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

Making Space: Day 25

I hope that you have space and ease and rest in your day no matter how busy it is.

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it.

Happy Holidays to anyone celebrating something else.

And a restful Saturday to everyone else.

No matter what today means to you, it is just one day. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t require you to work yourself into a frazzle.

I wish you some relaxation and I wish you firm boundaries.

Our videos for today can help with both of those, I hope.

Here are some relaxing stretches for today;

Here are some relaxing stretches from the Fitness Blender YouTube channel. Still image is a person in a dark blue shirt standing with their back to the camera. Their shirt has white lettering that reads ‘workout complete’ and they have their left arm extended overhead and they are leaning to the right.

And a meditation for boundaries:

A meditation video from Ashley Krout’s YouTube channel. Still image is of a path extending into a wooded area with green grass visible on both sides of the path.

As always, I hope you can be kind to yourself about how your day unfolds, taking good care of yourself in whatever way is feasible.

And I celebrate your efforts to find space for yourself today and always; ⭐️

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

Making Space: Day 23

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it’s going to be tricky to find a little space during these next three days.

And for those of us who don’t, you will still be facing similar challenges as you try to maintain space for yourself amidst the commitments, activities, and obligations of a full life.

The pressures might be different in each case but the results are the same – very little room to take good care of yourself.

I hope that you can figure out a way to make a little space today. Maybe with these videos, maybe with something else.

I know that I often feel like I don’t have five minutes to spare but later in the day I will realize how often I checked my phone or scrolled through social media posts.

Hanging out on social media isn’t a bad thing, as long as it feels like a real break and you feel like you are connecting with the people whose posts you see. But, I often find that when I feel ‘too busy’ to do a short exercise video or ‘too agitated’ to meditation, I’ll hop on social media to get a break and it won’t feel good. It will add to my feeling of busy-ness, it will amplify my agitation.

In those cases, social media feels like an easy way to take a moment for myself but it’s not really taking a break, it’s just kind of checking out. It would be better for me to take just a minute and breathe deeply or to do a few neck stretches and then make a decision about how to proceed through the rest of my list, rather than numbly scrolling through Facebook and losing track of time.

Now, I am speaking from my own experience, I am not criticizing you and I am not condemning social media. Social media is a great tool in many ways. And you know yourself best, you can tell if you are taking a break or just checking out. And I hope you can do things in the way that serves you best.

If you have decided that movement or meditation would be good for you right now, here are your videos for today.

Remember, you can do just part of them if that makes sense for you. Please be kind to yourself about this and about everything else. (Your gold star is below the videos.)

I really enjoyed this back stretch routine. It’s straightforward and clear and made my back feel quite relaxed.

Here’s a lower back stretch video from physiotherapist Michelle Kenway’s YouTube channel. The still image shows the instructor in exercise clothes lying on a purple yoga mat. The camera angle shows the top of her head and her raised knees and her left arm extended out to the side. The words ‘Back Stretch Routine’ are visible on the upper right.

And here’s our meditation. This one felt really short to me today, I hope that’s a good sign for my subconscious state of mind.

A 5 minute meditation from the Goodful YouTube channel. The still image is a cartoon drawing of a person with long hair, wearing a link shirt and black shorts sitting crossed legged in a classic meditation posture. In the background are drawings of leaves, branches and shapes in shades of blue and white. The background colour is light green.

Whether you try these videos, do your own making space thing, or just take a view deep breaths while you drive, you type, or you cook, I hope you have a little room for yourself today.

Here’s your gold star for your efforts: ⭐️

fitness · health · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · stretching

Making Space: Day 20

I’m a bit under the weather today so I need to make as much space as I can for rest.

I’ve pared my to-do list down to the absolute necessities and I have selected these very short but still useful videos.

And I am keeping this post short, too.

Here is your star for your efforts today: ⭐️

May you have ease.

A morning stretch video from Megan Livingstone’s YouTube channel. Still image shows a person in a tank top and leggings stretching on a bed in a room lit with natural light.

A very quick meditation today, just a short wish for you to bless yourself with.

A less-than-2-minute LovingKindness Meditation from an interview with Sylvia Boorstein from the On Being YouTube channel. Still image shows the dark green outline of a triangle against a lighter green background. Text beneath the triangle reads ‘May I feel strong.‘
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.

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?

fitness · habits · holidays · meditation · motivation · self care

Making Space: Day 11

Saturdays tend to be especially hectic this time of year so that’s all the more reason to carve out a little space for yourself when you can.

And since it can be so easy to put ourselves last when things are busy, I want to offer this reminder: You matter. Your peace of mind matters. Your comfort matters. And you have the right to feel good. You deserve space in your own life.

And here’s a gold star to celebrate your efforts to make/find that space however you can, in the way that suits you best. ⭐️

Here’s Doctor Jo (yes, again! I really love her videos) with some relaxing stretches. If you do yoga you will be familiar with them but I really like how she frames and explains them in this video. Also, her dog Remy is in this one with her.

A Relaxing Stretches video from the Ask Doctor Jo YouTube channel. Still image shows Doctor Do lying on her back, pulling her left knee toward her chest.

And this beginner’s meditation was really lovely – simple instructions and encouragement. No dogs though.

A reassuring and friendly meditation for beginners from the Green Mountain at Fox Run YouTube channel. The still image is of a rocky surface with some rocks in sunshine and some in shadow. White text reading “5-minute meditations Simple Guided Meditation for Beginners Green Mountain at Fox Run Fitwoman.com” is in the foreground.

Enjoy!

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

Making Space Day 1: Let’s Start With Our Shoulders

Since my post yesterday was inviting you to make some space for yourself this month, I’ve decided to help you out with that by offering a short movement video and short meditation video each afternoon in December.

I figure that if you don’t have to search for and choose a video, it might make it easier to fit it into your day. And if you subscribe to the blog, it will even show up in your email!

You don’t *have* to do these every day, of course, (I’m bossy but I’m not actually the boss of you) but I’ll bet it will feel pretty good if you do.

Please adjust to your own schedule and abilities, of course, I don’t want anyone to get hurt!

First up, since I seem to hoard my tension in my shoulders and I assume other people do, too, here’s Doctor Jo with some shoulder stretches.

This video from the Ask Doctor Jo YouTube channel shows Doctor Jo doing shoulder stretches while wearing a blue shirt with a superhero dog on it.

And as for meditation, let’s give this one a whirl…ahem, let’s give this one a sit.

Please remember that you don’t have to automatically be able to sit quietly with your breath, that’s a skill that comes with practice. And that practice involves trying to meditate, noticing that your attention has wandered, and then returning to the focus on your breath. Returning over and over is PART of the initial process, it’s not a failure or a mistake.

A video from the My Life YouTube channel that offers a visual of gentle water with a guided meditation.

Feel free to check in to let me know that you did one of these videos, or any other movement or mindfulness practice, and I’ll respond with a gold star for your efforts.

And whether you do these videos or not, please be kind to yourself today. 🌟

ADHD · fitness · stretching · yoga

Christine is putting her best foot..upward?

I’ve been working on relieving the pain around my heel in one way or another since May.

I’ve been doing all manner of stretches for my calves and the rest of my legs and I have been rolling a ball under my foot to try to get the muscles there to loosen up.

It’s all been helping a bit and I can definitely feel the progress but it has been slow, slow, slow.

A GIF of tortoise moving slowly across a tile floor.
Has my progress been faster than this? Probably. But this matches my perception of my speed. Image description: A GIF of a tortoise moving VERY slowly across a tile floor. Greenery and the legs of a patio table can be seen in the background.

And it doesn’t help that my brain keeps telling me that the slow progress is because I am not working hard enough at my stretches. That may or may not be true (it’s hard to tell) but my brain doesn’t have to be a jerk about it.

In my first post about this, I mentioned getting on my own nerves by having to learn the same lesson over and over again and I am finding myself at that same annoying spot of relearning something I already know.

So, I have been been pretty consistent with my stretches and with rolling the ball under my foot. I was trusting in the process even as I was watching the clock. (Gold star for me – )

But in my frustration with my slow progress, I forgot that there are many different exercises that will accomplish the same thing. So, since my progress was slow, it might be time to think about the problem in a different way.*

Since the ball rolling didn’t seem to be loosening my feet very much and I couldn’t stand to press any harder, maybe I needed to stretch my feet just as much as I needed to stretch my calves.

So, I did a quick search and found this marvelous video from Yoga with Cassandra. Not only are the stretches good but the video is short – a definite bonus in my books.

A YouTube video from Yoga with Cassandra. The still image shows a slender white woman with her hair in a braid, she is doing a version of downward dog while perched on a grey yoga mat on a wooden floor.

I’ve done the stretches in this video every day for a week now and the difference in my heels is astounding.

I think that the ball rolling was even less effective (for me) than I had realized and these stretches mean that I am finally addressing the whole issue instead of just a part of it.

I am finally seeing measurable progress and I am so relieved.

PS – I’m really tempted to make a list of ‘Lessons I’ve Already Learned’ so I can give them a quick read every so often to see if any of them apply to any current circumstances.

*It’s funny that divergent thinking is one of the creative strengths of the ADHD brain…but I forgot to use that tool for this issue!

fitness · injury · stretching

Heel Pain Update: Clock Watching

Remember when I mentioned that I was having trouble with my calves that was causing pain in my heels?

Or, to put it another way, remember when I was learning the same lesson all over again?

Well, I have (mostly) learned my lesson (for now) about changing anything hat make me dread exercising and I have been working on a variety of stretches to help my calves and, hence, my heels.

But, it turns out that the best (i.e. most helpful) thing is to hold a calf stretch for two minutes on each side a couple of times a day.

GIF description: two polar bears are in a small dip in the snow. One starts to climb out and pauses to stretch its back legs.
This is not exactly the stretch I do. Mine is a sort of lunge as this is an upward bear. Also, I just have two legs and I am not quite as furry. GIF description: two polar bears are in a small dip in the snow. One starts to climb out and pauses to stretch its back legs.

I can feel the difference it makes AND it is way better than trying to remember to do multiple exercises multiple times every day.

BUT

(You knew this was coming, didn’t you?)

I hate it.

And it hurts.

A lot.

But, I don’t hate it so much that I won’t do it and it doesn’t hurt so much that I can’t do it but it is so unpleasant that I can’t even distract myself with reading or watching videos.

I just end up watching the timer click along and wishing I could time travel to a not-too-distant future where my stretches were already done.

Meanwhile, though, I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. After all, it has all the hallmarks of something that my brain would shuffle out of my daily schedule – it’s dull, it’s uncomfortable, and the results are definitely not instant.

Yet, I have been pretty consistent. I haven’t missed any days and most days I have done the stretch twice. (Yes, I have also done other stretches too but I haven’t been quite as consistent with those.)

Image description: a GIF of a gold star being drawn in neon. White text reads ‘You get a gold star!’​
I’m giving myself a gold star for my efforts on this. 😉 You can share this one – your efforts count, too, of course. Image description: a GIF of the outline of a gold star being drawn in neon. White text reads ‘And you get a gold star!’

I’m not sure what has made me able to stick with this particular hated exercises but I guess the fact that I can feel a difference – even if it is not instant – keeps me returning to the stretch.

Now, if I could only get to the point where things have improved enough to reduce the pain while I stretch.

At least that way I could concentrate to read or watch a favourite show while doing the exercise.

I’m really bored with watching the timer show – I already know the ending and the plot just drags along.

advice · fitness · flexibility · injury · stretching

Christine Learns The Same Lesson…Again.

I was at my chiropractor last week about a problem I’m having with my heels.

I already had a working theory that my sore heels were a result of overly tight calves (I was half right) so I had been doing all kinds of different calf stretches to try and find some relief.

One of the most useful sets of stretches I found was in this short yoga video.

Her exercises helped my calves…and my heels, at least temporarily, but there was one problem.

I really hate that ‘front fold with your fingers tucked under your toes’ stretch.

I mean, I HATE IT.

I know, I know! Why don’t I tell you how I really feel.

Let’s see if this helps clarify things:

Image description: A GIF of Sophia Petrillo, an elderly character from the show Golden Girls, raises ​and lowers her hand as she vehemently says ‘I hate that!’
Image description: A GIF of Sophia Petrillo, an elderly character from the show Golden Girls, raises and lowers her hand as she vehemently says ‘I hate that!’

I forced myself to do it though because the rest of the video was so helpful (I was wary of the bouncing but I didn’t hate it) but I found myself dreading it and putting it off, and even the promised relief for my heels didn’t help.

So, anyway, I’m mentioning all of this to Ken, my chiropractor (and my cousin!) and he, clever soul that he is, sensibly said ‘You won’t stick with a stretch you hate, do something else instead.’

Glerg.

Of course!

How many times do I have to learn this lesson?

How often will I have to be reminded that the best exercise is the one I’ll do?

Why can’t I remember that hating an exercise can be a good reason not to do it?

Now, I get that sometimes there are exercises that must be done in order to heal specific things and how much you hate it may not be a factor in that case.

But, for me, it keeps happening for exercises that can easily be switched out for something else.

I need to start letting ‘I hate it!’ be a signal to find an equivalent exercises that I like instead of a signal to dig in my heels and (try to) force myself to keep doing something that feels awful.

(Besides, digging in my heels is definitely not going to help right now. 😉 )

Do you have exercise lessons that you have to learn again and again?

Please tell me that I’m not the only one!