Snow, more snow, and some insights: Christine weathers a huge storm

As I mentioned in our 100 Day Reclaim review post on Tuesday , I thought this post was going to be different. 

My part of the country had a HUGE snowstorm on January 17. As in, 93cm of snow, 140+km/hr winds. This cluster of cities and towns on the Avalon peninsula has been under various forms of a State of Emergency for the past week and, as Martha noted in her post yesterday, it’s been a challenge.

Two large snowbanks are in the  foreground and houses can be seen in the background.  There is a bright blue sky above.
In front of my house on January 18. A.K.A: Oh, there was a storm? Really?

Before the storm hit, I suggested to the other bloggers that I would write a post about my fitness efforts during and after the storm. I thought I would spend the stormy hours alternating between writing and exercise and get all kinds of things done and then, afterwards, I would rack up some serious strength training and cardio shovelling out my driveway.

The thing is, though, that you don’t really realize how much snow 93 cms is. You may understand it as a measurement but, until it is falling, you don’t really understand what it feels like.

The storm was so intense that it was disturbing on a visceral level. I got caught up in weather updates and social media posts, and I couldn’t shut out the sound of the wind. I felt that, even inside the house, I was being buffeted around, as if something terrible could happen at any second.  I couldn’t write, I couldn’t make myself exercise, I couldn’t seem to settle into any specific activity.

The only exercise I did during the storm was yoga (I’m one of the people Cate mentioned in her post about Yoga with Adriene’s Home practice). That practice was great but it wasn’t all that I had planned. 

I did go out after the storm and start to help to shovel the driveway but I sank in a drift that was up to my hip and managed to hurt my knee while getting myself back out. I had to take it easy for the rest of the day. 

Now, as I mentioned in the 100 Day Reclaim post that is linked above, I was kind to myself about the whole thing. After all, you can only do what you can do, and there is nothing to be gained by judging yourself harshly. 

So, I focused on the things that I could do. 

Once my husband and sons had some ground cleared outside, I went back out to help shovel (keeping my foot on a stable surface meant less pressure on my knee.) I shovelled for short spurts, alternating where my hands were on the shovel, until the driveway was clear. 

The author, a white woman  wearing a black and grey winter hat and a black jacket stands in front of a towering snowbank. A corner of a brown mansard roof can be seen in the background.
Here I am, smirking away in front of a snowbank. As one does.

I kept up with my yoga.

I did lots of stretching. 

I let my knee recover. 

By Wednesday, I was back to my full shovelling strength and I spend most of my day helping to shovel people out. In the morning, I joined a group of neighbours helping to excavate someone’s car. In the afternoon, I helped my brother-in-law (who has a snow clearing business) break up the snow in someone’s driveway so it would fit into the snowblower.* In the evening, I joined a local ‘snow brigade’ – a group of volunteers who were accepting requests for help – and we dug out someone’s basement apartment. 

On Wednesday, my Fitbit logged 17,433 steps, 11.3kms, and 275 ‘active’ minutes.  Most of those steps were with a shovelful of snow in hand. 

It was an incredibly hard day but it was also, somehow, really energizing. 

I get why people with ADHD could thrive in jobs with intense physical labour. This was challenging enough to keep me engaged, it had a good social component, and it gave me the opportunity to help people without having to overthink the details. 

I was tired at the end of the day (and even more so on Thursday) but it was very satisfying and it gave me some more insights into my plan to increase my fitness levels.

It turns out that I feel really great after exercising for a long time.**  

And, I apparently enjoy functional fitness – I find the repetitive nature of strength training really hard on my brain. It’s not that I don’t want to put in the effort, it’s that I find it so boooooring that I have trouble making myself start it in the first place. I like being strong and I want to work toward greater strength but I need to find ways to get there without having to fight my ADHD to do the work. I’m still figuring out what that might look like but the insight is still important to me.

The physical effort I have put in this week – in yoga and in snow removal- has made a difference in how I feel, both mentally and physically. I want to keep those gains so I will be following Nia Shanks advice to keep taking action toward my goals – the thinking part will develop as I go along.  

Please note: I recognize that there is a lot of privilege involved in being stuck in a State of Emergency and having the leisure to reflect on how it affects my fitness. This situation has uncovered a lot about food insecurity in the communities in my area and I have done what I could to support those who were working on the front lines to ensure that people had the supplies they needed in these dire circumstances. In this post, I focused on my fitness because this is a fitness blog, not because that was all I thought about. 

*Snowblowers can only chop up snow that is the same height as the blower itself. Snow that’s higher has to be chopped down to an appropriate height. Chopping snow is not quite as hard as shovelling it but it is still pretty hard work.

**Perhaps you have always known this about yourself but my ADHD likes to dissuade me from starting anything that is going to be ‘too long’ or ‘too hard’ so this realization is really important for me.


The Days Ahead: Christine H and short-term planning

Because time can be so slippery for me* I enjoy the idea of cut-and-dried time frames. I love weekly/monthly challenges and deadlines help me create the sort of urgency that helps me focus. 

And while I am not all caught up in the ‘new year, new me’ thing, I do enjoy the fact that the changing of  the year gives me a definite end/start point.  

My current fitness objective is to create consistent, sustainable exercise practice. I am working on that now and I will continue to work on it in 2020.

A 2020 calendar printed on white paper sits on a wooden table top. There is a dark pink weight and a taekwondo reference booklet resting on the calendar.
While I haven’t set my first set of priorities yet, I know that strength training and practicing my patterns will fall in there somewhere.

My ADHD works against me in this goal. My inclination is to seek instant, visible results. To seek variety. To try to accomplish everything as once. To take on HUGE fitness projects. To switch gears frequently. 

As I have noted in the 100 Day Reclaim posts, I am working on a number of ways to help me address those issues and I am trying to find the strengths in my ADHD programming – natural inclinations that will serve and support my fitness plans. 

Since short-term challenges seem to be one of those inclinations, I am working them into my plans for the next while.

I’m not trying to plan a year of fitness activities, I’m working on something for the first 47 days of the year. 

(I picked 47 because it’s my age and because it is an odd number that doesn’t add up to a specific number of weeks. That has a certain strange appeal to me.)

This way, I don’t have to try and see too far in advance. And I have a specific (and close) deadline. I can keep my time/activity experiments short and I can quickly change something that isn’t working.

I am still figuring out what I will focus on for the first session but I already feel better about selecting something because I know that I will a) only be prioritizing it for 47 days, not the whole year and b) I have a specific time when I will be starting the next thing, whatever that turns out to be. 

How do you plan your next set of fitness challenges?

Do you have a time frame or a skills-based structure?

I’d love to hear about it, especially if you have ADHD and you have overcome the challenges of choosing a structure for improving your fitness levels. 

*As I have mentioned before, ADHD gives me two time frames ‘now’ and ‘ not now’ and if I can’t cram something into ‘now’ then ‘not now’ could happen any time between the next hour and pretty much never. 
PS – I know these short work cycles are popular in a number of professions but I first heard about them from Basecamp’s Jason Fried on Jocelyn Glei’s Hurry Slowly podcast.

fitness · habits · health

Anchoring myself for December

I do December the same way most people who celebrate Christmas do – a rush of preparations combined with extra social events, with a hearty attempt to fit in all of the things that I meant to get done during the rest of the year. 

Image features two small blond children with white skin, the one on the left is wearing a green shirt and looking downward. The one on the right is wearing a yellow shirt and looking at the camera while they eat a sandwich made with white bread.  The text in the image is a Douglas Adams quote from the book 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' and it reads 'Time is an illusion, lunchtime, doubly so. '  The image comes from a site called brightdrops,com

Of course, I also get the bonus of having ADHD so, like Dirk Gently in the photo below, I laugh at the concept of time. I have to put a lot of mental effort into calculating how much time something will take. If I try to just ‘wing it’ with my estimations, I end up trying to cram 50 things into an hour or I give myself so much time to do a task that my brain refuses to get into gear because there is no urgency. 

A still shot of the character Dirk Gently from the BBC America series 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' - a young white man with reddish hair, wearing a yellow jacket, a blue tie and a white shirt - is in sharp focus against a blurred background of a park. The closed captioning below him reads 'time, I laugh at the concept.'
I’m pretty sure that Dirk Gently means this in a much more metaphysical way than I do…but it was a weird show, so perhaps not.

And, as a life coach, I end up observing my own behaviour so I can use it as an example when I am explaining things to clients.

So, over the past few years, I have been making incremental changes in my December plans. I have been trying not to get caught up in the rush and, instead, be conscious of what I am choosing to do each day and how those choices makes me feel. 

A snow covered porch rail is decorated with a string of large white plastic stars that are outlined with white lights.
Soft piles of snow and some star lights – that’s the feeling I’m trying to invoke for myself this December.

This year, I have the benefit of data from having made similar types of choices about September.

Previously, I used to just give myself a break in September and not try to add anything new beyond what had to be there (i.e. an arts festival and two kids starting school.) This year, however, I added a short yoga practice and a drawing exercise to my busy September days. 

Instead of feeling rushed and resenting the extra tasks, those two things became my personal anchor every day. Most days, I did them first thing. And I found that creating that little space of personal focus early in the day gave me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of peace. 

A sense of accomplishment and a sense of peace is exactly what I am looking for in December, too. 

So, I’m adopting a similar practice for the month ahead. 

Since I know that one good way to add a new habit is to ‘anchor’ it to something you already routinely do, I am going to add a short ‘warm-up’ to my day right after my yoga practice.

This YouTube warm-up from Fitness Blender is pretty easy on my brain since it is just one person featured against a white background and they give a preview of the next movement before they begin.

And, to stick with the formula from September, I’m going to write or draw on an index card every day, too.

An index card sits on a dark brown wooden surface. The card has a light blue background and features the gold outline of a large star that contains multiple smaller gold stars. The star outline is open on the point on the right hand side and some of the smaller stars are escaping outwards.
A drawing I did two summers ago as part of the Index Card A Day challenge hosted by Tammy Garcia at Daisy Yellow. As you can tell, I am a fan of stars.

I’ll check in a couple of times in December to let you know how things are going.

PS – I didn’t realize that my post was going to have two themes today but when I want to talk about how time is a slippery concept, Douglas Adams just springs to mind and when I want to talk about a feeling of accomplishment then I am all about stars. 🙂


Exercise Procrastination: Does it happen to you, too?

Yesterday, for the second time in a week, I was part of a conversation about exercise procrastination. 

Exercise procrastination is when you put off starting today’s exercise session.

So, this isn’t about people who don’t want to exercise, nor is it about people who are putting off starting an exercise program. This is about people who have an exercise habit but have trouble getting started on a given day.

I know that lots of people have no issue at all with fitting exercise into their schedule. For them, it’s automatic. There’s no need to convince themselves to get started, no ‘talking themselves into it’ and, from what I can tell from chatting with them, this whole post would make no sense to them at all.

But for everyone of those ‘just schedule a time and do it’ people, there are people like me who spend a lot of time convincing themselves to start moving.

I know that, for me, there are ADHD factors at play here. 

I have trouble with switching tasks and I struggle with task initiation. Both of those things make stopping what I am doing and then starting an exercise session a tricky proposition.

And, since it requires sustained concentration and effort, my brain treats a 30 minute exercise session like it is a HUGE task instead of a small part of my day.*

But I also know that, once I get moving, I really enjoy exercising.  It’s just that getting started is hard.

So, to lower the obstacles between me and exercise, I have two practices in place.

  1. I set a reminder for 10 minutes before I want to get started so I have some warning that I will have to switch tasks.
  2. I tell myself that I only HAVE to exercise for 10 minutes.

(Yes, apparently the number 10 is a big factor in my exercise plans.)

An image of an iPhone reminders   App screen.  Grey background with black text that lists reminders such as posting a Fit is a Feminist Issue post, working on a writing advice blog post, and a 10 minute exercise warning.
This is what my reminders end up looking like!

Most of the time, the 10 minute reminder is enough notice for my brain to get used to the idea of switching from one task to another, so that change doesn’t feel abrupt. And, ages ago, I figured out that once I am exercising for 10 minutes, I usually start to enjoy myself. 

Obviously, sometimes I start having fun right away but  sometimes it doesn’t seem fun at any point. I don’t necessarily stop when exercising isn’t fun but having the 10 minute escape hatch is still helpful. Knowing that I *can* stop in just 10 minutes makes it easier to get started. 

I still procrastinate when it comes to exercise but since I put those two practices in place, I do it far less.

How about you? 

Do you procrastinate about exercise?

How do you get past the procrastination and get moving?

*I’m not even going to get into the whole rigmarole that my brain puts me through with picking the ‘right’ time to exercise and the ‘right’ exercise to do, those things are outside the scope of this procrastination thing.


Almost Over (But Not Quite)

Usually, by the time I’m coming to the end of one of my short challenges, I’m tired and kind of sick of posting about it.

This is not the case with my ‘September is for Yoga‘ challenge! 

Instead I’m finding myself with feeling that I’m just getting started.  I feel like I’m just beginning to explore around the edges of what yoga can bring to my life.

I like the way my body feels. I like how I’m moving. I like the fact that yoga feels available to me as a stress relief. 

And I enjoy checking in every day with the group, sharing a yoga monster drawing, and giving our gold stars.

A white index card   covered in  twenty  seven-shaped monsters  in multiple colours. The words  Day 27  are written above the monsters.
My monsters for Day 27. No, there aren’t 27 monsters, there are 20 seven-shaped monsters.

Yes, I do think I’m funny.

I think I have finally found a level of accountability magic (more to come about that in a later post.) 

Basically, everything about this process feels good – the yoga, the group, and the results.

I’ll post about yoga one more time this month but don’t think that that will be the last time I have something to say about it.

Our group has decided that October is for yoga, too. 😉


Yoga on my Mind

I’m a creative life coach so I spend a lot of time encouraging people to write and create on a regular basis so when they NEED to write or create, their skills are right there waiting for them.

And I spend a lot of time reminding people that they can ‘cross-pollinate’ – use skills from one area of their life to serve them in another. My most used example is about how learning Taekwondo made me a better writer.

Yet, somehow, it has escaped me until now that having a regular yoga practice would yoga more available to me when I needed it. And, it never occurred to me to bring my ‘keep up a writing habit’ approach over into exercise. 

I’m not referring to the fact that the more often I do yoga, the “better” I get.

A  slightly blurred image of a white woman with brown hair and a dog with light hair.  The woman is  in the upper right corner and her hair is mostly covering her face,  the dog is  in the lower centre, at the end of a green yoga mat.  There is a beige couch in the background.
Khalee is my constant support, weighing down the end of my mat so it doesn’t go flying off. 😉

I mean that the more often I do yoga, the more likely I am to be able to call on it when I need it. AND the more likely I am to *think* of doing it. 

Not just because it has become a habit, but because I have it in my mental toolkit. It now occurs to me to try yoga when I feel a certain way, and it occurs to me to pay more attention to how I am breathing. 

So, even after only 17 days, I feel especially good about where yoga has taken me. Not just because my body feels good but because my brain likes this practice.

A drawing of a red fluffy monster with a beak, wearing a sports jersey that says ‘Yoga 17’
Today’s celebratory monster. I can only assume that Yoga Team jerseys would have polka dots.

Even on my busiest day so far this month, the first time that I couldn’t fit yoga in the first little while after I woke up, my brain kept bumping it up to the top of my list.

And, I swear, this practice is helping my September slow down a bit. 

The regulars in my Facebook yoga group have been doing marvellously all throughout the month, and I am really happy with the habit I am building. 

How has your yoga been going?

fitness · yoga

September is for Yoga: Day 6 Check-in

I am so glad I decided to add yoga to my September. My days have actually felt LESS busy because I am starting off by doing something kind for myself. 

I suspect that feeling stems from two things:

I like having a specific thing to do first thing in the morning, it gives my day immediate structure.

I have been maintaining that structure in two ways:

My mat has been a fixture in my living room since September 1 (a fact that Khalee fully approves of) so I have a visual reminder. 

And, I ended up setting up a Facebook check-in group and we decided that I would put up a post every day to remind people to check-in. 

My mat helps me to remember my plan and the need to do the check-in post helps me to stick to the plan. It’s the perfect combination!

I have, of course, selected a little weirdness for my check-in posts, an index card drawing of a monster with the day number next to them. So, I have the added bonus of doing something a little creative first thing, too. 

But because it is a side-effect of the group post, it’s not ‘make art first thing,’ it’s ‘make a quick drawing for the post’ and it feels like a smaller task.

The words/numbers Day 6 are handwritten in large print on the left side of a white index card. On the right there is a tall, green, cylindrical one-eyed monster with a yellow smile and two green feet.
You will notice, of course, that this particular monster has 6 spikes on their head in honour of Day 6.

I can focus my yoga to address something I need in that moment – relaxed shoulders, some relaxation, some ease in my hips.

One day, I knew I had a lot of driving ahead of me so I did some hip work to prepare myself for the day ahead.

That just feels really great – addressing a concern right away. And I don’t have to carry that issue all through the day until I can get around to it. 

Instead, I get to have a feeling of physical ease throughout the day. And there is no arguing with the benefit of that!

A brown-haired woman in a black t-shirt and jeans leans forward in child's pose (chest on knees, face downward, arms outstretched) on a green mat on a dark brown floor. A light brown and white dog rests nearby.
I’m trying not to be precious about my practice this month so I am embracing imperfection. So here I am doing child’s pose imperfectly, wearing jeans, with my mat on a floor that needs sweeping, next to a blanket that needs folding, and a bag of whatsits that needs putting away. The only two perfect things in this photo are Khalee’s guarding abilities and my NL Feminists Rock t-shirt.

Shout-out to the September is for Yoga Group

As I mentioned above, I created a Facebook group to keep myself and Team Yoga on track for this month and we’re having a great time. 

Lots of people have mentioned how the accountability is helping them remember to make a little time for themselves in the day. AND, we are all finding that even the tiniest bit of yoga is helping us to feel better already. 

I know that I am feeling more relaxed over all and my hips feel mobile instead of tense. 

That’s pretty much as close to an instant result as anyone could hope for.