ADHD · fitness · motivation · self care

Christine tricks herself into more mobility exercises

I’m sure that, by now, we all know what my brain is like.

It either wants me to do all of the exercise things or none of the exercise things. It either thinks that I can’t possibly do enough or that there’s really no point in doing just a little.

Even though I know better, my brain gives me pushback on these things every damn time.


Recently, I’ve had some successes.

Last week, I wrote about how I managed to reframe my muscle soreness into a positive sign.

This week, I wanted to tell you about how I have coaxed my brain into believing that mobility exercises “count.”

A dog rests her head on a flannel pillowcase. She looks pensive.
This photo has nothing to do with my post. Unless you choose to believe that Khalee is trying to convince me that all movement counts. Or maybe she’s suggesting that I should take a nap? Photo credit: Steve Drodge Image description: A photo of my light haired dog, Khalee, resting with her head on my pillow. The photo is mostly of her face and she looks kind of pensive. My pillowcase is light blue flannel and is covered with a variety of monsters and the word ‘scary’ is printed here and there across the fabric.

Obviously, intellectually, I know that mobility exercises count. Everything counts when it comes to movement (and to building new habits!)

But I’ve always had a lot of trouble making myself do them because there’s no immediate payoff – they don’t FEEL like they count. They’re annoying and they are boring and it takes a lot of work to make myself stop what I am doing and start those exercises.

Now, despite all that, I’ve actually done pretty well for the last couple of months with doing one hip mobility drill before bed. And most days in March I’ve managed to do one shoulder mobility drill in the morning. A good start but it has often taken way more energy than I’d like to make myself do the drills.

And while my hips and shoulders have shown a little improvement, I knew that I needed to do more if I wanted a bigger improvement.

So I needed to figure out how to make it easy to get started, how to do enough to give me more results without wearing myself out. And I needed to find a way to make sure that I could tel that my exercises counted.

So, I have been doing the good habit-building technique of adding them to something I’m already doing. i.e. I’m doing my mobility exercises before or after my Fitness + exercise sessions each day.

So that’s one part of the trick – I am already in exercise mode so it feels pretty easy to add in my hip circles or foot stretches or whatever.

The second part involves making sure those exercises feel like they count…or at least, making sure they are counted.

I hate counting reps (it makes everything feel like it takes waaaaaay longer) so I usually set a timer for anything I need to do over and over. Using a timer didn’t help me convince my brain that the exercises counted though, because I was still only seeing a few minutes here and there.

But tracking with the fitness app on my watch has let me overcome that issue. Now I choose a video of the kind of exercises I want to do, I tell my watch that I’m doing a workout in the ‘other’ category, and it starts recording my minutes.

This makes all the difference in the world for my brain because the video length lets me know that I won’t actually be stuck doing these exercises forever (even if it feels that way) and using my watch to track it as an ‘other’ workout means that I can see how the short sessions are adding up to something bigger.

At the end of the day or the end of the week, I can see how much time I spent doing ‘other’ workouts and it feels tangible and useful instead of piecemeal and pointless.

By using my watch and a video, I can spend less time thinking about when and how to do these exercises and more time actually doing them. This process is way less frustrating because even though I have described this as tricking myself, I am actually working WITH my brain instead against it and that means I require far less energy to get each exercise session started.

Do you have any tricks you use to get your exercise sessions started?

Do you also have trouble making yourself do mobility or rehab exercises?

Do you have a favourite YouTube channel or Instagram account for these kinds of exercises?


My bike is a mobility device – who knew?

As a kid, my bike was for fun. As an adult, I have always thought of myself as a commuter cyclist. I was never interested in road racing, or cross-country cycling or any of the other specialized cycling options involving fancy bikes and Lycra.

I have realized, however, I actually need my bike as a mobility device. I live close enough to my work place that I can walk. Except:

  • when it is too hot
  • or too cold
  • or when the sidewalks are icy
  • or when the sidewalks are unploughed.
  • or I have my laptop and my lunch and who know what else to haul in a backpack.
  • or when it’s raining
  • or when my feet (knees, hips) are sore.
My poor sore feet. The left one has a scar from past bunion surgery. The right one show a growing bunion that will eventually need surgery.

I am not the only one. People who have e-bikes use them for far more than short leisurely rides. A recent study about e-bike use in Norway found that “The people who bought e-bikes increased their bicycle use from 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) to 9.2 kilometers (5.7 miles) on average per day; a 340% increase. The e-bike’s share of all their transportation increased dramatically too; from 17% to 49%, where they e-biked instead of walking, taking public transit, and driving. You can read more about the study here.

Melissa and Chris Bruntlett are Canadian urban mobility advocates and authors of Building the Cycling City, The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. In their view “Cycling is, for many people, a powerful mobility tool. Moreover, building wide cycle paths also helps create space for people that are on tricycles, adapted cycles, mobility scooters, and other modes.”

Adult tricycle with two child seats on the back and a wire basket on the handlebars. Photo is by Peter Biczok, who spotted it in Hungary.
An older woman with her hair in a ponytail and wearing a large knapsack rides an electric tricycle in Leiden, Netherlands. The tricycle is laden with packages and bags in the back, on the front and from the handlebars. Photo originally shared by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett on Twitter.
A woman rides a hand-powered adapted electric tricycle in Amsterdam. She is accompanied by a husky-type dog on a leash. Photo originally shared by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett on Twitter.

For now, I am perfectly content with my regular winter and summer bikes to get around. But I can definitely see a an electric bike or a regular/electric cargo bike or trike in my future.

ADHD · ergonomics · flexibility · health

At a desk? On the floor? Where is Christine working?

In an effort to spend less time sitting in a chair, I have been experimenting with standing, sitting on the floor, and lying down while I work, read, or watch TV and as I was going through all of those different positions while writing the other day, I reminded myself of this improv game:

Link to a video from the UK version of an improv TV show called ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ The image shows three men in blazers on a TV set, one is sitting, one is lying down, and one is standing.

I think I was less awkward than that but I can never be sure. 😉

Once upon a time, I had a standing desk. This was before my ADHD was diagnosed and I did find it quite useful because I could fidget a fair bit while doing my work. However, once I really dug into what I was working on, I would end up standing in the same position for long periods of time and my body was not a fan of that. 

In fact, I would actually end up with most of my weight on my right leg, my right hip jutted out a bit, with my left foot only lightly touching the floor to give me balance. I’m pretty damn sure that standing habit contributed to my overall challenges with my right hip. 

a flamingo stands on one leg in a wetland, the other leg is slightly raised and it’s knee is bent. ​
Fairly accurate depiction of my standing desk days. My office wasn’t quite as damp as this, though. Image description: a flamingo stands on one leg in a wetland, the other leg is slightly raised and its knee is bent.

I kept a standing desk for years but at some point, I realized that having to stand up to work had become one more obstacle between me and my tasks. It was mostly subconscious. It wasn’t like I was thinking ‘UGH! I have to stand up? Blech.’ But, over time, it was becoming harder to get started and once I dug into that feeling a bit I realized that standing up was part of the problem. 

So, I went back to a sitting desk but whenever I thought of it I would stand up to do voice dictation or I would prop my keyboard on something so I could type while standing. This, combined with a timer app that helps me focus for short periods and then take a break to move around a little, has helped me get important things done without sitting still for too long.

Then, last year, I started incorporating more squatting into my daily routine and I do a supported squat sometimes when I read or when I watch something.

And I often bring my yoga mat down to the living room when my husband and I are watching a show so I can do stretches or just sit on the floor while we watch. 

In January, once they went on sale, I bought a reading mat and bolster cushion so I could be even more comfortable lying or sitting on our laminate floor while I read, watch TV, chat with my family or even attend webinars where I don’t have to be on camera. 

So, I was already open to the idea of spending more time at floor level when I came across a video (below) a few weeks back from someone who always works from the floor. I have occasionally done some journaling or drawing while sitting on my mat but I hadn’t tried doing any extended work from the floor. If it did cross my mind, I probably dismissed it because I didn’t want to spend any extra time hunched over during the day. 

Before you watch this, I want to be clear that I am not necessarily endorsing the claims they make about the benefits of floor sitting and that I really wish they had said ‘dawn of humanity’ instead of ‘dawn of man.’

Link to video from a company called Plant Based Partners. The video is about the benefits of sitting on the floor to work and the still image shows a person with long hair sitting on the floor with one leg curled into a cross-legged position and the other folded into the position your leg holds in a squat. The person is sitting on a mat and is surrounded by low office furniture – a table, a credenza and a printer table. A small dog is also sitting on a soft mat nearby.

Once I saw the video though, I clued into the fact that I had more options besides hunching over or lying on my stomach to write in my notebook like a movie teenager –  I could raise my work surface to create a more comfortable working position.*

So, now I have a whole variety of ways to get comfortable while I work or relax and I feel better  for it. Switching positions during the day gets me moving but even when I am staying still I don’t end up holding the same posture for an extended period of time. 

My body likes that and so does my brain. 

Do you alternate positions during your work or relaxation time? Which ones work best for you?

Since all of our bodies work differently, I know that my options may not work for you but I would be interested to know what does. 

Do you schedule a time to shift? Do you choose positions based on task? Or do you just move when you get uncomfortable? 

I can’t rely on noticing that I am uncomfortable, sometimes ADHD hyperfocus gets the best of me, so I make a plan for what tasks I am going to do where, and I use a timer.

PS – In trying to find the link for the video above, I also found this very useful video for getting used to sitting on the floor. Tips for sitting on the floor – The Floor is your Friend: Comfortable sitting positions on the floor

*Meanwhile, if I had consciously decided to work on the floor, I would have had a full brainstorm of ideas about how to make it more comfortable. I hadn’t chosen to focus on it so my brain had just dismissed it without further consideration. Brains are such pests sometimes!