Returning to Exercise

Sometimes though exercise just isn’t possible due to the other commitments I have. 

Life takes me away from exercise from time to time, whether it’s illness, playing with my son, taking my dog for a walk, vacation, getting together with friends or any of a bunch of other things. It happens and I’m at peace with it. Sort of. I’m trying to accept that I can schedule my life all I want but events will happen to disrupt my plans.  

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By giving myself a pass and being okay with not exercising for whatever period of time I don’t, I find it much easier to get back into exercise when I’m ready physically and mentally. Sometimes I have to start at the beginning with the 1, 2, and 5 pound weights but even then, I find it easier to progress and get stronger than when I first started exercising.

I used to make myself feel guilty about all the things I should be doing and wasn’t –  exercising, finishing assignments early, writing, cleaning. Feeling guilty about not doing those things sucked all my willpower to do those things. I would feel so bad about myself and feel like such a failure that I still wouldn’t start them. So I decided to stop making myself feel guilty about something I hadn’t done and start being kind to myself. I started to recognize that I could only do so much in a day and could only say yes to so many things before I burnt out so now I give myself a pass and decide that tomorrow will be a day that exercising may happen. 

I’m slowly getting back into regular exercising. I run with my dog when I can, I go to the gym, I walk. Illness and work pressures have made this a stop start process so I’m not really into a routine yet. That’s okay because I’m doing what I can when I can and sometimes that’s amazing.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about being stuck and as a result, not exercising. I’m coming out of that total paralysis that sucked all the joy out of exercise for me. Fingers crossed!

Camaraderie in Axe Throwing

Shared interests create commonality and friendships, even with people who are disparate. 

I forgot that. I saw it when I was a kid watching my parents in their dart league. Through a shared activity, they could chat with other people that they normally might not talk to or have much to talk about with. 

A friend invited me to axe throwing night at his club, Batl: Backyard Axe Throwing League. The scoring is simple and for a more complete description than I could give, check out the FAQ page. At this club, people face off one another in a round robin style tournament each night for a season (eight weeks).

The night was filled with axes bouncing off targets, people throwing one or two handed, people showing me their axes, people sitting at tables and watching others throw axes, and people watching their own scores in comparison to others. It’s a loud but not too loud event where things are happening and everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves. 

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Of course, darts is nothing like axe throwing. One person (who I later learned works at the axe throwing club) visibly winced when I asked about scoring and commented that it was nothing like darts (don’t make this mistake!). Fair play, the scoring is nothing like darts but the camaraderie, the chatter, the ambiance, all of that energy and warm human interaction buzzing around me, was. 

People love to lament nowadays that social media has led us down a path of no human interaction where we lack empathy and understanding of each other. I saw no evidence of that when I watched people throw axes. And guess what everyone was doing every time they threw an axe – exercising and having fun at the same time! It is possible. 

**I didn’t participate in throwing axes only because my shoulders dislocate (subluxate? Physicians, discuss!) when they are out to the side so throwing at or above shoulder height is out of the question, especially large, sharp objects. 

Struggling

I haven’t been exercising at all lately (How off brand! Twirls hair around finger, stomps foot, walks off) and it’s affecting me. I’m quick to lose my temper, all the time, and bubbling with thwarted desires. My mental paralysis is swallowing my home and work life, and yet I’m finding it so hard to get up off my chair, go downstairs at home or go to my gym at work (in my workplace!) and lift those weights or run on the treadmill. Last year, I could get up every morning at 4:30am and go for a run. Now, I only get as close as picturing myself running (is that a start?). 

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Exercise isn’t hard really. All I have to do is make the choice and do it. I can’t really explain why I don’t. I am stuck in many aspects of my life and wonder if this is some weird physical manifestation of that psychological status. It might be. It doesn’t make a difference in the end because I am standing still, not exercising, letting my emotions control me. 

This is where I am right now. Someone once told me to be kind of myself when I was at a low point and this is a semi-philosophy that I have embraced fully. For now, this is where I am – not exercising, focused on writing, and undergoing a lot of self reflection, examining past decisions and the regrets they have led me to. 

The internet appears to be a place where I’m supposed to talk about how everything is great and positive and that I have learned lessons and I’m becoming a better person. I have no idea if any of that is happening right now but I do know that I am stuck. I will not be stuck forever so I will not beat myself up about it or badger myself. Feel this moment and then see what happens. 

To all those who might be stuck out there, that’s okay. Just don’t stay too long (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). To others, let me know what action, plan, thought, motivation, whatever, unstuck you. When Words Collide 2019 is coming up so maybe I will pull myself out of this quagmire at that wondrous celebration of all things writing and reading.

 

Time of Day

My favourite time of the day to exercise is early morning. I am more successful at exercising in the morning in the summertime since it is light. We have porcupines and coyotes in our neighbourhoods and parks so walking or running in the morning in the winter is a bit more hazardous. The quiet air lets me hear the birds chirping and the leaves whispering in the wind.

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However,  when I’m working it’s not always feasible for me to take a long walk in the morning so the other time I like to exercise is when I can’t do anything else. I build it into my day so I can’t avoid exercising. For example, if I cycle to work, the only way I can get home is to cycle home. Or if I eat my lunch at my desk, the only lunch break I will get is if I go to the gym.

Both of these strategies help me to stick to my exercise routine, making it something I just do, like getting dressed, rather than something I have to choose to do. The less I have to choose to do, the more likely I am to do something.

What strategies have you found to keep to a new routine?

 

Motivation

Mental health is one of the main motivators for me to work out. I can tell when I haven’t worked out in a while. I start to get frustrated and then angry with every little thing such as dropping a fork. If I let it continue, I will see every decision I’ve made in a negative light and convince myself that my life is horrible when it is actually great.

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On the other hand, if I work out, little things like spilled liquids are not a big deal and I can take a breath and let it go. I’m not as hard on myself for perceived failures and actually congratulate myself for my achievements.

I also work out to cut my chances of getting cancer or heart disease. My family history is littered with cancer, including colon and brain cancer so I’ve seen cancer’s progress. Those images are indelibly imprinted on my brain. If I can reduce my chances of developing cancer, then I will do so. My family history is also full of heart disease and I don’t relish surgery.

Now, I have another motivator for working out – my child. I have to set the example for everything from keeping a house clean (the poor kid has no chance) to a healthy lifestyle. If I can instill in my kid now the importance of physical activity, I can reduce my kid’s chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other illnesses.

What is your motivator?

 

Story Making While on the Move

Story making while on the move

Physical activity and writing intersect in surprising ways. Steve Jobs was renowned for taking a walk to problem solve and Brandon Sanderson has talked about plotting out his novels while at the gym. I started actively using my exercise periods as problem solving sessions this year and I have been able to come up with some great twists as a result. I can sit there all day and not see a way to fix my story problem but if I’m on the move, I can see the solution or come up with a new story direction or plot out the next scene.

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Don’t believe me? Check out this article.

I find it interesting that the studies have shown meandering walks are the best for creativity while cycling is worse. However, in my own personal physical activities, I come up with my ideas when I’m walking and less so when I’m running so my own experience supports these findings.

For example, I figured out the career for the main character of my current work in progress, Desert’s Daughter, while on a walk. That career will be as a influencer but in a place without computers.

When you’re stuck on a problem, go for a walk!

Having a Dog

Our dog is a Border Collie Newfoundland cross but she is really more Border Collie. Her energy some days appears endless. After running five kilometres in the morning and then another five kilometres in the evening, she still wants to chase stones, play with her toys or have training.

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So there is no escaping at least a daily walk with her but more likely two or three walks with her, rain, sun, snow, minus 20 or plus 30. To do less is to let her down but also to invite chaos in our house as she tries to find something to occupy herself.

My natural state of being is inert so her energy grabs at me and pushes me out of the door. I can’t resist her open mouth smile and soft brown eyes. She humbles me though because I know that if I didn’t take her out, she would still love and forgive me, even if I didn’t deserve it.

I would now always live with a dog because on days I absolutely do not want to leave the house for a walk, I have to and I always feel better afterwards. She keeps me committed to my own wellbeing, as well as hers. And walking and chatting with your family while the sun begins its descent in the evening reminds me why I go to work every day and why I love writing.