ADHD · cardio · fitness · goals · health · motivation · self care

Christine is aiming for better than average

I have picked a word for the year – spaciousness – but I hadn’t really settled on a fitness goal until this weekend when I found a new category of information in my Fitbit.

In my average week, I’m moving a fair bit. I take the dog for a walk or two each day, I usually have two TKD classes in a week, I do a bit of yoga and some stretches and a bit of strength training.

A light haired dog rests on bedsheets folded back from where someone got up.
Here’s Khalee supervising while I do yoga. She has such a hard job! I am really a lot of trouble. Image description: Khalee’s head, shoulders and front pays can be seen as she lies on the crumpled top sheet and blankets from my bed. She is facing the camera and her chin is resting on the blankets where they were folded back from when I got up. Her eyes are half-closed and she look looks restful but observant.

Lately though, I have come to realize that I am not really moving the metaphorical needle on my fitness level. I’m maintaining what I have but my efforts are not particularly focused and I’m not feeling any sort of expansion in my capacity.

Part of this is due to my issues with my toes/heel/calf/knee, of course, and luckily that situation is improving steadily. And, up until now, I have been juggling about three things more than I had capacity for at any given time – I could manage to hold most things in the air most of the time but that was it.*

However, some combination of ADHD and personality also factors into this. I never really know when and how to push myself, it’s tricky for me to judge my capacity and energy levels at any given time, and I am never sure if and what I should measure.

I’ve been keeping an eye on my resting heart rate over time but since I don’t wear my Fitbit when I sleep, apparently that’s not a very accurate measurement.

And I check off the box for daily movement but my effort levels vary from day to day. I’m not criticizing myself for that but it does mean that I am maintaining rather than expanding my capacity.

However, this weekend, I accidentally nudged a different part of my Fitbit screen and discovered that I can get more information about my cardio fitness above and beyond just my heart rate.

This puts my numbers in context. I LOVE context!

Fair to average isn’t bad but I’m sure with a little more focused effort, I could get to good and maybe even beyond.

So, in a move that is probably startlingly obvious to anyone who doesn’t live in a ADHD time/pattern soup, I looked up how long it takes to improve cardio fitness and what kinds of exercises will help me see a little progress ASAP. (I know that you can’t rush results but I also know what my brain needs.)

So, now I know that I need to make some of my workouts HIIT workouts and, in about two months, I should see myself inching toward that next blue bar.

In the meantime, I going to try not to check this screen every day hoping for a magical shift. I’ll post about it once a month though, just to keep myself on track.

A screen capture from a Fitbit app showing that the user's cardio fitness is between fair and average.
Image description: A screen capture from my Fitbit app that indicates my cardio fitness on a multicoloured bar with numbers ranging from 24.6 to 39.5. My fitness level is indicated at Fair to Average 27-31 and is in a blue segment of the bar. Text at the top of the image reads: Heart Rate. Cardio Fitness. Your estimate is between Fair and Average for women your age.

PS – I undoubtedly knew some or all of this before. And I may have put some pieces together before. If you had asked me, I probably could have told you that improving cardio fitness is a good idea and that things like HIIT would help. However, when I want to take things on for myself, I always need to have proper context in order to hold on to or apply the information I have. For some reason this chart gave me the right container for the information and let me make a plan. The new level of ADHD meds I started in early December are probably helping this whole process, too.

*Yes, I know that is not an idea situation to be in but I knew it would be relatively short-lived and the effort to juggle was far less than the effort to adjust all my other routines so I just got help where and when I could, took breaks whenever possible, and just juggled the heck out things the rest of the time. And, finally, as of mid-December, a few things finished up and I was back within my capacity and mostly in charge of my schedule. YAY!

fitness

Happy Betwixtmas!

I’ve written about this week before, the strange week between Christmas and New Year’s that we’re calling Betwixtmas now.

Mostly for me, it’s never been a thing. For me, for most of my life, the week between Christmas and New Year’s has been a regular working week. The people I grew up with held the kinds of jobs that didn’t go on hold. My parents were bakers and my friends’ parents were mechanics, nurses, transit workers, truck drivers, police officers, and so on. Only the school teachers and maybe some civil servants had the week off. Kids were off school but parents worked and somehow we all had to cope.

I didn’t know any university professors.

And my life for a long while also fell into the ‘working the week after Christmas’ pattern. As a student journalist that was the week of cheap hotels and the annual meeting of Canadian University Press. As a professor, it was the week of the American Philosophical Association’s Eastern Division meeting. I know lots of people hated the timing but I loved it. After a week off before Christmas with family, I confess I was ready for a week of seeing old friends and of Philosophy.

The APA has long since given up that less than family friendly date and now its new dates instead overlap with the start of the teaching term in Canada. Me, I’ve joined the rest of the working professionals for whom the week between Christmas and New Year is technically a holiday. I say ‘technically’ because I also have a long academic to do list–drafts of papers, referee reports, reviews of people going up for promotion for other universities, etc etc. If you’re an academic, you know the drill.

This year this week has seemed extra ‘betwixt and between’ because thanks to the pandemic, lots of things to do just aren’t happening. I like to see friends this week and we’re not doing very much of that. I had a long list of movies I wanted to see in the theatre but that isn’t happening either. I am reading fiction, catching up on some shows I’ve wanted to watch (Witcher!), eating lots of chocolates, wearing my new socks, and riding my bike lots.

Just 60 km left before I reach my year end goal of 5500 km!

Also, I definitely need to eat a vegetable!

(I like the suggestion of someone on our Facebook page that for the weeks around the holidays, clementines count as vegetables.)

How do you approach the week between Christmas and New Year’s? What’s on your plate this week?

Here’s my past post about this week:

fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · self care · stretching

Making Space: Day 19

I’m patting myself on the back right now for taking my own advice.

I was looking at my schedule for the week and I realized just how much time I was planning to devote to things I didn’t want to do.

Obviously *some* of those things need to be done anyway (glerg, grocery shoppping) but some of them are things that need to be done at some point (sigh, reorganizing two shelves in the basement to make it easier to find things, for example) but definitely don’t need to be done this week. I was unconsciously pushing myself to get them done as if the holidays were some kind of deadline for household order.*

Even if I were having a crowd over for the holidays, those basement shelves and the other organizing tasks on my list would still not have to be done this week.

Soooo, I dropped those ‘do at some point’ things right off my schedule.

And now I have more space for fun things and interesting things and things that actually need to be done this week.

Weird how that works, hey? Getting rid of unnecessary things on my schedule made space for more enjoyable things. Who knew?

In the space I created by not having to take time to schedule those tasks, I tried this upper body warm up video.

I enjoyed it but I just held the neck stretches instead of alternating them so quickly.

A 5 Minute Warm Up Workout: Upper Body from the Modern Fit Girl YouTube channel. The still image shows the instructor in exercise clothes standing on an exercise mat on tile floor. Her arms are extended behind her and she is leaning forward. The video includes 8 exercises that are all done for 30 seconds each,

And here’s our meditation for today. I looked for a short one that promised mental space but apparently creating mental space requires 10-15 minutes. I’m not ready for a meditation of that length yet so I chose this one instead.


A guided meditation for calming the mind from the ABC Science YouTube channel. The still image is of desert sand, which has been blown into soft ridges, extending into the distance. White text reads ‘Guided Meditation (5 Minutes)

Whether you did these videos, dropped something from your to do list, or created space in another way, I wish you ease and rest today.

Here’s your star for your efforts: ⭐️

*This whole pre-holiday cleaning/organizing business is something I need to consciously work to get out of my system. Sure, it’s swell to do a re-set of my house every so often but it sure as hell doesn’t have to be in December.

fitness · habits · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · stretching

Making Space: Day 18

I’m starting with our meditation today.

Earlier, I thought I was feeling fairly relaxed. My day isn’t particularly busy and my writing is going well. I have been able to set my own schedule and things are good overall.

I went to YouTube found the meditation video for this post and pressed play.

As I breathed through it (this one has a visual to breathe with, I love that!) I found myself anxiously looking at the time bar at the bottom wondering why it was taking so long to do a 5-minute practice. I realized that my mind was hopping over to my writing. And I found that my shoulders were braced like I had to ‘push through’ the practice.

Hmmmm, interesting, hey?

I wasn’t hard on myself about it. I tried to just notice and keep coming back to my breath – I did ok with that.

I kept breathing. Time kept crawling.

And then I started to feel my shoulders and neck relax. I hadn’t even noticed that my neck was tight until it released.

And my breathing got even slower and I started to feel even more calm.

So, I guess I especially needed this video today.

If you are in this metaphorical boat with me, I hope the video helps you, too.

A 5 minute breathing exercise video from the Daring Authenticity YouTube channel. The still image is of a circular shape made of overlapping petals in a rainbow of colours. The shape expands and contracts during the video to guide the speed of the viewer’s breath. The image background is a speckled white.

Breathing is a fundamental way to make space for ourselves, especially in our own brains, but it is not the only way.

A little movement helps, too, and this ‘office break’ video was exactly what I needed today. I particularly liked the shoulder move where you are reaching forward and then pressing back.

If you aren’t feeling up to doing this whole video, you could try watching it until you see a movement that feels doable and just do that one. Consider the video a menu instead of a to-do list.

A 5 minute office break workout from the BodyFit by Amy YouTube channel. Still image shows the instructor standing next to a wall sign that says ‘5 Minute Office Break”

I hope you find whatever space you can in your day today, whether it is through these videos or by pushing the clean laundry aside on the couch so you have room to sit with a crossword puzzle and some tea.

Here’s your star for your efforts: ⭐️

And if you have been reading these posts and thinking ‘That star isn’t for me, I haven’t done anything at all!’ Here’s an extra one for you: ⭐️ Our lives are complex and parts of them are really hard, let’s be kind to ourselves and accept those gold stars. Your efforts matter.

Even if the results are not what you hoped, your hard work counts.

Wishing you ease and space today and always.

media · soccer · team sports

Fitness in Ted Lasso

In Apple TV’s Emmy-winning show, Ted Lasso (TL), the titular character is a goofy, Kansas-born football coach who must adjust to a very different life as head coach of a pro football (North American soccer) team in England.

Screenshot of Ted Lasso Talk Facebook group
Screenshot of Ted Lasso Talk Facebook group

I watched both seasons, then I joined ~22K fans in the Ted Lasso Talk FB group. Some fans of not only the show but also the sport of football discuss with enthusiasm actors like Cristo Fernández (Dani Rojas) who are real life football players, and parallels with real-life players and actual British clubs.

But you don’t need to be a football fan to participate in the lively conversation. TL fans love to ask and answer questions about all aspects of the show (many have watched both seasons multiple times). So I asked folks to share what they’ve noticed so far about any representations of exercise and fitness.

[WARNING: Modest show spoilers]

Exercise Made Fun(ny)

Coaches have to find the right words to inspire their teams during practice. Here are a few of Ted’s choice expressions to get his team in action (crowdsourced enthusiastically by the FB group fans):

  • “Your body is like day-old rice. If it ain’t warmed up properly, something real bad could happen.”
  • “Touch your toes. Now touch each other’s toes! Your feet fingers!”
  • “Making quicker transitions from offense to defense. Y’all gotta start making your hellos your goodbyes.”
  • “We all know speed is important. But being able to stop and change directions quickly? Well, that’s like Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak. It don’t get nearly enough credit.”
  • “We’re gonna call this drill ‘The Exorcist’ ’cause it’s all about controlling possession.”

Ted doesn’t use the traditional language of training and exercise; rather, he makes quirky comparisons and memorable pop culture references to get his team moving.

What Fitness Looks Like

All the players on the fictional AFC Richmond team appear physically fit. In the locker room scenes, outfit changes reveal lean, muscular, ready-to-run bodies. A few times we see players using the treadmill and free weights, but there aren’t a ton of game, practice, or training scenes that highlight the pro players’ peak athleticism.

Instead, as one TL fan noticed, in the S2 finale it is the rival football team that is shown doing physically intense calisthenics (while Nate, recently defected from AFC, looks on). By comparison, Ted has his team on the pitch practicing a choreographed dance routine to N’Sync’s 90s hit song, “Bye Bye Bye.”

Other fitness activities portrayed relate to characters’ hobbies and social lives. The sports psychologist loves cycling. The gruff former star player-turned-coach shares a weekly yoga practice with retired women (then drinks rose wine with them afterwards). Ted is a crackerjack darts player, and he walks to work with his Assistant, Coach Beard. There are some pre- and post- sex scenes. So mostly, it’s regular people fitness.

Nutrition and Food

Representations of food and eating in TL do not follow sports nutrition myths, fads, and stereotypes. The players scarf fast food kabobs, drink beer in the locker room and out at the bar, and share potluck dishes they bring to a holiday meal. There is no excess of supplements, restrictive eating regimes, or protein shakes.

Coach Ted is as sweet as the food he shares and enjoys. He brings club owner Rebecca Welton home-made biscuits (sugar cookies) everyday. On the topic of sugar, Ted says, “I’ve never met someone who doesn’t eat sugar. Only heard about ’em, and they all live in this godless place called Santa Monica.” And on his favourite dessert, he says, “Ice cream’s the best. It’s kinda like seeing Billy Joel live. Never disappoints.”

The Fitness of Teams

In this sports dramedy, characters manage the stress not of the daily grind of elite level fitness training but of various personal issues and relationships. Although they come from many different countries and ethnic backgrounds, the team players chat, bicker, and support each other as a team. As one TL Facebook group fan responded, “I love how fitness is not the centre of the story. Football and exercise are their job, but community and relationships are the centre.”

This LA Times article interviewed pro soccer coaches and players who are also TL fans because of the way the show features the interpersonal and psychological aspects of team play. The article quotes one American men’s national team coach who says that the strength of TL is not football itself but rather everything around football: “I don’t watch the show for what I see on the field. That’s not the point […]. But I think, in any sport, a lot of team success is what happens in the locker room. And they get that absolutely right.”

So, with the help of the fan group, I have discerned that TL is not, ultimately, a show about the fitness of professional football. However, there’s much more to say on how TL represents team dynamics, psychological health, and gender in sports. But I’ll have get back to you on those topics—after consulting further with my 22K fan friends.

ADHD · fitness · habits · mindfulness · motivation · stretching

How do I need to move today?

About six weeks ago, I started using this new app for building habits and routines and as a result I have been moving and stretching for at least 8 minutes as soon as I get up each day.

(The app is called Fabulous and I love how it helps me structure my day but I’ll do a proper post about the app another time.)

Folded towels, lit candles, and a tulip, placed on a wooded floor to create a peaceful scene.
Some truly alarming things came up when I searched for ‘habit’ so I am using this one from my search for ‘meditation’ instead. Image description: a softly lit, peaceful photo of a rolled towel on top of a folded towel with four tealight candles lit in front of it. A dark pink tulip is lying on the wooden floor in front of the candles.

When I started, I thought I would pick a video or routine to follow and just keep going with that. Usually, I do better with making those sorts of decision in advance because sometimes my ADHD brain sees even the smallest decision as an enormous obstacle.

However, that’s not how things worked out. Sometimes I have done a video, sometimes I have done yoga, and sometimes I have taken Khalee for an extra walk. Mostly through, I have started each session by asking myself a question:

How do I need to move today?

And then I move the way my body tells me to.

I have filled the eight minutes with shoulder and neck exercises. I’ve done squats and lunges. I’ve stretched my back. I’ve moved my feet in all kinds of circles and up and down motions. I’ve done cardio, I’ve danced. I’ve done everything except make a plan.

A notebook and office supplies are shown on a wooden surface.
Apparently this is what planning looks like in the WordPress photo library. It’s not too far off but that page needs to have half a list on it with at least two items crossed off and rewritten. Image description: a notebook lies open on a wooden surface. There’s a pen on the notebook and sticky-notes, tabs, and highlighters are nearby.

Each day is different and I’m throughly enjoying this responsive process – I have never been able to pull anything like this off before.

I’ve tried just going with the flow in the moment lots of times but I would either get tangled in the decisions or I would find the idea of the decisions so (subconsciously) off-putting that I would find myself avoiding the whole thing.

As I said above, in order to have any hope of sticking with something I usually have to decide in advance. This time, though, I am feeling a new freedom in setting my timer and then just responding.

I don’t know *why* I am now able to relax and just move mindfully for those few minutes but I love it – it’s great for my body and for my mind – and I hope it continues.

A person frolics in a huge field of pink flowers
And this is what freedom looks like, apparently. I’ll take it! image description: a red-haired person in a huge field of pink flowers flings their arms wide open while leaning their head far back to look at the blue sky.

Would you have to plan your movements in advance? Or do you already have my newly-found skill of listening to your body?

cardio · fitness · habits · holiday fitness · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · wheelchairs

Making Space: Day 4

Welcome to Day 4!

I hope you have found some space for yourself over the past few days, whether or not you have included movement or meditation.

Always remember that you are doing the best that you can with the resources that you have. Some days will be easier, some will be harder, but you don’t have to blame yourself for the hard ones.

Being hard on yourself doesn’t make you more focused or more disciplined, it just makes you feel bad. No one needs more reasons to feel bad.

Please try to be kind to yourself and to notice your efforts, no matter how things turn out in a given day.

Here’s your gold star for your hard work: ⭐️

And here are your videos for today.

I really enjoyed this workout from Ella Beaumont. The video is 15 minutes long but the workout itself is only 10. That’s because she demonstrates the 5 exercises at the beginning and gives you a one minute rest in the middle. I liked the format and I like how she is upbeat without being overwhelmingly cheery. *

A cardio exercise video from Ella Beaumont’s YouTube channel. The still image shows Ella wearing black workout clothes, sitting in her wheelchair, holding a broom aloft. There is a couch with brightly coloured cushions behind her.

This meditation video was quite calming and I particularly liked the bubbly image that you could watch throughout.

A meditation video from the Mindful Peace YouTube channel. Still image shows the logo from the channel (a person in seated meditation enclosed in a circle) and the words Mental Reset in white. The background appears to be an underwater view of sunshine with bubbles rising on all sides.

Whether you do with either of these or just take a few minutes to observe what’s outside your window, I hope you find some space for yourself today.

*I get *why* a lot of instructors have a constant stream of encouragement chatter but it is often distracting for me. Ella was encouraging without being in-your-face about it.

fitness

400!

Almost two years ago, I joined in the 220 workouts in 2020 challenge that fellow bloggers were doing on Facebook. I liked it because I could set my own rules for what counted as a workout. But it was also a real challenge because I had decided that my usual commute to the office didn’t count, and I was a bit of a weekend warrior except for that daily bike ride or walk.

Because of the COVID lockdowns, even that weekday commute was gone, while my dance studio, the swimming pool, and the stable where I board my horse were all closed. For several months, I had to improvise.

I started to go for walks and ride my bicycle to do errands (they had to be longer than my usual work commute to count). I found that I could sometimes sneak in a quick swim at the nearby pond at lunchtime. I discovered Yoga with Adriene and other Facebook Live or Zoom classes.

By the end of 2020, I had developed enough of a routine that I achieved those 220 workouts. A big part of that was checking in daily to see what everyone else was doing. I liked seeing a little bit of the lives of a diverse group of women – their dogs, watching them take on weightlifting or gymnastics challenges I would never dream of, sympathizing on the days when getting out of the house for a stupid little walk was a big deal.

Grumpy looking bald eagle stomping through the water, on his stupid little walk for his stupid mental and physical health.

In June of this year, Tracy said she was done with counting. Not me. I am a list maker and a tracker of many things. That daily accountability check has encouraged me to take advantage of yoga sessions a colleague offers twice a week, to schedule walks with friends, and to try new activities so that I move almost every day.

Now, after almost two years, the habit has become sufficiently ingrained that I get twitchy if I am inactive for too long. Unlike Tracy, I am not confident I could keep it up without some sort of tracking. If that fitness group were to disappear, I would keep on tracking, even if it is just a list in my phone.

This week, I celebrated completing 400 workouts. They weren’t all great workouts and I don’t think I look more fit. It feels good to have achieved that number. I am stronger, both physically and in my mental ability to keep doing things regularly. My sister says my swimming selfies are boring because I have so many and they are all basically the same. That’s a sign of a successful routine.

Me in a blue swim cap and goggles, with a pond and trees in the background.

Diane Harper lives and swims in Ottawa.

aging · birthday · fitness

The Liberatory Power of Aging (Tracy turns 57)

Image description: Tracy, smiling 57-year old woman with grey hair just shy of shoulder length, dangling earrings, two necklaces, tank-style top, abstract painting in background.

So I turned 57 yesterday, and though I didn’t much feel like celebrating (because it’s hardly any sort of milestone birthday), I did. I took the day off and did only things I enjoy, starting with a 6 am workout with Alex and a hot yoga class a little bit later. I had lunch with a friend at my new favourite lunch spot (The Tea Lounge) and we each bought some of the art that was hanging on the restaurant wall. My parents drove in to spend the weekend with me, which is a celebration in itself that makes up for many missed visits during the pandemic. We went out for dinner to a fancy place (fancy at my mother’s request and it was amazing) and my mother baked two cakes for this afternoon. And we are getting take-out tonight (also at my mother’s request: “why should we cook?” she said. Why should we, indeed?!).

Birthdays always make me take stock, reflecting on what the year has brought, where I am “in life,” what’s working and what might need to change.

What has the year brought? The past year has brought a sense of monotony that I have not known before. At times, during pandemic stay-at-home orders, I felt as if I was living one long day. Yes, it was punctuated by sleep and meals, zoom sessions for this and zoom sessions for that, but oh the sameness of it all. Some days it took real effort, I have to say. Thank heavens for the kittens!

And yet, I developed routines, like regular workouts with Cate’s trainer Alex’s virtual training sessions, running, walks (sometimes with a neighbour in my building) and at-home yoga (mostly with Adriene). Despite the joy of being able to get out again, I am resenting having to revise these routines (so I can get out the door to get to work in the morning now that I’m not longer working at home).

The virtual world also opened up some new rituals with friends and family out of town. Movie night on Friday and Monday night dinner (all on Zoom) with my friend and former grad-school housemate Diane who lives in Iowa. Regular family zooms on Sundays with my brothers and parents, everyone joining from a different part of the province. Daily check-ins with my friend Steph, who lives in London but during lockdown (especially through the winter) we couldn’t see each other in person much. Fairly regular Wednesday evening fireside gatherings with a great group of women (even through last winter). Another Sunday call with my friend Manon who lives in Guelph. And periodic check-ins and occasional visits from a few other reliables, including Sam (but I guess we’ve been doing that since she moved away a few years back) and my step-daughter Ashley who lives in Vancouver.

Looking back then, I would say this year brought: monotony, consistency, and a focus on valued relationships.

Where am I “in life”? I think even writing this post indicates that I am in a sort of existential moment. Maybe that’s another thing the pandemic brought. Let’s just say I’m not where I expected to be as I turned 57. I’m on my own again, for the first time in a couple of decades, and not feeling super-motivated to change that. Though I do sometimes miss having a steady companion, I appreciate my solitude more. I’ve got a few more years of career ahead of me before I retire, and am trying to decide whether to ramp up or start winding down. If ramping up (the likely choice), ramping up in which area? Research and teaching? Administration? Still mulling.

Work is not life, of course, so where am I with other things? I’m reading more. Doing less photography. Doing more yoga, less running. Sleeping more, travelling less. More attention to family and close friends, less spreading myself thin across too many commitments.

A consistent theme for me of late, and I think it has come with age, is that I feel less “beholden” to others. I’m at a place in life where I really do feel tired of being so concerned with what others think of my choices. It’s exhausting to wonder whether I “measure up” to some external standard(s) that I may or may not embrace. I’ve had a lot of time through the pandemic to consider what I value. Experiencing more quietude and solitude has brought me in touch with my inner compass, with less of the magnetic pull of noise and busy-ness and the opinions of others to interfere with where it’s pointing me.

That can make me feel strangely and paradoxically untethered sometimes, but radically free and unburdened at other times. That’s where aging has a certain liberatory power. I have wondered at what age will I stop being so motivated by the prospect of approving others. It may be this age: 57.

What’s working? Hey, you might be saying: isn’t this a fitness blog? Well one thing that is working lately is my approach to fitness. And that’s partly because more and more it is guided by what I feel like doing. I realize that some people will say they can’t do fitness that way because they don’t usually feel like doing anything. In fact, I myself have said in the past (2013) that “intuitive fitness” doesn’t work for me. But I came to change my mind about that (2019).

My word of the year, “mindfulness,” is working. I’ve had a lot of time to pay attention and cultivate awareness in ways that make me feel more and more grounded. If I feel “off,” which has happened a lot during the pandemic, my commitment to mindfulness has helped me uncover what is going on with me rather than distract myself from it. Over time, this has been a great practice that always keeps me hopeful.

Doing less, which has been a theme of mine throughout the life of the blog, is definitely working for me these days in the rest of my life. I am not one of those people who idealize the pandemic for the way it made us all hit “pause,” but I have to concede that I like having more unscheduled time, more quiet evenings at home, and fewer social commitments (despite that it sometimes felt monotonous). I plan not to return to the old, overfull schedule.

What needs to change? I’ve had a lot of change over the past three or so years, and I’ve not quite settled yet. I called this post “the liberatory power of aging” because I really feel free to go in whatever direction I want. I’m less beholden to people, as I noted earlier, but that’s partly because I’m at an age where people aren’t expecting anything much. Rather than lament that, to me it’s a source of freedom. What that means to me is that although there are some things (within my power) I would like to change, like more photography, more writing (both scholarly and creative), more meditation, more knitting, and more consistent running, I’m still uncertain where this “transition” is going to land.

And I’m okay with that, and with this rambling blog post that may not be all that interesting but still felt good to write. Happy birthday to me.

Have you felt freer as you got older?

fitness · health · strength training

YouTube Rabbitholes and Squatting Advice

Usually I set up a playlist of YouTube videos to watch while I zip back and forth on the rowing machine but one day last week I forgot and just clicked a single video.

The resulting rabbithole of videos brought me to this useful video about deep squats.

I haven’t given much thought to squats because I’m pretty good at them. I usually only overthink exercises that I struggle with (Ha!) and I wouldn’t have searched for a video on squatting.

So, except for YouTube’s algorithm I wouldn’t have seen this video and then I would have missed out on some intriguing advice.

Taro Iwamoto has solid incremental progressions for getting into a deep squat which are useful but the real gem for me here was his advice about when to use squats.

He says not to think about squats as an exercise but to think about how to make them part of your daily routine. In particular, he suggests reading or watching TV or eating a meal while squatting, starting with short periods and increasing when you’re ready.

I have often thought about my fitness in a functional sort of way, considering how my efforts could help make my daily activities easier. But I don’t think I have connected my exercises and my activities the way he is suggesting.

I’ve already started squatting for a few minutes while reading (and I’ve written part of this post while squatting on my yoga mat) and I am intrigued by the idea of incorporating more stretching/strength training type movements into other parts of my day.

I’m not thinking of this in a multitasking sort of fashion and I’m not trying to ‘sneak in’ some extra exercise.

It’s more like exploring what ELSE I could be doing instead of sitting or standing in one spot for routine tasks.

I think it will be interesting for both my body and for my busy brain.

Image description:  a GIF  from the animated series ‘Pinky and the Brain’ in which The Brain, a large-headed, white cartoon mouse with pink eyes and ears is asking Pinky, a skinny white mouse with blue eyes and pink ears, one of his regular questions “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Image description: a GIF from the animated series ‘Pinky and the Brain’ in which The Brain, a large-headed, white cartoon mouse with pink eyes and ears is asking Pinky, a skinny white mouse with blue eyes and pink ears, one of his trademark questions “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

So, if you drop by my place and I’m reading a novel while in downward dog or I am washing dishes while standing on one foot, you’ll know what’s up…or down, I guess. 😉

What aspects of your exercise routine could you incorporate into the rest of your daily life?