In addition to ghosts and ghouls at Halloween, there’s an awful lot of anxiety about candy, about having candy in our houses, about eating candy, and mostly about gaining weight. Scary.
For me, given the number of fitness communities I run in, it means my social media newsfeed is full of a lot of memes about trading off candy for workouts. How long do you have to run to burn off that mini-Snickers and so on?
And here’s the burpee version. Because of course there’s a burpee version.
I’m here to ask you not to do it. I mean, eat the candy, don’t eat the candy, I don’t care. But don’t think of it as a candy exercise trade-off.
You see we’re not against big, ridiculous amounts of burpees. We’ve done various burpee challenges over the years. Right now, a small subset of the bloggers is doing a squat challenge and I think they (or maybe it’s just Nicole left standing, I mean squatting) are up to 165 squats a day. Not me. I tapped out when I started to worry about hurting my knees and then I got the flu so that ended that.
Sometimes you invest $15 in a thing, and it wears out or gets torn up, or you lose it, or you just lose interest in it. Not so with the banana Halloween costume I bought in 2014. It has never let me down. It’s suitable for any occasion, but especially for silly Halloween rides.
This Halloween weekend I’m still recovering from what Sam called “the dreaded lurgy” and what I refer to as the “monster truck cold virus” (it runs over you, then throws it into reverse and backs up to finish the job). But, you never know– the banana may yet ride again this week… 🙂
In the meantime, please take a look at my post from way back when in 2016 about the most fun Halloween costume race ever– the Orchardcross cyclocross costume race.
Hey readers– what are you dressing up as this holiday? Let me know in the comments.
I know it’s not technically Halloween until next week, but it is very definitely Halloween weekend. Driving through campus tonight (Thursday, October 26th) there were already students in costume. So I definitely don’t think I’m too early.
To get into the spirit of things, here’s Christine’s round up post of Halloween workouts.
One would think, 3.5 years after the COVID pandemic hit it big on planet Earth, we would have figured out how to live in the world while a) being sick; and b) recovering from being sick. But we haven’t. We really haven’t.
About a week after Sam came down with “the dreaded lurgy” I got it, too. Nothing novel, just an awful conglomeration of coughing, congestion, fever, queasiness, lower GI symptoms, body ache, wheezing. I was in bed, unable to do anything for several days. This gets me to lesson one I learned this week:
Just cancel work. All the work. Don’t try to Zoom or email your way through it. Cancel. Call in/out sick. Because you are sick.
I learned this the hard way. Monday I tried teaching a 2.5 hour in-person freshman class over Zoom. This is not easy under optimal conditions, and my conditions were far from optimal. I played a TED talk, did some small group discussion, coughed a lot, and called it a day an hour and a half in.
Monday night, still having not learned, I planned to teach logic over Zoom Tuesday afternoon and emailed my class. By 4:30 Tuesday morning, my tune had changed– a mash-up of Chopin’s Funeral March and Johnny Paycheck’s Take this job and shove it. So I called in/out and canceled class.
By the way, I looked up calling in vs calling out sick. Here’s the latest:
Incorporating all the information gleaned from not following lesson one takes us to lesson two:
Being sick and getting better are going to take longer than you expect, even if you already know that and have factored in extra time.
This lesson is a variation on what’s called Hofstadter’s Law, which says a project always takes longer to complete than expected, even when the law is taken into account. No matter what we do, the complexities of real-life living throw spanners into the works of our finely tuned plans. So we (meaning me, this week) would do well to remember that sickness and recovery timetables are not really under our control.
Wednesday brought a bit of an upswing and the glimmer of recovery. I did some work at home and it went well. By Thursday, I really expected that I woulda/shoulda be well enough to get in my car, drive to school and teach my afternoon classes. I mean, I felt sort-of-less-bad on Wednesday. Doesn’t that dictate that I be sort-of-okay by Thursday? Uh, lesson three has news for me:
Sickness and recovery are not linear. They’re going to go up and down and all around.
If you google “recovery is not linear” you’ll get a huge number of hits and graphics, all trying to convey how unpredictable all of our patterns of change and adjustment are, in mental health and physical health and all their permutations. It’s crucial to our well-being that we recognize that the short and the long processes, the less taxing and the life-changing, all of them proceed in ways that aren’t about steady improvement, day after day. Nope. Many of you have seen graphs like the one below, but it bears demonstrating again.
Maybe this is particular to me, but just in case it’s meaningful for you, here’s lesson four:
Always have extra tissues and cough drops on hand. Don’t run out. Ever.
Lesson five isn’t really something I’ve learned this week, but rather something I keep relearning through my meditation practice. But, it applies here (as everything in meditation applies to everything else in the world):
Whatever you’re going through is going to change. It won’t be the same tomorrow, the next day, and so on.
This is neither good nor bad; it’s just the way things are. It’s infuriating sometimes– this unpredictability. I mean, I oughta be able to know what’s coming and when. Well:
Why, you may wonder, did I take all the trouble to write up these no-news lessons about getting better from being sick while I’m sick and getting better? Because however many times I remember them, I seem to forget them again. So, in case you’re feeling a little tickle in your throat, I can save you some valuable time and extra emails. Oh, and don’t forget to buy kleenex.
How’s everybody feeling out there? Lemme know. I’m thinking about you.
So I told you I was sick and got better, right? Oh yeah. Here.
But I didn’t tell you about the drama.
Here’s the scoop:
After flinging myself in bed Monday and parking myself there until Thursday (I was so sick I couldn’t even watch anything!) I started to panic I’d never be able to move again. That’s when I remembered my new knees. Uh oh. No physio for days. All I’d done was sleep. And I was right to worry. Everything was super stiff. I couldn’t extend or bend my legs. So much for all that hard work. Just gone. PANIC #1.
So I hopped up and started forcing my knees to move. Squats, lunges, and stairs, oh my. A lot of bending. Even some kneeling.
And then I went back to bed because I was still really sick. And when I woke up it felt like I had smashed my kneecaps with a hammer. I couldn’t walk. So much pain. I started to imagine I’d broken my new knees and I’d have to have surgery again. It’s not unheard of. A friend fell on the ice on her new knee and had to have a second round of knee surgery. I wondered if I’d have to wait for this now-needed (in my head) second surgery. I wondered when the surgery would be. Should I move any of my research travel? PANIC #2.
Finally, I took a deep breath. I took a few painkillers. I gently stretched my knees through their usual range of motion. I went to bed. They were still sore the next day, but less sore. Day two was more deep breaths and more painkillers, more gentle stretching. It took a few days but soon, no more pain and no more broken knees. Phew!
I went to physio last night and everything is fine. They’re just knees. They’re working. I didn’t break them. So unlike me. So much unnecessary drama. But in the end I’m fine and my knees are too.
Last year, I started thinking about returning to being a lifeguard. I have decided I don’t really want to be a lifeguard as much as I want to be a swim instructor, ideally teaching adults from the immigrant community. If they can swim, they will be more likely to get their kids to swim, and swimming is literally a lifesaving activity.
Being a swim instructor in Ottawa requires six courses. I am just over half way through the course that will get me more than half way through the certification.
I’m currently doing an intensive Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross combined course. It’s seven weeks long for five hours a week, and last Friday marked week four. I already have my standard first aid and CPR “C”/AED. Assuming I pass, my next steps are a short course in airway management, my lifeguard course, and finally the instructor qualification.
Browsing through the course catalogue, I might be able to find a lifeguard course that caters to people over 30. That would be nice. But I need to weigh it against the convenience of a closer course that I could combine with airway management. Decisions, decisions.
I also need to get my swimming speed up just a bit. I’m on the bubble for completing the lifeguard anaerobic test (50 metres in 60 seconds) and the endurance (400 metres in 10 minutes). Maybe the lifeguard course for older people will be a touch more forgiving…
I’ve thought about all of these things before but I decided to articulate them more clearly after watching this video from Jessica McCabe’s YouTube channel How to ADHD:
My Thoughts On Relaxing
So, here’s the thing, I’m not very good at doing nothing.
It’s not that I can’t relax, it’s not that I need to be busy, it’s not that I need to work all the time, and it’s definitely not that I can’t take downtime.
It’s that trying to do nothing, having no plans at all, makes my ADHD brain twitchy.
If I’m doing nothing in particular, my brain goes into high gear trying to figure out what I *should* be doing right now.
It will keep trying to figure out the ‘best’ thing to do right now. The thing that will make me the most relaxed or that will set me up to have a better time later or that will make tomorrow easier or that will let me ‘catch up.’
It will keep throwing up ideas and images of a ‘better’ or ‘more effective’ way to spend my time.
And that’s frustrating, to say the least.
So, obviously, ‘doing nothing’ is not particularly relaxing for me.
If I want to really feel relaxed, I have to do a little bit of preplanning (i.e. make some decisions in advance) so my brain will give me a break.
Here are two approaches that help me do that.
I plan a day of things I enjoy doing and make a loose schedule of when I am going to do them.
This looks like “I’m going to read and drink tea until 10, then I’ll draw for half an hour or so, then I’ll go for a walk.”
The key here is having the time limits, otherwise, I might read and drink tea all day.
That would be fine, really…except for the fact that I might have other things I want to do but be unable to switch tasks and do them.
Yes, one of the pitfalls of ADHD is not being able to start things I actually want to do. My brain sometimes perceives the task initiation/future concentration costs as too high and just won’t switch tasks.
Or I might have a grumpy voice in my head reminding me of the other things I could be doing – a situation which ruins the fun of reading but also leaves me unable to switch tasks.
Or, I might happily read all day and then regret it later when I remember all the other things I meant to do that day. So, time limits make all the difference.
I will usually take a look at my plans part way through the day and make sure that I still want to do those things and, if not, I make a new plan.
And I always give myself the option of choosing something unexpected but having the loose schedule helps me make a conscious choice instead of just letting myself be distracted. “Ok, so I planned to keep drawing all morning but I’d really like some cookies. I’m going to draw for 15 minutes, make cookies, and then draw some more while they bake.”
I make a list of stuff I want to do and I let my brain off its metaphorical leash (to borrow Jessica McCabe’s term)
My favourite kind of day is one in which I can do the things on my list in the way I want to do them and in the order I want to do them.
What does that mean?
Well, instead of trying to figure out the most logical or effective way to do my stuff, I just wander from task to task in whatever order appeals to my brain.
On those days, I don’t worry about finishing things or doing things in a way that will make sense to anyone else, I just make a list and then putter my way through it.
If for example, I was letting my brain off-leash on a Saturday but I had to get some stuff done around the house, it might look like this – put in a load of laundry, read for five minutes, clean off the kitchen counter, do some yoga, use voice dictation to write part of a blog post while I lie on my mat, clean the bathroom vanity, hang some of the clothes on the line, read in my hammock, draw while standing at the kitchen table and stretching, chop some veggies for supper, finish hanging the clothes on the line, make a list of ideas for events way in the future, vacuum the hall, wash my hair…you get the idea.
With my brain off-leash, I don’t fight my ADHD tendencies, I just roll with them. I don’t feel any pressure, I don’t worry about the results, I just trust that the important stuff will get done and that I will have some relaxing fun in the process.*
If I was trying to work sensibly or logically or if I was trying to do things the way I suspect other people think they ‘should’ be done, I would probably group like tasks, or finish one task before starting another, or do work and then do fun stuff.
But, for me, making all those decisions (determining the priorities) takes a lot of focus, concentration, and energy. And if I use up all my energy making decisions and being sensible, I will have far less energy for the things I need or want to do.
Yes, I swear this is all relaxing for me
If you can easily switch into relaxation mode or if you have no trouble focusing on your hobbies or activities, my approach to things might not make any sense to you. Perhaps, in your case, having a list or a schedule is the very opposite of relaxing.
For me, though, having that list/schedule/plan IS relaxing. It means that I’m giving my brain what it needs to slow down. It means I can trust that I will create a satisfying day for myself. It means that my brain will work with me instead of forcing me to monitor my own thinking all day.
I’m not approaching relaxation with a productivity mindset.
This isn’t about accomplishing more, it’s about feeling good about my day.
Sometimes that looks like ‘I’ll read until I get bored and then I’ll do a puzzle’, sometimes it looks like letting my brain off its leash to do a mix of tasks, and sometimes it looks like ‘I’ll do yoga at 9:30, work on my zine for 15 minutes, and then play a game.’
All of these things help me do the things I want to do, the things I find fun and/or satisfying, without me having to pour a lot of energy into managing my brain.
All of these things help me to reduce stress and find ease.
That sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?
*Yes, it would be cool if I could just let myself work like this all the time but it’s not practical. If I don’t finish cleaning the bathroom or if I don’t get back to my book while my brain is off-leash, it’s no big deal. If I didn’t meet my deadline on a writing project because I was hanging clothes on the line and then decided to gather fall leaves for a project and then walked to the store for waxed paper so I could press the leaves…and so on, it would create a lot of stress and scrambling.
So far this year my dedication to physio and regular daily exercise as part of my return to fitness has surpassed even my own expectations. Usually I plan more and don’t do it all (with zero guilt). But this year I’ve done a lot. In the 223 for 2023 group I was at 326 episodes of intentional physical movement last week. I met the 223 goal sometime this summer. There’s a story behind that–knee surgery, knee physio, and serious commitment to rehab and rebuilding fitness–but it all came to a grinding halt last week with the dreaded lurgy. (Shoutout to my father who taught me that wonderful expression, a favourite of his.)
So yes readers, I got sick! Weirdly it’s been years since I’ve been sick. Two knee replacement surgeries and one round of mild COVID-19 in the early omicron days have been it for a few years. I don’t like this getting sick thing. I was fevered, pukey, headachey, sore throaty and cough flavoured sick. The doctor asked which symptoms I had. I said all of them. She laughed. I haven’t tested positive for covid and I’ve been testing each day for 6 days as I write this on the weekend. I know, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t covid. I just know it’s some kind of not-very-nice virus. I went quickly from ‘maybe I should work from home today’ early in the week to “huh, I guess I won’t be working from anywhere.” I hit the bed and stayed there for days.
I wasn’t well enough to even watch fluffy television. I just slept. I didn’t eat–aside from the odd slice of toast and cup of tea–and I drank water if someone reminded me.
When I finally left the house to go to the doctor Friday it felt like a major athletic achievement. I was stiff and sore for not moving for days–especially my knees. I was light headed and woozy walking around.
And it wasn’t even time off work for three of the days. Instead, it was the worst option–CANCELLED VACATION.
Sarah, Cheddar, and I were supposed to be staying in a dog friendly OTENTik in Point Pelee National Park.
After that I missed attending the Ontario Universities Fair with my team from the College of Arts at Guelph on Saturday. I gave away Saturday night tickets to see Wild Woman at Soul Pepper. Hope it was good Susan!
Finally, I got out for a short dog walk. It was just 1.5 km but you bet I counted it as a workout. I might even have napped after!
My husband met me when I was in my athletic prime. In response to a heartbreak, I turned to exercise as an escape. When my blood was pumping, the tears weren’t falling. I would run up and down the stairs at my university, do push-ups and sit-ups in my dorm, and spend my thin university budget on a gym membership. I was riding the adrenaline.
Naturally, when my husband saw me at our university’s Winter Retreat skating laps around the lake, smashing points in water polo, and sinking half-court shots in the gym at three in the morning, he thought he had found the athletic partner jackpot.
A skate ring I made one winter.
Pictured is of the lower half of a person wearing ice skates, posing beside a carved spiral in the ice.
Unfortunately, that was, and may forever be, the best shape I was ever in. Was my husband surprised when he started dating me and discovered I had very little athletic drive? Perhaps, but thankfully, I have many more endearing qualities.
Now, 13 years later, both of us have a drive to use exercise to promote our health, and we desire relational connection. We’ve asked each other, “Well, how about we try working out together?” Seems like a cute idea, does it not?
However, my husband’s athleticism and my lack thereof make this idea of working out together a difficult one to put into practice. My husband is an avid hiker and soccer player who walks to work and bikes to soccer games. He feeds off of intensity. I am a typist who swims casually. I feed off of gentle steadiness. Our differences have me questioning, what if my husband gets frustrated at my slower pace? What if I get flustered over his intensity? Is it even possible to work out peacefully with each other? Voicing these questions aloud to my husband has produced a similar uncertainty in him.
My husband and I engaging in each other’s hobbies during our engagement photoshoot.
Pictured are two adults standing, looking teasingly at each other. A woman is resting her foot on a soccer ball, while a man is playing a guitar.
But, being a proud extrovert, I have refused to abandon the cause. In looking for ways for my husband and I to engage in fitness together, I have chosen to look to the past to find the successes in our 13 years together. Inspired by my husband and the date ideas he has suggested for us in the past, I have compiled a short list.
Here are 3 ways that a less athletic partner can comfortably exercise with their athletic partner:
Go on a bike ride.
It was on a bike ride 13 years ago that my husband and I discovered that our different fitness modes can make doing physically demanding activities together a frustrating and isolating experience.
When my husband suggested that the two of us should go for a bike ride together, I had my reservations. I wanted to ensure that the “together” part of his suggestion would be followed. My husband assured me that it would be, and he followed through. Our biking destination was a beautiful pier overlooking a lake. My husband led the way. He set the pace but kept me close in his rearview.
By the time we got to the pier, I was exhausted. Naturally, my husband was unphased. We enjoyed the view and some water for a short moment, and then it was time to head back. My husband suggested that I lead the way back so that I could set the pace.
This leader-switch plan worked out splendidly. I had the stamina and energy to keep up with my husband at the beginning of the ride, and we could still ride together on the way back. I am certain I would have fallen far behind if he had led.
So that’s the date suggestion: have the more athletic partner lead for the first half and then have the less athletic partner lead on the way back. This way, it becomes a partnered adventure. Find a neat place to be your halfway point to add some extra romanticism to the date.
2. Go bowling.
It is incredible how sore you can be after bowling. The lunging, the twisting, the slight ode to shotput in throwing the bowling ball—bowling has the potential to be a significant workout. We have taken advantage of bowling because it is one of the more affordable options for date ideas and because it’s a fun idea for double dates. In fact, if you invite others to join your bowling game, there is more time to visit with each other between turns.
Bowling can be as tame or as intense as the bowler prefers. You can challenge yourself or each other to unique bowls, such as lunging to the lane, walking on your toes for the duration of your bowl, or even doing stretch exercises while waiting for your next turn. Use this exercise date idea to bring fun and amusement into your relational fitness journey.
3. Go for a long walk and talk.
This is one for the memories. When my husband and I first met, we used to walk for hours around the industrial park near our university. It was not a glamorous scene, but the silence and barrenness of the area gave us ample freedom to speak openly and widely. Even if you don’t find the quietest place to walk, challenge yourself and your partner to go for a long walk and talk. Try it out in your neighbourhood or an area of your municipality you haven’t explored before.
If you run out of topics, look around. There may be a particular house, tree, person, or sound that can ignite an intricate conversation. The best thing about this activity is that it helps you connect with your partner on an intimate level, and talking together will allow you both to hold pace with one another. It’s a win-win!
Working out together may seem daunting, but there are ways that you can engage in a fitness journey with your partner, even if you are unequally yoked in the athletic department. I look forward to saying “Yes” to more of my husband’s exercise date invitations and to finding some date ideas for myself too. Happy dating!
Would these ideas work for you and your partner? Do you have other ideas on how couples can exercise together? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Stephanie Morris is a transcriptionist and writer based in Alberta, Canada. She is a wife, a mom of two, and a newcomer to the career-writing world. As a fancier of history and literature, she aspires to blend the two in fiction and nonfiction pieces. To follow Stephanie’s writing adventures, find her at @words.and.smores on Instagram.