fitness

Christine and the Giant Water Bottle

I thought I was drinking plenty of water but it turns out that I most definitely was not.

On a day-to-day basis, I mostly drink water and tea with the occasional glass of juice for variety’s sake.

GIF description: A large husky is lying on some grass with its snout submerged in its water dish and it is blowing bubbles from its nostrils. The water dish is resting on concrete.​
This husky has opted to blow bubbles instead of drinking their water but perhaps they absorbed a few drops all the same. GIF description: A large husky is lying on some grass with its snout submerged in its water dish and its paws on either side of the dish. The dog is blowing bubbles from its nostrils. The water dish is resting on concrete.

And I really thought I was having the recommended 8 glasses a day…until I actually thought it through.

If I have a glass of water with each meal and then one or two at other times during the day, I was getting a maximum of 5 glasses a day.

And yes, I know that the 8 glasses is a fairly arbitrary recommendation and I didn’t fall for the idea that ‘By the time you feel thirsty, you are already terribly dehydrated!’ that some ‘experts’ were touting a few years back. If that was the way the human body worked, we would never have survived this long.

But, still, I know that 8 glasses is a good guideline.

And I know that drinking more water can be beneficial for people who are monitoring their blood pressure.

And I just had this sense that the way I felt in the morning had something to do with not getting enough fluid overall.

And I know that my ADHD brain might mislead me about how much water I drink and when I drink it.

So, I decided to do an experiment.*

a lab coat, safety glasses, and a  blue cap covering their hair uses an eye dropper to add liquid to a series of large test tubes filled with blue liquid. Beakers and other science-related containers filled with containing the same liquid sit on their work surface. A microscope sits nearby.
This scientist is doing a far more elaborate experiment than I am. Image description: A scientist wearing a lab coat, safety glasses, and a blue cap covering their hair uses an eye dropper to add liquid to a series of large test tubes filled with blue liquid. Beakers and other science-related containers filled with containing the same liquid sit on their work surface.

I know that part of my issue with remembering to drink more water is that I have to interrupt whatever I am doing in order to refill my glass or water bottle. Any interruption in my work day has the potential to lead me down a rabbit hole of other tasks so I try to avoid extra stops in my work flow. (Hyperfocus plays a role here, too, but it is mostly a conscious decision not to avoid possible distractions.)

So, I decided to buy a large water bottle that I could fill up in the morning and then sip all day until it was gone. By getting a large bottle, I would avoid having to stop what I was doing in order to get more water and I wouldn’t have to track how many times I had refilled my glass/bottle.

I thought about buying one of those bottles with the time recommendations down the side but I couldn’t get one locally and I wondered if the time markings would get on my nerves. After all, it doesn’t matter if I drink a specific amount by 11am and I know myself well enough know that I might resist drinking it all, just because I don’t like being bossed around, especially by inanimate objects.

As you can see, the bottle ended up buying is enormous.

It’s 2.2 litres and I cannot sip from it, I have to swig which lends a fun pirate-y feeling throughout my day, me mateys.

GIF description: A light brown guinea pig in a pirate costume turns its head and the word ‘Arrrrgh!’ appears in white beneath it. The background features some ship elements and a red light that flashes on before the caption appears.​
I am not as much of a guinea pig as this one because I am running my own pirate experiment instead of being subject to someone else’s science. This guinea pig is adorable though. GIF description: A light brown guinea pig in a pirate costume turns its head and the word ‘Arrrrgh!’ appears in white beneath it. The background features some ship elements and a red light that flashes on before the caption appears.

As I write this, I am on Day 10 of my experiment and I will definitely be continuing.

Since increasing my water consumption, I have a greater feeling of well-being overall.

I feel better when I wake up, less groggy, and my movements are easier. (I feel more fluid! Ha!)

I’m drinking fewer cups of caffeinated tea and some days I haven’t had any caffeine at all.

I haven’t been having as many snacks. I still snack when I’m hungry obviously** but I think I have reduced my number of ‘unconscious boredom’ snacks.

Of course, I’m sure some of this is psychosomatic but, truthfully, I don’t care. This experiment has been all upsides so far.

At this point, I know there’s big question in your mind and it goes something like this:

“That’s all good, Christine, but do you have to spend half your day going to the bathroom now?”

Nope. Pretty much the same as before.

(Which kind of makes me think that I really needed this additional water.)

So, I’ll be sailing on with this experiment for the foreseeable future.

Yo-ho-ho-ho and a (giant) bottle of water!

The photo shows my giant water bottle, a white mug (with yellow interior) containing ginger tea, a banana, a slice of cinnamon bread on a star-shaped plate, a week-sized pill-sorter, and a notebook opened to a white page covered in sketches of robots in yoga poses. A pen and pencil sit next to the notebook.​
A glimpse of the start of my Sunday (I’m part of an online
art group that has tea/coffee ‘together’ each week, hence the photo.) The photo is of the corner of my wooden kitchen table and shows my giant water bottle, a white mug (with yellow interior) containing ginger tea, a banana, a slice of cinnamon bread on a star-shaped plate, a week-sized pill-sorter, and a notebook opened to a white page covered in sketches of robots in yoga poses. A pen and pencil sit next to the notebook.

*I am VERY excited about my ability to do these kinds of experiments in the last few months. It’s all due to the mental space my increased ADHD meds are giving me. More on that in another post!

**I am strongly pro-snack. I cannot be swayed on this point.

advice · fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 18: Respect Your Resistance

How do you respond when your brain resists the idea of moving or meditating or doing any of the other things that are challenging in the short term but beneficial in the long term?

Do you try to stubborn your way through the resistance?

(I have had moderate success with this some of the time.)

Do you give into the resistance and just avoid your wellness plans?

(I’ve done this regularly in the past. It did not make me feel any better and I did not become any fitter nor did it lower my stress levels.)

Or, do you respect your resistance and try to figure out why it is coming up right now?

(This has been my most useful approach for dealing with resistance.)

Once you get curious about the nature of your resistance, you can often address some of the challenges that tend to bring it to the forefront.

Sure, sometimes resistance is just inertia – a kind of energy-based reluctance to change from your current state to new one and that’s when stubbornly pushing ahead will probably help.

Otherwise, though, resistance could have useful information for you.

Asking yourself questions about the specific nature of your resistance will bring any frustrations about your wellness plans to your conscious mind. Once you are consciously aware of the issues, you can decide how to address them.

(Even though we are trying to find out the ‘why’ of our resistance, I haven’t actually found it all that useful to ask myself why I am resisting my own plan.

Instead, I ask myself ‘What would I need to get started?’

Either question works, of course, and so would many others. Choose one that suits *you* best.)

Perhaps you are resisting your exercise session because you find it too cold when you are getting started.

Maybe you don’t want to exercise because you hate the music in the video you follow.

Your program might be too challenging for you right now, or you may find it lonely to exercise alone, you may be trying to exercise or meditate at the ‘wrong’ time of day, or doing certain exercises may stir up a bad feeling for you.

Perhaps you’ll realize that the goal you initially set isn’t actually all that important to you. Or maybe you’ll discover that you have accidentally been following a program someone else said that you ‘should’ do.

(Personally, I always resist a should but I don’t always realize that I’m doing it until I get curious about my resistance.)

No matter what comes up for you during this process, you will probably have the information you need to go into problem-solving mode.

Once you are in problem-solving mode, you can give yourself and your resistance the respect you both deserve and find ways to make it easier to get moving.

A photo of the author’s left hand.    She  has two gold rings on her ring finger and there is a  gold star sticker on the back of her  middle finger between the second knuckle on her finger and the knuckle on the back of her hand.
Here’s a picture of my left hand with a gold star sticker on the back of my middle finger. Here’s the story that goes with it: I was looking around the main floor of my house to determine which gold star to photograph today when my dog interrupted me to ask for a treat. I reached into the cupboard to get her one and when I withdrew my hand, I noticed this sticker. I have no idea where it came from but obviously I had to include it in this post!

PS: If you’d like some help brainstorming any obstacles you uncover in this process, let me know in the comments and I’ll put my brain in your storm for a while.

fitness · habits · motivation

Go Team! January 17: Clear a Path

Sometimes I feel like there is an obstacle course between me and my next exercise.

(Of course, if that obstacle course actually existed then completing *that* could be my new exercise plan but let’s carry on.)

It’s not usually big, tangible things like work or other tasks.

Often, it’s things like having to dig out my sneakers, or finding the right video on YouTube, or the stuff that always seems to find its way into the space where I want to exercise.

Now that I’ve realized how these (relatively small) things get in my way, I keep an eye out for those obstacles and clear them out of my path in advance.

That might mean setting out my clothes long before my planned exercise session. Or it could mean setting up my exercise space in advance. Even something like charging my wireless headphones can make a big difference in getting my exercise session started.

Basically, I do everything I can to clear the path between me and being able to exercise.

How about you?

What can you do to make it easier to start your next exercise (or wellness!) session?

Think about the obstacles that usually crop up for you when you want to exercise, consider the items you’ll need for your session, and then you’ll be able to figure out how to create a clear path to follow straight to your movement goal for the day.

A gold star ornament hangs amid  several white snowflake ornaments.
A few snowflakes don’t detract from the power of a gold star. 🙂
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · planning

Go Team! January 16: Pause Not Stop (a.k.a. Word Power)

I paused my workout plan for a few days this week.

I was sick on Monday and Tuesday so I couldn’t do my HIIT program or my yoga. I could manage to take the dog for very short walks and do a few neck stretches but that was it.

On Wednesday, I kept my cardio on pause but I could do some yoga.

On Thursday, I had lots of cardio at TKD and did yoga when I came home.

On Friday, I pressed ‘play’ went back to my regular routine.

As a storyteller, a writer, and a coach, I am all about the power of words.

That’s why I chose to say that I ‘paused’ my workout plan instead of saying that I ‘stopped’ it.

Stopping has a finality to it. You might start again or you might not.

Pausing feels like it includes an intention to start again.

When I’m coaching people and they choose to pause something they want to eventually continue doing, I ask them about their conditions for returning.

Will they start again after a specific time frame?

Does their return depending on finishing something else? (Another project, or letting an injury heal.)

If they aren’t sure about their conditions for returning, I ask them to pick a date or time when they will revisit their decision to pause. That frees them up from annoying themselves every day with ‘How about today? No?’ and it also helps them stay conscious of their plan to return.

If you have hit a snag in your workout plans, perhaps, instead of coming to a stop, you can make use of the power of a pause.

Obviously, if you can reshape your plans, that’s great. And it’s always a good idea to keep up the things that you *can* do, but go ahead and pause the plans that you can’t follow in the moment.

You don’t need to feel guilty about it. You haven’t failed, you haven’t messed up, and you aren’t quitting. You are being responsive to the reality of your life in this moment.

But by calling it a pause instead of a stop you are keeping the metaphorical door open for your return. You are making a conscious decision to temporarily alter your plans.

Fitness isn’t an all or nothing one-time project, it’s an ongoing, responsive plan.

And it is perfectly ok if some parts of that plan have to be paused from time to time.

(It’s also ok to stop your plan entirely if you find something that serves you better, but this post is about when you WANT to continue but you just can’t do it right now.)

Here’s your gold star for your efforts to increase your fitness by doing what you can and by responding to the reality of your life right now.

A gold star ornament hangs in the foreground, there are  decorated tree branches with lights and small visible pieces of other ornaments in the background.
This is a stock photo so this gold star wasn’t hanging on *my* tree, but I still wholeheartedly approve of its gold starry-ness.
fitness · habits · martial arts · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 15: Put on Your Dobok (or bandana or fancy socks or…)

If you are having trouble getting in the exercise frame of mind, creating an external cue might help.

Let me give you an example:

Last Sunday morning, I participated in an international online superclass for Taekwondo .

When I registered for the class back in December, I hadn’t noticed that it started at 7:30am Newfoundland Time.

I was excited to take the class but 7:30am on a Sunday seemed really hard. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into the Taekwondo ’zone’ and that I wouldn’t get as much out of the class because I would be sleepy and uncoordinated.

Luckily, I was wrong.

Even though it was early, even though it was a Sunday morning, even though I was online instead of in a class, once I put my dobok (my TKD uniform) on I was in taekwondo mode.

It was a kind of magic. One minute I was sleepy, grumpy, and vaguely regretful about committing to this. The next, I was awake, interested, and ready to get moving.

My dobok gave me an exercise context, it was an external cue.

After all, I only put my dobok on for Taekwondo. I don’t put it on to lounge around the house or to run errands, I put it on because it is time to go to class.

And, it turns out that any time can feel like class time…if I put my dobok on.

Obviously, most people won’t have a dobok but you probably have a piece of clothing or gear that symbolizes exercise for you, an external cue that will put you in a movement frame of mind.

If you don’t have one yet, it might be a good time to start developing one. Find something you can use or wear every time you exercise so, eventually, that item will tell your brain that it is time to get moving.

(A category of item can work just as well as an individual one, i.e. wearing any bandana around your neck could be an exercise cue, it doesn’t have to be that specific red one.)

Do you have a piece of clothing that puts you into exercise mode?

If so, what is it?

If not, what *could* you use to help you slip into that zone?

Keep up the good work, Team, building habits takes conscious effort and, like I said the other day, it’s okay to give yourself what you need to support those efforts.

Here’s your gold star for today!

A  multi-sided gold star ornament hangs on an orange-coloured wall.
Another day, another gold star.
Keep up the good work!
fitness · meditation · motivation · new year's resolutions · self care

Go Team! January 14: Multitask

Exercise is one of the few areas when we can actually multitask effectively.*

If you find it hard to fit exercise into your day, if it is a challenge to lure yourself into getting started, or if you find exercising a little dull, you might find it useful to multitask.

That might mean walking to complete some errands. (Or parking further from the store and then getting a burst of activity as you walk/run/gambol to the entrance.)

Or doing a few reps with each can as you put the groceries away.

You could use voice dictation to create a rough draft of something while you do some stretches.

Maybe the promise of listening to a podcast, a radio program, or a TV show would help you ease into starting your exercise routine.

Perhaps some exercise purists would say that your exercises will be less than perfect** if done while you are distracted, but who is trying to be perfect?

We’re building habits here, we’re not creating shrines to exercise.

This process is supposed to serve our needs and if listening to a podcast helps you get moving, then why *wouldn’t* you listen to it?

Today’s gold star is not only for your movement and self-care but for considering how multitasking might help you fit your wellness plans into your days.

A  person’s hand holding    a lit sparkler   that is generating star shaped sparks all around its top half. The background is blurred.
This sparkler is not a star, per se, but it’s star-like and definitely celebratory.

*Usually, multitasking is actually rapid task switching which our brains are not all that fond of, really.

**This might be the point where you say ‘But what about Yoga or meditation, Christine, I can’t multitask those.’ And I guess that’s true, in a way. Both of these things are about focusing in the moment.

However, yoga poses done while watching TV are better than not doing them at all. You won’t get all of the same benefits in front of the TV but you won’t get ANY benefits if you don’t do any yoga. And you can work up to the focused, on-the-may, type of yoga when you’re ready.

As for meditation: Again,you won’t get all of the same benefits if you sit quietly and breathe while listening to a podcast but you won’t get ANY benefits if you just avoid meditation entirely.

You could also try meditative doodling or painting if the idea of doing two things at once appeals to you but you can’t erase your mind around multitasking your meditation any other way.

fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions · planning · schedule

Go Team! January 13: Keep What’s Working (And Toss or Tweak The Rest)

How are you doing with your exercise and wellness plans?

If all is well, then forge ahead!

But if you are struggling to fit your new plans into your day, you aren’t alone.

It can be really hard to add something challenging to your existing schedule and stick with it.

But, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with YOU!

You aren’t failing, you aren’t messing up, and it definitely does NOT mean that you aren’t working hard enough.

All it means is that you have more information now than you did when you made your plans.

At this point, you have a much better idea of what works for you and where you might need to make some changes.

Perhaps your plan for early morning exercise isn’t working because you have too much to do at the end of the night before and you can’t get to bed early enough to get up at 6am.

Maybe the exercise program you selected is a notch or two above your current capacity and you need something closer to your current abilities.

Or you may have realized that your planned hour of exercise is too long to fit into your current schedule.

Or maybe you are dragging yourself through an abs program and you’ve realized that you hate every single exercise.

That’s all ok.

Your initial plans were not set in stone.

You are free to use this new information to switch things up to serve you better.

You can keep any part of your plans that is working and then toss or tweak anything that isn’t working for you.

Feel free to start over, start smaller, start at a different time, start a different program.

And try not to feel guilty about making those changes. I understand that ambient guilt floats around all of these things just waiting to attach itself to us but guilt can be less sticky when we are conscious of it. (I like to call it out when I feel it, literally saying aloud, ‘Oh, guilt, I recognize you! You don’t belong here.’ It’s a weird thing to do but it helps.)

Your exercise and wellness plans are YOURS. They are supposed to be about you and how you can feel better overall.

You don’t have to stick with any plans that aren’t serving you well.

So, if you need/want to, go ahead and reshape those plans.

Here’s your gold star for today’s efforts in movement, wellness, planning, tweaking, or tossing:

A gold star ornament   on a wooden tabletop.
Another day, another gold star!
fitness · motivation

Go Team, January 12: Give Yourself the Things You Need

Does your idea of the way you *should* be get in the way of getting the support to deal with things the way they are?

For example: For ages, I thought I *shouldn’t* need to set reminders to exexcise because if I really wanted to exercise, I would find an effortless way to fit it into my day.

That’s nonsense, of course.

I have lots of different priorities on a day to day basis and no matter how important exercise is it can get lost in the juggling of my different priorities.

When I finally gave myself permission to set reminders for everything I needed to be reminded of I had a lot more success and I relaxed about the whole thing.

We all lead complicated lives, and we have a lot of things to fit into every day. If we don’t make things easier for ourselves we will struggle to fit even the most important things into our schedules.

So, please give yourself the things you need in order to be successful.

That might mean you set reminders to exercise. Or even reminders to get ready to exercise.

Perhaps you sleep in your workout clothes so you can be ready to go in the morning.

Maybe you need a pair of kneepads for when you do yoga because it’s too uncomfortable otherwise.

Perhaps you make a list of exercises to do.

Or you buy yourself a set of gold star stickers to stick to the calendar after every exercise session.I

f you want to exercise regularly give yourself the things you need, emotionally, physically, psychologically, logistically, or socially, to give yourself the greatest chance of success.

And try not to think of any ‘shoulds’ connected to it.

If you have a plan in mind and it would be easier if you had certain supports in place, then, by all means, get those supports in place.

Even if those supports seem silly or ridiculous, if you need them, you need them.

Don’t ‘should’ yourself away from anything that will help.

Give yourself the things you need when you need them.

You can do this!

Here’s Your gold star for today’s efforts:

A GIF of a five-pointed gold star with a sparkly white part in the center.
Such a shiny star! A worthy marker in celebration of your efforts so far.
fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team, January 11: Text a Friend

I’m sure you already know that exercising with a friend (or in a class) is a good way to keep yourself on track with your fitness plans.

But, what about if your plans are mostly solitary?

Maybe you like to workout at home.

Perhaps you enjoy going for walks alone.

Or, given current circumstances, perhaps you HAVE to work out alone, no matter what you prefer to do.

Either way, it means that you don’t have that extra boost of motivation to rely on when you are feeling kind of meh about your exercise plans.

If today is one of those meh days, I have a suggestion:

Text a friend.

(Note: you can call/email/message a friend, instead, obviously. That’s just not as catchy as ‘Text a friend.’)

Tell your friend what you plan to do and ask them to check in with you to see if you’ve done it.

(You can also offer to check in with them about one of their meh tasks, too.)

That little bit of accountability can make a huge difference in your motivation and help you flip the switch from meh to done.

After all, most of the time we just need a small thing to tip the balance in favour of our exercise plans. That impending return text could make all the difference.

And, of course, you can set up a regular check-in with your friend if that serves you both well.

Be kind to yourself! Keep moving!

Here are two gold stars today, one for you and one for your friend.

A close-up of wo  gold-coloured star-shaped lights  hanging on the branches of an artificial Christmas tree.
This tiny tree is actually decorated entirely in gold star lights. It’s like encouragement grows on trees over here. Ha!

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team, January 10: Remember What You Like About Your Activities

When I’m not exercising, I tend to forget that I actually *like* moving.

When I am not meditating, I forget that I find it helpful.

I find the same thing about almost any activity I enjoy.

When I’m engaged in the activity, I love it, but when I’m not, all I can think about how hard it is.

So, since I want to take good care of myself, I like remind myself about the things I enjoy about the activity I plan to do.

‘It’s hard to get on my mat but I love how I feel when I get into child’s pose.’

‘It would be easier to keep sitting here but if I exercise, I’ll get to do all those kicks.’

‘I don’t know if I will be able to settle into meditation right now but it feels great to breathe so slowly and deliberately.’

You’ll notice that these reminders are about how I will feel DURING not after.

They aren’t long term results, they aren’t about finishing my workouts or meditation, they are about how I will feel while I am actually exercising or meditating.

I wonder if you might find it helpful to consider what you enjoy about your workouts or self-care?

Reminding yourself about the fun parts might be just the motivation you need to get on your mat, on your bike, or onto a meditation cushion.

Here’s your gold star for your efforts today:

A woven gold star rests against a dark green wall.
Another gold star from my house. Yes, the place is full of them. I like a lot of encouragement.