fitness

Going back to the gym (the not quite aftertimes story)

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Image shows two worn dumbells with white lettering against a grey background. Photo by Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash

We’ve reached more than 30 days without an active case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. My province is at level 2 in its COVID-19 reopening plans and the Atlantic bubble opens tomorrow.

I haven’t been to a gym environment since March 18, more than three and a half months.

During the lockdown, I kept moving but not in any focused way with a dedicated time slot for physical exercise.

And I was okay with that. I have been sidelined before by injuries to my hip and shoulder and I have learned to incorporate conscious movement throughout my day to compensate.

Mostly I tried skipping and yoga stretches. Now that summer is here, walking is on the agenda. If I get an appointment for my bike before the snow flies in the fall, I might get back to learning how to ride again.

But I miss the gym. I miss lifting things. I miss the chalk. I miss the bars. More than anything I miss pushing myself to do more.

I don’t really miss other people in the gym.

I realize that for me to go back to a regular gym, it will have to look very different. At my last gym, there were too many people around. I realize that too many people in my space now are more than distractions; they are sources of worry and fear. I don’t find it uplifting or motivating.

With life resuming a new pace and businesses reopening, things are different. There is a greater expectation for trust. I worked in public health for 10 years. I know what we all need to do to prevent infection and its spread. I know we have to rely on community commitment, but I also know we have to mitigate risk.

Gyms are great places for germs. Not everyone was careful about wiping down equipment in a couple of gyms I had memberships in during the before times.

It was one of the reasons I went with private training in private gyms. More control. Less worry. Less fear.

As our lives open up, we still need to be careful. My trainer is looking at options. What isn’t optional is maintaining a clean and safe space. We share that value and it makes me very happy.

The pandemic has taught me that it’s not about having access to all the wonderful equipment (you can actually do a lot with basic tools). What I really want is the direction, the instruction, the practice of training.

While I won’t be going back to a conventional gym any time soon, perhaps not at all, I know I am ready to train, to claim my time for conscious physical effort. In business there’s a saying: if 80 per cent of success is showing up, then 20 per cent is following through. When I think about the last four months, I think about the things we have lost. And yet we have also been given many other things — appreciation for boundaries, recognition of community and individual priorities, and respect for patience and peace.

Those have been good lessons and they are ones I can take with me every time I can step up to the bar. I’m ready now, to show up and to follow through. It will be different and that’s okay.

— MarthaFitat55 is a writer who trains as a powerlifter and moonlights with yoga and swimming.

fitness

Seeking inspiration

Many of my friends have been adapting their living spaces during the pandemic to allow them to work from home. First seen as a temporary measure, work from home is becoming a permanent option as companies and employees look forward to the next two years.

It’s not just about working from home but also working out from home. From yoga and high-intensity routines to creatively modifying everyday objects for gym equipment, our homes are segmented into zones for living, working, exercising, gardening, crafting, and oh yes, baking.

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My kitchen currently has this poster Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake (shown above), playing off the old British war slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. Quilting friends have signs on their sewing room doors indicating a variety of moods. This one is my favourite:

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So it occurred to me if I was redesigning one of my corners to manage my workout equipment (yoga mat, skipping ropes, stretch bands, yoga bricks etc), what inspiration would I like to see to give me a smile and a positive nudge?

Most of what I found is rather “bro” in focus: Beast Mode; No Excuses; No Pain, No Gain etc. I’m not keen on those that use body shaming, guilt, or alcohol, and if you do find any featuring women, they tend to rely on thin, blond, ultra feminine presenting humans to sell a message (which is okay for those who see themselves there but not for me).

Many are also quite funny in a gentle way like this one, which combines my love of pie and coffee:

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However, it doesn’t get to affirming my choice to move consciously and work my body in a challenging way. I thought I would ask you, dear readers, what would you find positive, feminist and inspirational to hang on your walls in your workout space?

MarthaFitat55 lives in St. John’s.

fitness

COVID-19: weight stigma and change

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Black and white photo of a building shows thin curves and fat curves Photo by Joakim Nådell on Unsplash

It’s finally happened. A group I drop in and out of online was discussing an upcoming online meeting. A member asked if they had to have video on: “It’s just I’ve gained a few pounds since this all started.”

I’ve seen the jokes and memes about fattening the curve. But this was different.    Here was someone ashamed to show her real face to the group. All because she‘d gained a few pounds.

I like food. I like cooking. I especially like cooking for others, particularly groups of friends who like food too along with laughter and talk. The pandemic has put a stop to that last one but I’m hopeful in a few weeks that will change.

We are into our fourth month of this new reality. Maybe it’s the sunshine, the heat and Finally seeing friends and family, but I’m more relaxed and hopeful. I know it won’t be easy but I’m okay with our new normal.

Not fine But okay. I wasn’t really okay in month one of the pandemic. But chocolate helped. So did comfort food like soup, stew, macaroni and cheese.

People talk about eating their feelings. And maybe they do, but comfort food is healing food. I needed to heal. We all did.

The fact is comfort food is familiar. It’s something we know. We are living in a time when we don’t have control and there’s lots that’s unfamiliar.

I’ve thought a lot about comfort and security, how we build it, sustain it and make it grow.

I won’t judge anyone For what you did or didn’t do re health and fitness and nutrition during this time. I don’t care if you Gained 15 or 50 or none at all with the ongoing sheltering in place rules.

The underlying message about gaining weight is that you’ve let yourself go. That you failed. I think that’s wrong. You found what you needed to cope with this phase. You’ll find something else to cope with the next phase. It will balance out if you let it.

fitness

Recharging the brain

By MarthaFitat55

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Image shows a white woman in a field of sunflowers with bubbles in the air around her. Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Earlier in the week I was talking to a mom with elementary aged children and she described how they try to get out at least once a day. Sometimes she calls it gym and off they run; sometimes she goes out alone to give herself space.

Now that the snow has melted in my area of the country, going outside is hugely appealing. There’s something about being outside under a big sky that recharges the brain and makes working outside seem fun and invigorating, even if the only thing you’re doing is yanking weeds by the handful.

Maybe because we couldn’t move freely outside at the start of the pandemic it became even more important to bring the outside in. if it wasn’t blowing a gale or pouring rain, I’d open the windows every day.

I don’t have a lot of houseplants because we have people in our house with allergies, but I love looking at something green and growing when everything looks bleak during our very late spring.

I read an article about starting vegetables from root ends and now I have five celery plants sending up lovely vibrant shoots. I’m told they will turn into fully fledged celery stalks in about five months, so every week I start another in hopes that by midsummer I’ll have enough for a substantial fall harvest.

I’m planting a garden for real this year. I remember when we had strawberry beds: they were a lot of work to keep weed free. According to WebMD, the energy expended by gardening and yard work generally is pretty good:

  • Shoveling snow: 400-600 calories per hour
  • Heavy yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt): 400-600 calories per hour
  • Raking and bagging leaves: 350-450 calories per hour
  • Gardening: pulling weeds, planting flowers, etc.: 200-400 calories per hour
  • Mowing the lawn: 250-350 calories per hour

About five years ago I heard a presentation by a neuroscientist who said our best brain work can take place outside under a big sky with the sun shining. At the very least we can give ourselves a big mental boost by being in the open air and we can give ourselves a great physical boost by walking, playing, or working outside.

With all the concerns about being inside re: the risk of transmission of COVID-19, our best bet for staying physically and mentally well can come from being outside, safely distant from others, or by playing with others who are within our bubble.

It’s been a long grey winter and spring for us, literally and figuratively. I’m looking forward to embracing the outdoors more fully this year.

— MarthaFitat55 lives in St. John’s.

 

 

fitness

Getting my skipping groove on

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Image shows an orange skipping rope against a bright purple background. Photo by Stoica Ionela on Unsplash

The pandemic has meant I am unable to go to the gym nor the pool. It’s a downer as the former is challenging and the latter is meditative and calming.

As part of the process of adjusting to our new normal, I have been doing mostly stretches and floor exercises designed to keep strength in my back, my core and my legs. My trainer taught me one she calls eggshells and which I simply call fiendish. But it works and who am I to gainsay my trainer?

However, I miss the intensity the gym brings to my fitness plan. Our weather in spring is rarely friendly to walking, and only this week have we seen the sidewalks emerge from the over generous dumps of snow we got in January and  February.

In the first couple of weeks of the stay at home directive, I looked at what fitness equipment I have at home. Aside from my yoga mat, a wobble board, a few giant elastics (also fiendish) and the Death Star (truly evil), my searches revealed a skipping rope.

Now I haven’t skipped since I was in junior high, or maybe even earlier. It took me a couple of attempts to get back in the rhythm of the movement, but then the muscle memory, as old as it was, came back to me, along with a bunch of random snatches of skipping songs.

Before I went down the rabbit hole of searching out the complete verses of the aforementioned rhymes, I looked into skipping as a form of exercise. It’s pretty good in fact, with lots of benefits.

Aside from the cardio (even doing a low impact version can get your heart rate up), skipping works your whole body, including your core, your legs and your arms. It’s kinder to your knees and joints than running.

According to some trainers, skipping helps you with coordination and stamina, as well as focus.  It’s affordable (most skipping ropes are less than $10 and often you can find them quite cheaply at the dollar store). It’s convenient: you can do it inside or outside your house whenever you like.

Most importantly, it’s fun. Because it’s been awhile since I have done any major cardio work, my plan is to start off slowly, using the walk-a-minute-run-a-minute model our local running store uses in their learn to run program.

My driveway is clear, my sneakers are ready, here I go.

MarthaFitat55 usually engages in powerlifting, yoga and swimming but these days is open to anything that will keep her moving.

fitness

Where’s the yeast?

My social feeds are filled with people baking as they stay home during the pandemic. The grocery stores report shortages of yeast and flour as everyone gets their bake on.To borrow a line from Doonesbury, Gary Trudeau’s long running political cartoon series, we’re eating more carbs, y’all!

I’d like to think that today’s post will add to that happy relationship, but I fear not.  Back in January, I heard about a new cookbook so I wrote off to the publishers to request a review copy. As a long time baker who has done her share of contributions to feminist fundraisers including a long running stint as a producer of 20 pounds of butter crunch yearly for the rape crisis centre, I was intrigued.

Rage Baking, by Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford, promised a look at the transformative power of flour, fury and women’s voices. In a way it did, but not I imagine, in the way the authors thought it would or should.

I am not going to cover the ground already well trod by other writers. Suffice it to say Tangerine Jones, the creator of the concept of rage baking as a female-empowered political act against racism, wrote an incredibly detailed piece here about her work was appropriated, capitalized, ignored and initially denied by the authors. Her post covers everything from the silencing of black women’s voices to the lack of acknowledgement for her creative act within the greater context of similar acts of oppression. And you can go here to read the response from the authors, who thank Jones for starting the conversation (an ill conceived approach to a serious allegation, but that’s a discussion for another day).

Alford says in the introduction she was inspired to ragebake in response to the Bret Kavanagh hearings in 2018 and tat as she began to explore the idea, she found others doing similarly. Curiously, she did not include Jones but see above for more about that.

For the record, I find ragebaking as a concept antithetical to the change work I engage in. Baking for me is an act of comfort, to release stress and rage. If I actually did bake in a rage, whatever I would produce would not be fit to eat. Food, and the sharing of it, has also been a constant presence in my last 40 years of active feminism.  Or as my friend’s child noted once when they saw her making a familiar casserole: “Another feminist potluck, mom?”

Setting aside my own feelings, I read the book looking to learn how baking actually served as a transformative process. I struggled with the idea that feminist, woman-powered rage started in 2018. Or even 2016. There is a very long, very rich tradition of food as a tool for organizing, and I didn’t get any of that history, or any sense of connection to earlier movements made change happen without the internet, social media, or even faxes.

To suggest women’s anger is a recent phenomenon is a huge disservice. It’s interesting that the one entry that does look at women’s anger (by Rebecca Traister) will be removed from future editions of the book at her request in light of the Jones’s fiasco. She writes:

Women’s anger has been buried, over and over again. But it has seeded the ground; we are the green shoots of furies covered up long ago.

We are the green shoots of furies covered up long ago. Yes, yes we are. And we are angry for a multitude of reasons, many of which Traister described in her own very good book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. But Rage Baking is not really going to help with any of them, except for our filling our need for comfort and calm with food, the kind usually comes with a good cup of tea and a hug, before we hit the trenches again.

The problem with this book is that it is neither fish nor fowl. It wants to be a cookbook and it wants to be a political handbook with essays driving action and change. There are lots of interesting recipes from some fabulous, radical women and some of them have cool story to accompany them. And there are some interesting essays. Overall though, it left me pretty flat, or as my younger friends say, it was meh. There is a lack of cohesion here, as well as, surprisingly, a lack of heart, both of which defy understanding. Had Jones been involved from the start, we would likely have had a very different book. As it is, we have so much work left to do, that it might be best if you considered other approaches, unless your goals, as is Jones, is to build a kinder, more caring community as an antidote to the system oppressions which surround us.

— MarthaFitat55 writes and bakes in St. John’s.

 

 

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Self care for mental health in a pandemic

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about looking after your mental health and well being during the pandemic. Since I work a lot in the area of mental health wellness and policy, I try to live the practices I learn about to manage everyday stress.

One of the things I have been sharing with friends is the need to grieve the loss. Our way of life has changed, and most likely, permanently. What happens in the next few months and after that is anyone’s guess. Some people may find Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — a useful way to process all the feelings.  Also, regardless of how I have listed them here, it’s not a linear process.

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The pandemic, though, is not everyday stress even if we are feeling it every day. I thought you might be interested in some of the things government agencies in Canada and elsewhere are offering to help. I’m quite glad to see the variety of material as we have had to deal with a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health and illness.

The relative openness about mental well being is a positive thing we should recognize and is an important part of the WHO’s recent updates. Their focus these days is on emphasizing that physical distancing does not mean social isolation. They also recognize the importance of building psychological resilience. I hope some of the links that follow are helpful to you.

The public health system in England has come up with 14 things you can use to protect your mental health.  Here’s a super-condensed version:

  • Consider how to connect with others
  • Help and support others
  • Talk about your worries
  • Look after your physical wellbeing
  • Try to manage difficult feelings
  • Manage your media and information intake
  • Get the facts
  • Think about your new daily routine
  • Do things you enjoy
  • Set goals
  • Keep your mind active
  • Take time to relax and focus on the present

For the science-minded among the readers, here’s an interesting article looking at what we have learned from past epidemics. The authors focus on what we can do better going forward and why we need to also apply psychological first aid when working with people in our communities during this time. The article considers the impact on providers as well as people in the community. They write:

The outbreak of pandemics has a potential impact on the existing illnesses, causes distress among caretakers, and affected persons and leads to an onset of mental symptoms among the young or old, which is possibly related to the interplay of mental disorders and immunity. In order to avoid the mental health effects of the COVID-19 infection, people need to avoid excessive exposure to COVID-19 media coverages, maintain a healthy diet and positive lifestyle, and reach out to others for comfort and consolation that the situation will soon be contained. Everyone should maintain a sense of positive thinking and hope and take personal or group time to unwind and remind the self that the intense feelings of fear, panic, and anxiety will fade. Additionally, seek information from reputable government sources for information and avoid the spread of erroneous information on the internet.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has put together a website offering evidence-based information and links from across the country. Their focus is on providing information you can trust: “In times of high anxiety and stress, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your mental wellness. That includes stemming the tide of non-essential information (my emphasis) and paring down your news consumption.”

Another Canadian site comes from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. They offer a variety of coping strategies to deal with the stress and anxiety you and others may be feeling. What I liked about the site was their recognition that not all tools will work for everyone equally: “Some might apply to you and some might not – or they may need to be adapted to suit you personally, your personality, where and with whom you live, or your culture. Please be creative and experiment with these ideas and strategies.” CAMH also recognizes that a key factor driving ur fear, anxiety and stress is the uncertainty that underpins our lives today with respect to the virus.

I hope you find the material in the selected links helpful. Remember to connect to people you care about, to look after yourself, to take time to focus on the good in your life and to wash your hands and take appropriate precautions. Be well, stay well.

MarthaFitat55 lives and works in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador.

fitness

Prioritizing your mental fitness

Almost 20 years ago, I attended a workshop on self-care for front line workers. It was not long after 9/11, an event in which I spent a lot of time helping people stay calm in the face of great uncertainty.

The workshop leader gave us all a great piece of advice. She said, remember the airplane directions: always put your own mask on first before helping others.

In these days of great social change, when upheaval is the new currency, when the lack of a routine or the imposition of a new one with working from home or coping with job loss seems like a burden you cannot attempt to carry, or when the social distance required for public safety has started to unravel the threads in your personal safety net, it can be really easy to forget your own needs.

I have struggled with making physical fitness a priority in the past. I found making a schedule, committing to training, and blocking out the time as fixed were strategies that helped me make it happen.

Part of that was fear that I couldn’t keep up, that I was too unfit or incapable of actually doing the moves required. Part of it was also the expendability of women’s time when there are already so many demands from other sources: child and/or pet care, home care, elder care, work priorities, community responsibilities etc.

It came home to me a couple of days ago that the impact of keeping away from people generally and minimizing social contact when carrying out essential errands also required me to focus on maintaining mental fitness.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the news in our communities, or from places around the world where we have family, friends and colleagues also facing similar fears, concerns and challenges. Over the past week, I have talked with friends and colleagues about managing the stress created by meeting the guidelines for protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our community from COVID-19.

We are not alone in this. In case though, you find asking for help challenging, especially when it comes to building up your mental wellness and fitness, I took a look to see what is out there to help.

The WHO has prepared a comprehensive document you can use to develop your own mental fitness plan. It outlines issues and options by category, from health workers on the front line and those in isolation to caregivers of people with dementia and elders. It has a list of guidelines for the general population:

  • Acknowledge the global scope and be empathetic to those directly affected
  • Minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed (set a specific time of time day to gather information so you can avoid a constant stream of data;
  • Seek information only from trusted sources to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones
  • Protect yourself and be supportive of others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.
  • Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images
  • Acknowledge the role frontline carers play to save lives and keep your loved ones safe.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has shared specific strategies to help maintain mental wellness (slightly edited here for length and repetition):

  1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those.  Wash your hands.  Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news.
  2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. Make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.
  3. Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. Take a walk. (My note: Or if you don’t want to go far, sitting outside your door or next to an open window so you can feel the fresh air on your face and see sky, trees etc are always helpful.) Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
  4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment.  Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
  5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support.  You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

This image offers some great things you can do as a reminder.

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Image shows a poster with a number of coping strategies. Created by Carie Stephens Art, TheCounsellingTeacher.com

Some things I am doing now include:

  • jotting down key accomplishments in my diary (can be whatever it means to you — for some that could be getting washed and dressed; for others, it can be walking their dog; remember you do you)
  • checking in regularly with my circle of friends
  • setting aside a chunk of time to do something that makes you happy (I’ve been watching cute baby — human and animal — videos before bedtime)
  • creating an asset map of things I have in my life
  • normalizing my routines (some are the same and some are new, like handwashing as soon as I get in the door of my house after a grocery run and wiping down all surfaces)

This website offers a great collection of strategies: from meditations and music to journaling and mindfulness activities. How about you? What are the things that you are doing to look after your mental fitness? Be well, stay well.

— MarthaFitat55 lives in Newfoundland, getting her physical and mental fitness on in multiple ways.

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Motivation to rest

I have been attending a yin yoga class for seven weeks now, and it’s been a very productive approach to managing my hip issues. Each week the yogi picks a theme we reflect on as we engage in the poses.

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Image shows an older white woman sitting on a mat with her legs crossed and her arms clasped together. Photo by Keren Perez on Unsplash

Last week the theme was motivation. Exercise-reluctant me went “great, another way to engage with feeling fit and well.” Given the volume of snow that has fallen in the region, being motivated to do anything can be a struggle.

As we started in our first pose, the Butterfly, my mind mimicked the moves of the namesake insect. My thoughts went flitting from one flower to another, thinking briefly on the myriad of things I have to do in the run of a day and also my week.

As we shifted into the next pose, I realized the yogi had also shifted her focus. This whole class was about motivating ourselves to respect rest, to be motivated to embrace its power to heal and energize.

I’ve been looking at sleep and rest for a while now. I’ve written about it here with respect to tracking tools. There’s also some solid research looking at the links between sleep deprivation and increased rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.

But I had never really thought about motivating myself to rest. In this class, I came up against some of my resistance to rest especially when ill, or over extended. There is a tendency to expect women to push through whatever ails them.

Part of my issue is that I often see sleep or naps (as much as I love them!) as time lost, as time away from getting the things that matter done, instead of seeing rest as something that is really important, in and of itself.

It’s a distinction that we need to make. When I look back at the last seven weeks, I realize that the yin yoga practice has become a way to give myself permission to rest, to make a space in my week where restoration is actively pursued.

We sink into poses, we rest in the slight movements or changes of position we need to achieve the tension required to support the stretch, the lengthening of ligaments, the relaxation of the fascia.

In this practice we end the session with shavasana, or corpse pose. Its purpose is to remove any tiredness resulting from the effort of getting in, stretching, and getting out of each pose and to rest in the space where our minds are calm and we no longer flit about from topic to issue, from need to crisis.

How we get into that pose is deliberate, focused on ensuring we have what we need to rest actively instead of passively. Do we have blocks to support our knees? Shall we use bolsters on which we can rest our legs? Are our heads comfortable and our necks supported appropriately? Are we warm enough?

Making rest a priority, through sleep, through naps, and even through yoga, matters not just for health but also fitness. My trainer says sleep is the best way to heal. If I want to perform better in the gym as well as in my daily life and work, rest has to become one of my big rocks.

What about you? Do you need motivation to rest? How do you achieve peace and relaxation in addition to good sleep? Tell us more in the comments.

MarthatFitat55 lives, works, plays and rests in St. John’s.

 

 

 

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Getting in the groove of personal challenges

Last fall I participated in a work place challenge with a team. I had a lot of fun and I wrote about it here.

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Young female in blue polka dot dress twirls in a living room with a piano and couch in the background. Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

Over the holidays, I thought about the things I wanted to do this year from a fitness POV. Coincidentally, I saw a post about from blog co founder SamB talking about being part of the 219 workouts in 2019 group.

Hmm, I said to myself, that sounds like fun. So I joined the group for 2020 and the goal is to make 220 workouts this year.

I’m at 20 which averages 10 a month for me to date (and February is not over yet!). There are lots of people in the group who have double, triple and even quadruple that number, but it doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because there are others like me, just finding ways to keep moving, especially during the dreary days of winter.

What I love about this activity, and I’m not much of a tracker, is that it’s a gentle nudge to keep moving because daily I see all the fun things people are doing to move.

There’s been walking, skiing, biking, yoga, skating, hiking, swimming, running, cross fit, weightlifting, zumba – the usual. But there’s also been playing with toddlers, wandering in the woods with dogs, laundry, housecleaning, bellydancing, shoveling, stretching, aerial hooping, tennis, roller derby practice, and a whole variety of movement classes and personal routines with handweights.

I had long understood housecleaning as exercise because there is lots of movement, but how much movement? Could I quantify it in some way?

The next time I set to do the laundry – the sorting, the washing, the hanging up, the folding, the putting away – I tracked my steps. In the first hour, I logged more than 3000 steps and I realized that in spite of momentary pauses when setting the washer or dryer, I was non-stop. I was up and downstairs, I was lifting and setting down baskets, I was bending, stretching, walking, and in some cases jogging from one place to another.

Laundry won’t replace my yoga, swimming and lifting sessions but I am more conscious about how often I sit in the run of a day and how often ordinary activities related to daily living can add movement.

I’ve also been inspired to see what else is available in my community. I may not try aerial hooping, but there may be a whole bunch of other things I can try. I won’t know unless I look.

What about you, our readers? What things have you tried that bring fun and movement to your life every day?

— MarthaFitat55 lives in St. John’s.