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Couple hikes their way to health

Marty and Donna Ruszaj have found an excellent way to maintain their weight as the weather improves. They hike.

The East Amherst couple, both chemists in their mid-50s, have been trekking through western and central New York during the last four years after reading a Gerry Rising story in The Buffalo News four years ago about the Foothills Trail Club. They reached out to the group as a result and, during the last two years, have become even more actively involved in the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.

Marty Ruszaj (pronounce Rue-Shy) is acting chairman of the conference’s 2015 Cross County Hiking Series, which starts April 18, will take place once a month, and lead participants on walks of 9 to 12 miles through rural terrain in Allegany, Wyoming and Livingston counties. The series costs $40 and includes transportation to and from trail heads and parking areas. Sign up online by April 5 at

“They divide the group into hiking speed – people who walk at about the same pace you do – so the first time out, you find the people that you’re most comfortable with and walk with them throughout,” Donna Ruszaj said.

Q. You describe yourself as moderate eaters.

Donna: Marty and I eat differently. I eat a lot of small meals. We both try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I’m not a big meat eater; Marty still likes his meats. I prepare chicken and fish for him. We don’t really have anything magic. We try to eat healthy, drink a lot of water, try to stay away from snacks but don’t eliminate them.

Q. When you’re hiking, what do you tend to bring along with you?

Donna: We’ll bring trail mix, usually some apples, a lot of water. Nothing too heavy. We don’t want to carry it, plus you don’t want to eat too much while you’re exercising. After we’re done, as our treat we’ll go someplace to eat.

Q: Where do you like to go?

Marty: Sometimes we’ll just go to a restaurant and have a light lunch of some sort. We’ll try to go somewhere that’s local. In Springville, we like to go to Papa Jake’s. Ellicottville has got a couple nice places.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Read more details about the hiking series and regional hiking at