Reaching new heights: Husband takes the high road following lifestyle change

Voices of the Clarion

Posted: Sunday, April 08, 2007

It’s been more than a year since my husband, Mark, started his new lifestyle. You see men don’t call it a diet, because that’s what women do -- over and over and over. For Mark, he simply changed his lifestyle.

Three months into his change, he had lost nearly 50 pounds.

On me that would hardly be noticeable, but for Mark, well, let’s just say it was like having a new husband.

Mark and I have been competing in dog agility for years, and when we hit the summer circuit, people he’s known for a long time were walking right past him. One woman even inquired, “Do I know you?” after he said hello to her.

He was enjoying his newfound status and after all this time, he’s been extremely consistent with his new lifestyle. In fact, last spring he revealed a longtime desire to be fit enough to climb Denali.


After 10 years of marriage, I was surprised to hear this -- for the first time. I was a little taken aback at first, and my first reaction was a defiant “No!” But Mark is no slouch when it comes to the outdoors. He’s been hiking all his life, and at 6-foot-5 inches, he certainly has the legs for it.

I, on the other hand, am what I refer to as a Weeble. Do you remember those little plastic dolls with the rounded bottoms so they would swing to and fro, but they’d never tip over? That’s a Weeble. Except sometimes I fall over.

I think it’s a pretty fair summation to state that Mark and I have distinctly different interests. With the exception of our dogs, food and a knack for liking to tear our house apart and redesign it, Mark and I have little in common.

His hobbies include everything from hunting, hiking, snowmachining, welding, fabricating and working on cars to reading, biking, exercising and, apparently, climbing very tall mountains.

Me, outside of the dogs, which take up a considerable amount of my spare time, I sit in front of a computer all day at work and then go home to relax in front of my computer at home.

But Mark does sometimes cross over into my world, especially now that he’s looking for climbing equipment. He has found eBay to be a mighty handy tool.

It also came in handy for me.

During the holiday season, Mark was obsessed with getting a sleeping bag for his climb. This wasn’t just any bag, it was the “I can’t live without it because it’s extra long” bag. Since I am pretty clueless in this new world of his, I did what any good wife would do and called his climbing buddy to put together a Christmas list.

Lo and behold, the bag was on eBay, except there was one problem: He had already discovered it. Again, I put my noggin to work and came up with a scathingly brilliant plan.

Since he had a friend working the Internet connection for him, I intervened and had him bid against himself on my behalf. The plan worked quite well, although Mark was definitely bummed that he didn’t get the bag. To add to my benefit, I told Mark he should wait until after the holidays before he tried to buy anything else. He reluctantly agreed.

Imagine his surprise when he opened his present.

“How? What? How in the world?”

“I bid against you,” I said.

It was one of those memorable times when he really got what he wanted.

Now with just a month and a half left before he makes his ascent, I find myself worried about a lot more than sleeping bags.

“Don’t you go up there and get frostbite!” I nag.

“Oh, and you better be careful! And you need more practice before you go. Are you listening to me?”

Poor Mark. I’m worrying so much I’m turning his dream into a nightmare.

I know he’s careful. It’s what I tell him every day he goes off to work as a firefighter.

“Be careful!” I say.

“I’m always careful,” he responds.

Still, the thought of him on top of the tallest mountain in North America has my stomach gurgling. Maybe that’s just my fear of heights coming through.

I am a little jealous, though, I must admit. I’m proud to see Mark working so hard to achieve his goal. He’s even starting to rub off on me. Now instead of coming home every night and plopping in front of the computer, I stop and workout whenever I can. He’s right, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change, and he is an inspiration.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the managing editor of the Clarion. She can be reached at

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