fitness

GIFs that get me going

Summer is ending here in the Northern hemisphere. As the days start to get colder, I find it’s usually harder for me to get outside for regular exercise. Fall is also a busy time for folks like me who work in education, so compared to the summer months my free time for recreational activities seems to shrink to near nothing.

On a hitherto unrelated note, I recently learned that Gen Z thinks that GIFs are out of fashion, or “cringe” as the kids say. However, I’m late Gen X, which means I like to hold onto things.

So, today I am here to give both outdoor fun and GIFs another short moment in the sun.

FIFI readers, I share with you 14 GIFs that get me motivated to get outside! I hope they get you going too…or at least give you a smile.

Once I leave the earth I know I’ve done something that will continue to help others – Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Young girl flipping a tire
Woman swinging on rings with a hula hoop
Girl flipping then throwing a baseball
Young in a fairy dress skateboarding
Woman doing a chin-up outside
Woman hitting a pickle with a racket
Woman flexing and posing
Woman doing soccer ball kick tricks in high heels
Young girl dancing with other kids watching
Woman jumping on top of a mountain
Girl dribbling two basketballs at the same time
Love it!
School sports are for everyone
ADHD · fitness · yoga

Finding Ease By Doing The Easy Thing

Over the past few years, in an attempt to counter the natural ‘but what if…’ tendencies of my ADHD brain I have been reminding myself to ‘do the easy thing’ whenever I can.

This isn’t the same as ‘taking the easy way out.’

Instead, it’s about 1) figuring out the easiest/most straightforward way to get something done 2) making sure that approach will cover the key details/meet the needs of the people involved 3) only adding more complexity if needed.

So, instead of letting my brain branch out into every possibility, I try to find what feels easiest and check if that will work before letting things get more complicated.

Sidenote: Recently, I was thrilled to hear a similar concept when listening to a 2020 episode of the Translating ADHD podcast called ‘Letting It Be Easy With ADHD’

Yes, some things are inherently complex, difficult, or challenging but not everything has to be difficult and complexity for complexity’s sake doesn’t really help anyone.

Can I remember to do the easy thing every time?

No. I cannot.

Do I *try* to remember to do the easy thing whenever possible?

Oh hells, yes.

How does ‘do the easy thing’ play out in real life?

Like this:

At the beginning of last week, I noticed that I was really worn out

Not sleepy. Not tired.

Worn out.

My brain immediately started with an elaborate and overwhelming plan to address the problem but I somehow managed to put the brakes on and ask myself…

What’s the easy thing?

The answer was not more sleep, it wasn’t time off, it wasn’t big discussions about my workload. The answer, the easy thing, was to do short sessions of yoga and meditation before bed.

It felt so straightforward, so easy and so good, that I was drawn to do the same thing the next night. And the night after. And the night after that…

Now, at day 9, the easy thing has made a wonderful difference in how I feel, no complex plan required.

An evening shot of a yoga mat and blocks on a patio with flowerpots and string lights. A dog is sniffing the yoga blocks.
Khalee is uncertain about yoga blocks so she had to do a sniff test. This photo makes her look like she has flipped a block with her nose but actually the cork block is propped up on the other one. Image description: An evening shot of a yoga mat and blocks on a patio with flowerpots and string lights. There’s a shawl thrown onto the mat and Khalee, my dog, is sniffing the blocks.
A post meditation shot. I found meditation relaxing but I think Khalee was on guard the whole time. image description: a sort of selfie of me and Khalee. My face and part of my right upper body can be seen on one side of the image but the majority of the shot is of Khalee sitting low on the patio, staring past the camera to some dog-determined minor threat. My patio sliding door and part of the inside of my house can be seen behind us. The lights on my patio rail are reflected in the glass door.

fitness · health · season transitions · self care

Sweaticating. Yes, I made that word up.

Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about the heat. We don’t get enough good weather here as it is. I don’t want to complain and risk a weather deity’s vengeance.

So, this is not a complaint.

It’s an observation.

I’m just observing that it has been especially warm and humid (for this part of Newfoundland) this past week or so and I am not acclimatized to it at all.

In fact, it often leaves me feeling a migraine is hunting me and it could catch me at any minute.

And that’s just about as fun as it sounds.

So instead of trying out new exercises or adding a bit more time to my usual routine, I’ve just been sweaticating.

According to the lexicon of my 9 year old self (and that self’s friend Rochelle) sweaticating is when you are so warm that everything you wear sticks to you and you mostly feel like lying around eating popsicles.

A woman reclines in bed saying ‘I’m sweating’ while fanning herself with her hand.
She’s just sweating, not sweaticating but she does look like she could use a popsicle. Image description: GIF of Alexis from the TV show Schitt’s Creek is reclining in bed fanning her armpits with her hands and saying ‘I feel like I’m sweating.’

Popsicle lounging what I *feel* like doing but since I’m an adult (or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile, at least) I know that lying around eating popsicles will eventually leave me feeling much worse.

So, while I have eaten my fair share of popsicles and I have done a nice bit of lying around recently, I have also been following my bare minimum self-care plan.

What does that look like?

Taking Khalee for walks after supper instead of in the late afternoon.

A light haired dog on a leash stands on grass near a wooden fence
I picked this photo because Khalee’s expression cracks me up but that particular evening it had rained a bit so it wasn’t quite so warm. Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog in a harness and leash, stands next to a fence. Her body is pointing away from the viewer but head is turned back toward the camera and she looks like she is asking ‘Are you going to catch up or what?’

Doing some writing on my patio under the shade of a tree.

I set up one of my outdoor tables so I can stand and write/draw. Foolishly, my first attempt had me facing my neighbour’s fence. This view is way better. Image description: My notebook is open on a white table that is attached to my patio rail. My pencil case and pen are covering most of the lined page of my notebook and I have a travel container of iced tea on the wooden railing above it. There’s an orange lawn chair and an empty fire pit amid the grass beyond the patio rail. (The firepit is on concrete slabs but the grass is too long to see them in this shot) Tree trunks, lower tree branches and a wooden fence are in the background.

Yoga, stretches, slow-motion TKD patterns, and other low-key exercises outside once it gets dark.

A nighttime photo of a patio lit with string lights.
Night yoga for the win. Image description: An inviting nighttime photo of my patio. My railing is lit with string lights and a small patio burner, my yoga mat stretches out from the right hand side of the photo and in the far corner is a chair with a red cushion and a table with a flowering plant on it.

I’m not following my ideal plan but I am doing what I can and taking good care of myself while (mostly) avoiding that predatory migraine.

How about you?

How are you taking good care of yourself these days?

PS – If things haven’t been going so well on that front, why not give it a whirl today.?

Start small, rest a little…maybe have a popsicle.

A GIF of a dog eating a popsicle
A GIF of a small brown dog in a striped sweater eats a yellow popsicle that is clutched between its front paws. The words YUM YUM are at the bottom of the image.

ADHD · fitness · fun · yoga

Choosing the fun part first

The weather here in Newfoundland and Labrador is tricky at any point and doubly tricky on the May 24th weekend.*

I have spent May 24th weekends wearing shorts, I have been rained out of planned adventures, I have shoveled snow from in front of a tent. And, on several occasions, I have worn shorts, a raincoat, and then mittens all on the same day.

So when Saturday rolled around and the weather was beautiful, I knew that my usual Saturday stuff inside could wait.

I had to get outside ASAP just in case things took a turn.

a selfie of Christine wearing sunglasses with her hair pulled back by a black bandana. She is outside, the sky is blue and the sun is directly behind her.
I couldn’t actually see my screen when I took this but since it made me laugh, I’m sharing it. This is a rare, non-smirking photo. Image description: I put my phone on my yoga mat and took a selfie looking upward. The majority of the image is blue sky but my head is looming at the bottom of the image and only the top 4/5 of my face is visible. I’m wearing sunglasses and my hair is pulled back unevenly in a black bandana. The bare branches of a tree can be seen to my left in the photo and the sun is behind me so parts of my hair are glowing. I look resigned but I am actually happy to be about to do yoga outside.

Normally, this would be cause for a scrambly brain of indecision – Should I do yard work? Bring inside work outside? Make plans for my garden? Take Khalee for an extra walk? What is the BEST use of this time?

This time, though, I bypassed all of those questions and just asked myself “What would be the most fun to do right now?”

And that’s how I found myself in the sunshine, doing yoga on my patio, laughing at the way my shadow makes me look like a fur ball or some sort of tendrilly sea creature.

a person's left hand (with a wedding and engagement ring and a watch on a woven band) rests on a blue patterned yoga mat outdoors.
Before doing my actual yoga practice, I did a few twists and I liked how my hand looked in contrast with my mat so I snapped a photo. Image description: A shot of my left hand, complete with wedding band, engagement ring, and Fitbit with a woven elastic strap, resting on a blue and teal yoga mat. My shadow, including the shadows of bits of my hair sticking out in a bizarre pattern, is covering most of the mat but there are some sunny bits at the top and the light wood of my patio is visible at the top of the image.

PS – For the record, Khalee and I took a long walk later in the day… and neither of us had to put on our mittens.

*Apparently, the May long weekend in Canada is not called ‘May 24th’ everywhere but that’s what we’ve always called it – no matter which date it falls on. If your brain hates that, imagine that I have said ‘Victoria Day’ instead.

fitness · season transitions · yoga

Christine and the nighttime patio yoga

I love doing yoga outside at any time but especially at night in the summer. I bring out some soft lights, set up my mat on the patio, and pop in one earphone so I can follow along with a Youtube practice. *

So, right now you are probably thinking ‘Christine, that sounds great but it’s not summer any more.’

And that’s true, it’s definitely fall and I usually stop doing nighttime yoga by now. Luckily, though, I had an errand to run and I realized that it was pretty warm night for September so patio yoga was totally feasible.

A dimly-lit photo of Christine outdoors at night. A string of star-shaped lights are visible over her shoulder.
You’ll be pleased to know that my smirk works just as well at night as it does in the daytime. Image description: a dimly-lit nighttime photo of my face. My hair is held back with a bandana, and I’m smirking. You can see a string of star-shaped patio lights over my shoulder and my headphones are visible where they hang around my neck.

And it was great.

Sure, there was a chill in the air but it kind of nice actually.

And the company was pretty swell, too.

A light-haired dog is standing on the grass at night, looking up at the camera. She is illuminated by a string of lights that can be seen on the left aide.
Khalee couldn’t let me be outside by myself at night without supervision. Image description: a nighttime photo of Khalee, a light-haired dog. She is standing on the grass, looking up toward the camera. Her tail is mid-wag. My string of round lights is dangling from my hand and can be seen on the left side of the photo, illuminating Khalee and the grass.

Now that I have turned evening patio yoga into a fall activity, and since I am the owner of very many sweaters and several pairs of non-slip socks, I’m wondering just how far into the season I can get away with practicing outdoors.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

A nighttime photo on my patio string of round, white battery-operated lights are arranged in the shape of a heart on my blue yoga mat. My feet are visible on the mat below the lights,
Cheesy? Yes. But when I placed the lights down they ended up in a vaguely heart-shaped form and I couldn’t resist tidying the shape a bit. Image description: A nighttime photo on my patio string of round, white battery-operated lights are arranged in the shape of a heart on my blue yoga mat. My feet are visible on the mat below the lights, my toenails are painted green (the colour is called ‘My gecko does tricks.’

*I don’t usually watch the practice, the bright screen would kind of ruin the mood but I do listen so I can stop my mind from galloping off into thoughts of what pose to do next.

fitness · habits · rest · season transitions · self care

Working Outside: An Internal Debate

I’m writing this while sitting on my patio and wondering if I want to take my laptop outside for the rest of the afternoon.

I mean, if you were sitting here, would you want to make yourself go work inside?

A view of a backyard patio, plants, lawn and trees
The view from my seat under my patio umbrella. Image description: a photo of one side of a backyard deck with a view of a red shed with white trim, a patio chair with a red cushion, a variety of potted plants, some grass and trees, and my dog, Khalee.

Yet, as someone with ADHD who does freelance work from home, I already have to put a lot of effort into reminding myself that there is a time for work and a time to relax/be at home. I generally try to limit where I work so I have environmental reminders to keep me on track.

So, if I start working in my relaxation space, am I going to blur that line I have worked hard to draw?

On the other hand, I have done lots of work outside in the past. I don’t really remember if it made it more challenging to keep that boundary or not.

And while I have enjoyed my deck in previous years, I hadn’t put as much effort into creating a restful backyard before. My new deck and an increase in my planning capacity (thanks to an increased dose of ADHD meds last fall) has helped me plan and create a much more enjoyable space this summer.

I don’t know if I should draw stronger boundaries around this restful space or if my environment would help me work with more ease. If I could work with more ease, maybe it would be easier to draw a line under my tasks for the day and move on to my hobbies and relaxation.

In the past, while writing or doing other office work outdoors, I have managed to create a good rhythm for my day – working in short sessions and then breaking for yoga, other exercises, drawing or reading. That’s probably a healthier way to work than trying to force myself to focus for long periods. There would be less sitting and more movement, which is always good for me.

But, maybe I could make my workday shorter if I told myself to stay inside for X amount of time and then go outside to exercise and/or relax?

Am I overthinking this? Almost definitely.

Does it have to be all one or all the other? Probably not.

I still think it is worth asking myself all of these questions though.

I am trying to be more conscious of the choices I am making and of the patterns I am following. I want those choices and patterns to contribute to my overall fitness, my health, my happiness, and my peace of mind.

I’ll probably try working outside in small amounts and see how it affects my sense of relaxation the rest of the time.

In the worst case scenario, it won’t work out and I’ll have to redraw my boundaries. I can always use more practice at that.

Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.
Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.

PS – Yes, I am aware of the irony of being outside while composing a post wondering about whether I should work outside but writing for this blog is in a grey area between work-work and recreation so really it’s kind of fitting that I am writing it on my phone while outside.

fitness

Get outside and play! It’s May!

Fitness Challenge Logo

It’s May. I spent Sunday swapping over my winter and summer clothes. I have lots of happy summer thoughts in my head. It was also Cheddar’s six year adoption anniversary.

Here’s puppy Cheddar:

Even the pandemic is looking up. See Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik’s round up. This week it’s pretty good news, “Fasten your seat belts! This ride is almost over. It’s time to imagine a post-COVID world.” See here.

And at my work, at the University of Guelph, it’s Be Well, Be Safe Week in recognition of National Mental Health Week and North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.

Part of that is the university’s kickoff of our May fitness challenge. It’s our Get Outside Fitness Challenge and I’ll be taking part.

Here’s more info about what we can and can’t do outside in Ontario during the Stay at Home orders.

Outdoor Activity during Ontario’s Stay At Home:
Under the provincial government mandate of Stay at Home orders, outdoor exercise or walking your pet is considered an approved activity. To ensure you are exercising safely and following provincial rules please follow these guidelines during this challenge:

– Only workout with those in your same household or alone
– If you are in a park where you may come into closer contact while walking, please wear a mask.
– If you bring a mat and find a spot on some grass to be outside, please ensure you are 3m away from anyone else on all sides.
– Don’t forget to bring your water bottle to stay hydrated
– Wash your hands when you get home and wipe down any equipment you brought with you.

Physical benefits of outdoor exercise: 

Exercise in nature has a more positive effect on blood pressure and mood than exercise in a gym
Being in nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels
Athletes who run or walk on nature trails have reported less fatigue after a 20-minute run than they did following a run on an indoor track.


Mental benefits:

Activities in nature resulted in reduced negative emotions (e.g., anger, fatigue and sadness) as compared to similar activities in a human-made environment
A daily walk in nature can be as effective in treating mild cases of depression as taking an antidepressant
Runners reported lower levels of stress and depression when exercising in nature than when exercising in an urban setting.”

The following pictures are what turn up when you search for outdoor exercise:

Here’s how to join:

“The weather is getting nicer so we want to encourage you to move outdoors for 30 minutes EVERY DAY from May 1st – 31st. What is your movement of choice? We want to see what you are doing to stay active. Take a pic and tag us @gryphons_fitness every time you do. For every picture we receive, you get an additional ballot added to a draw to win prizes. The more pictures, the more chance to win! Contest closes May 31st at midnight.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Step One: Download our GryphFit App to join the challenge

Apple Store here, Google Play here

Step Two: Join the challenge on the “Challenge” icon in the app

Step Three: Walk, run, jog, do yoga, dance, play with your pet… the list goes on.  It’s simple: GET OUTSIDE and move.  You choose how. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag us @gryphons_fitness to show us how you are spending your time outdoors. Contest runs May 1st – 31st.

Step Four: Be entered into a draw to win a Matrix Fitness prize pack worth $300! Winner will be announced on June 1st, 2021.”

fitness

Take It Outside

My 15 year old son has been taking a ‘Healthy Living’ course this past semester and I’ve been keeping him company as he worked on projects ranging from cyberbullying to dangerous drugs*. 

When we received notice that this week’s project would be his final one for the course, we were happy to discover that his teacher was keeping the increasingly nice weather in mind.

J’s project for this week is to take photos of himself doing outdoor activities and I have decided maximize my fun by joining in.

I won’t be sending my photos to his teacher, obviously, so I will be posting here instead.

The author,  a white middle-aged woman is standing on the grass in front of a wooden structure. She is wearing a flowered dress and her arms are outstretched.
For your amusement: This is an author activity that won’t be included this week. In this 2017 photo, I am at an outdoor Storytelling event. It looks like I might be exercising but that’s just my full-body story style. It’s actually more mental effort than physical effort.

Keep an eye out for my post of seven outdoor photos at the end of next week.

Maybe you would like to join me for this final project for the school year?

*There is also a physical activity component of the course but he didn’t really need my company on the elliptical machine or while doing his steps in the living room.