As a professor the start of a new year can sometimes feel like a brand new year. But for me it always feels a bit betwixt and between – my heart feels the hope and possibility springing forth in a new semester while my brain is singing “whoa, we’re halfway there… whoa, we’re living on a prayer…”
The start of a new semester always brings up a feeling of reflection for me. I am thinking about previous semesters, wondering how our alums are doing out in the world, prepping courses and making changes to update the curriculum, etc. It’s also a good time to think about fitness for me.
I typically prep my schedule for the first few weeks in advance, as much as is possible. I block out time for workouts, mental health breaks, and time with supportive friends and loved ones. And then week one hits and I have to remember the old saying “(wo)man plans, God(ess) laughs.” Week one hits and it feels like we are off to the races.
In my new-ish role as department chair I spent a lot of that first week getting other folks (students, faculty, etc) settled into the semester. There are also an incredible amount of meetings coming back into those first weeks, especially if you’re somewhere that faculty are “off contract” (aka not paid to work) over the summer.
For me, the absolute best thing to do is to hold to my schedule and get some movement in to each day, whether it’s a walk around campus or a workout in my basement gym. It helps me feel grounded and keeps some of the “things still to do” doom-loop at a minimum.
You know where this is going, right?! I have done almost no intentional movement since school started 10 days ago. I showed up for a scheduled workout with my trainer and I virtually “met” a friend for a spin class over the weekend. After each of these sessions I felt good. Strong. Clear-headed. I told myself that I wanted more of this feeling and I needed to protect more time to get movement into my day. And then I promptly laid down to take a nap.
It is what it is, friends. Some days are hard. Some weeks (months and years too) are hard and we need to get through them however we can. I know that intentional movement will come back to me. When I look at bike mileage stats from previous years I often see a dip for Sept and a surge from October through the end of the year. I feel fine giving myself a little grace right now.
As we discuss here all the time, fitness has many elements. Sometimes we prioritize rest to get the best improvement in our overall health, and sometimes we prioritize movement. My anecdotal data tells me that it is hard to prioritize both at the same time, but it is a goal I keep trying to meet.
How is your September shaping up? Are you settling in to a new routine as fall approaches or is it same as always in your world?
Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.