Tag Archives: Walking

How to Find Your Lost Motivation to Exercise

Last month I came down with a summer cold.

(As an aside, don’t you wish we could all look as healthy as stock photo models do when they’re acting sick? Most of the reason why I’m sharing this particular photo with you is because of how much it amuses me).

My illness was minor even for a cold, but as I was recovering I noticed that my motivation to exercise was not returning like it normally does after I get sick.

I’d stopped blowing my nose and my cough was quickly fading away. Yet I still didn’t have the urge to even do something as simple as take a walk around the block to get back into the swing of things.

If this is something that happens to you as well, keep these tips and tricks in mind the next time your fitness routine is interrupted or you really don’t want to do your usual workout today.

Commit to Five Minutes

I thought this idea was ridiculous the first time I heard it, but it does work. Promise yourself that you only need to move your body for five minutes. If you’re still feeling apathetic or unmotivated at the end of that time span, stop and go do something else with your time without any guilt.

It’s been my experience that this usually doesn’t happen, though. Five minutes is just enough time to begin to enjoy whatever activity you normally do during a workout. Most of the time when I make this bet with myself, I end up doing my full workout anyways. Getting started was by far the most challenging part of the whole routine.

Remember Why You Started Exercising

You might have wanted to grow stronger, gain energy, become more flexible, improve your health, or lose weight. On a more personal level, I love the warm, happy feeling I get from all of the endorphins my body releases after a long, brisk walk. That one factor alone is responsible for at least half of the walks I go on. It feels so wonderful.

Everyone’s reasons for exercising is different, of course, so I can’t possibly list all of them in today’s post. Hopefully the list above gave you a good starting spot if I didn’t mention your favourite ones.

Sometimes it’s an excellent idea to revisit your reasons for exercising and think about how at least attempting to get through today’s workout will help you reach those goals.

Try Something New

Occasionally I lose my interest in working out because I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. A few years ago, I included free dance videos on Youtube in my workout routine. They worked beautifully for about a year, and then my interests shifted to include more weightlifting in my schedule instead.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never try another dance video again. Dancing is something I’d like to return to one day, although I don’t have any plans to do so at the moment.

Yoga was another activity I tried earlier this year in an attempt to broaden my interests. It turned out to be something that I wasn’t as interested in as I originally thought, but I’m glad that I gave it a try and I am keeping it in mind for the future. I may very well find it better suited for my needs in a year or two.

Make a Smaller Goal

To be completely honest with you, my goal for the first two or three days after my cold faded away was to take walks. I didn’t worry about anything other than walking for about thirty minutes a day, and most of those sessions were broke into smaller segments.

Getting back into a lighter version of my usual routine was the key to returning to the way I normally live. I’m now back to lifting weights regularly, too, and I’m enjoying it as much as I normally do.

Track Your Progress

One of the biggest reasons why I love my smartwatch so much is that it keeps track of all kinds of exercise statistics for me. I get notifications when I reach specific goals and badges if I make enough of them throughout the week.

If you’re motivated by small rewards like these and don’t want to track your own statistics, definitely consider going digital.

With that being said, tracking can be done in many different ways. You could take notes about how many workouts you completed, miles you ran, or pounds you lifted in a Word/Pages document or with an old-fashioned pen and sheet of paper instead.

3 Reasons Why You Should Meditate Outdoors

I’ve slowly been trying to incorporate more meditation into my routine after the long break I took from it earlier this spring.

This spring has been a chilly, wet one so far here in Toronto. We’re only now beginning to have a few days in a row where it hasn’t rained and the temperature has been above 10 degrees Celsius (or 50 Fahrenheit for those of you who live in the United States).

Along with continuing to meditate in noisy places, one of my goals for this summer is to sit and meditate outside once the weather warms up a few more degrees and it’s no longer quite so uncomfortable to sit still on a cold bench on a cloudy day.

I’ve been meditating during long walks in the meantime. It’s actually the first technique I used when I began meditating years ago, and it’s still something I find soothing when I’m having trouble staying focused while sitting down.

There are three basic reasons why I love outdoor meditation so much, and today we’re going to explore them.

Reason #1: Natural Background Noises Aren’t as Distracting

When I’m meditating at home, I might hear thumping music from the apartment next to mine, a distant argument from the other side of the hall, the thud of something heavy being dropped on an uncarpeted floor, the ding of an elevator door, or any other number of other miscellaneous noises. The building I l live in is wonderful in many other ways, but preventing sound from travelling is not one of them.

Can I filter these things out when necessary? Absolutely, but I find the rustle of leaves or a bird singing to be much less distracting than the sound of other humans living their lives. If I’m already struggling to focus on clearing my mind of all thoughts, it’s nice to remove that extra layer of stuff that is competing for my attention.

I don’t know about you, but I also find it easier to tune out the sounds of nature in general. My brain might register that birds are tweeting, but I don’t consciously think about them the same way I would if I heard a conversation happening in the background that I could almost – but not quite – make out.

Reason #2: Nature Is Soothing

Few things lift my mood faster than going somewhere where there aren’t any buildings, roads, shops, or billboards to be seen. I love taking a brisk walk on a shady path or watching squirrels run around looking for food.

There is something incredibly relaxing about being surrounded by so many different species of plants even if they have been planted, manicured, or kept up by humans in some way. Visiting a large national park where everything there looks more or less the same as it did a thousand years ago is exciting, but I also find joy in visiting parks that have sidewalks, benches, and large fields of recently-mowed grass.

This is one of the many reasons why I love trees. Other than trimming off the occasional dead branch, there aren’t a lot of things you can do to a tree to make it less wild. A mature oak is going to look roughly the same no matter where it’s growing or what has happened around it. There is something beautiful and soothing about that.

(I’ve joked about being a friend of the Ents in the past. Maybe there is a kernel of truth to that in the sense that i have a strong affinity for trees.)

Reason #3: It’s a Smart Idea to Practice Meditating Under Many Different Circumstances

The biggest reason why I began occasionally meditating in noisy places last winter is that I wanted to expand the number of places where I could meditate.

You will not always be able to meditate in a cool, clean, quiet room that is free from every distraction.

While no one in my family is currently ill, I want to be able to meditate in a hospital waiting room if necessary while we wait to hear word from the doctor.  I also want to be able to meditate in cramped airplane seats, hard park benches on warm summer days, dusty rooms, and anywhere else I could possibly need to slow down my thoughts and live in the moment.

Meditation isn’t something that’s only supposed to work when you’re having a good day. The benefits of it extend to every part of the human experience if you do it regularly.

Hopefully I won’t have to meditate when I’m feeling physical or emotional discomfort anytime soon, but I’d like to be well-accustomed to breathing through all kinds of different circumstances when that does happen again in the future. Think of it like practicing a speech over and over again before you present it to your audience. You’ll probably still feel nervous when the big day comes, but at least you’ll know the material inside and out.

If you haven’t tried outdoor meditation yet, I hope this post has encouraged you to give it a try. It is a wonderful addition to all of the other forms of meditation out there. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’ve only just begun to explore its possibilities!

 

Exercise Makes Me So Hungry

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I don’t mind writing a long post when the topic requires it, but I also think there’s something to be said for conserving your words if fewer will do just as well.

My exercise routine was interrupted a few times over the winter due to an injury and a couple of mild illnesses. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, though, I’ve noticed that I’m much hungrier than normal these past few weeks.

Drinking extra almond milk, water, and tea has helped this somewhat. Sometimes thirst can masquerade as hunger, especially now that we’re in a time of year when the temperatures are slowly beginning to rise above freezing again. I know have to remind myself to drink more fluids once it gets warmer outside until I’m back into that habit again. It’s an easy thing to forget when the weather is cold and you’re not losing a lot of extra fluids through perspiration every day.

The portions of food that filled me up when I temporarily needed to stop lifting weights and taking long walks aren’t enough for me now. Even the amount of oatmeal I eat for breakfast has needed to increase to keep me full until lunch. (That makes me giggle for some reason. I’ve never thought of oatmeal as something that wasn’t completely filling, but now that I’m eating a bigger bowl of it I’m feeling full after breakfast once again).

I didn’t have a huge appetite before I started exercising regularly a few years ago. In fact, I’ve always been known for having eyes that are bigger than my stomach. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve ordered a meal at a restaurant or made a plate of food that I soon realized I couldn’t possibly finish in one setting!

To be honest, I’d half-forgotten how hungry I felt when I first began a regular exercise routine. It was a little surprising to start needing more food again until I remembered that this has happened before.

I’ve started adding food like:

  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • And occasionally homemade blueberry muffins

as snacks or in addition to my regular meals.

It’s going to take some time to get used to my bigger appetite again, though. It amazes me to see how quickly I can polish off a dinner plate full of sliced fruit and vegetables as an afternoon snack and still be ready for supper a few hours later.

Does this mean that I’ll be able to eat an entire portion of restaurant food the next time I go out to dinner? Anything is possible, although I’m still going to be prepared to ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers unless I’m very hungry that day. Haha!

If you’re around on Twitter today, come over and tell me about your experiences with exercise and suddenly wanting to eat all of the food in the entire world. 😉 I’d also be curious to know what other changes in your life you’ve noticed after exercising more frequently or more intensely.

What Will Exercise Routines Be Like in a Hundred Years?

A new fitness fad comes along every decade or so. There were gentle stretching exercises for ladies in the 1910s, twist dances in the 1950s, aerobics videos in the 1980s, and Zumba classes in the 2010s. (If you haven’t seen it already, this video shows 100 years of fitness in 100 seconds).

A hundred years ago, exercise was built into everyone’s day. The vast majority of people didn’t own cars or many other modern conveniences back then. They walked or rode a horse into town, chopped wood, scrubbed their clothing by hand, planted, weeded, and then harvested their crops, preserved food, repaired their wagons and tools, carried buckets of water to the plants and animals under their care, and did many other physically demanding chores from morning until evening.

The First Half of My Prediction

As fossil fuels become far more rare and expensive, humans will start adding some of these activities back into their daily lives in order to save money. Walking a couple of miles to a nearby destination only costs as much extra food as it will take to fill your stomach once you need to eat again. While this has already been a common thing here in Toronto for many years, I see it becoming much more socially acceptable to walk to all kinds of places in suburban and rural communities, too, in the coming years.

Eventually the price of driving to all of those locations is going to be too high to do anything else on a regular basis. As grocery store costs rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if it also became more common for people who own a patch of unused land to start growing and preserving some of their own food again as well.

Exercise will no longer be about purposefully lifting weights or setting aside half an hour a day to break a sweat. People will naturally need to do these things during their daily routine in order to save money or maybe even to survive in general. This is going to change everything from what folks do for fun to how far away from their jobs or schools they’ll be willing to live.

I wouldn’t be surprised if tele-commuting became almost universally available for students and workers alike, especially for those who aren’t able to live closer to town for any number of reasons. Why physically go into school or the office if you can get all of the same information online while saving valuable money and time on the commute?

The Second Half of My Prediction

The other thing I see happening with exercise in the future is it becoming much more technologically-aware. We have just entered the age of digital fitness trackers, and I only see them becoming more important in the future for many different reasons.

Imagine students who are enrolled in online schools getting credit for gym class while they’re digging potatoes out of the garden or wiping off the solar panels next to their house. Some kids would respond much better to this than they would to playing the kinds of team sports that are generally shown as examples of staying active. I know that I would have been much more interested in gym class had I been shown a wider range of ways to stay fit and then been allowed to pick a few that interested me the most. There’s nothing wrong with liking football or basketball, but there are so many other forms of exercise out there!

Think about how much information your family doctor could get about your health if he or she was able to see an average of how many minutes of exercise you’ve gotten per day for the last year as well. Maybe he or she could also see your blood sugar levels, blood pressure numbers, and resting and active heart rates, too. I’ve known people whose blood pressure rises dramatically whenever they have it checked at the doctor’s office because they get so anxious around people in the medical profession. These sorts of changes to the way health data is collected could give doctors a much more accurate picture of how their patients are really doing.

Insurance companies could give discounts to people who agreed to share their activity levels or who showed a steady increase in the number of minutes of exercise they did every week as well. While I would never agree with forcing people to share this kind of information in order to qualify for insurance coverage, it could be a nice incentive for folks who want to save a little cash and begin some healthier habits at the same time.

Will some of these predictions come true far sooner than 2117? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, to be honest. It will be interesting to see how technology and exercise continue to develop over the next few decades. Only time will tell if I’m right about some, all, or none of the societal changes I think are on their way.

When Exercise Is a Bad Idea

injured-toy-bear

One of the hardest things for me to deal with when it comes to my exercise routine is to step away from it when I’m sick or injured.

Why is that, you ask?

Well, I don’t want to lose the gains in muscle mass or endurance that I’ve worked so hard for. Logically speaking, I know that a few days or even a week or two off isn’t going to make that much of a difference for anyone’s fitness.

It still isn’t fun to be stuck on the sidelines, though.

What Workouts Do

Sitting still all day makes me feel jumpy. I’m not used to all of those hours of sticking to the same few positions. Normally I use stuff like weightlifting or dance videos on Youtube to burn off that extra energy, but there are times when that simply isn’t possible.

All of this quiet gives my thoughts too many chances to get jumbled up as well, and that’s a problem.

My favourite thing about exercise is how effective it is at clearing my head. Not only does it brush away worries, it gives both your mind and your body a chance to set a goal and achieve it in a short amount of time.

Whether the goal was to lift a specific amount of weight or take a brisk walk for half an hour, that sense of accomplishment is delicious. There aren’t many other areas in life where this can happen so quickly.

Rest Is Needed

With that being said, rest is an extremely important part of the healing process. How much rest time is needed depends on what kind of problem you’re having, of course.

When I had a lung infection a few years ago, I slept a full eight hours each night and still needed long naps in the afternoon in order to have enough energy to stay awake in the morning and evening.

(Note to self: don’t get that sick again anytime soon!)

Even the most gentle exercise was out of the question for me then until the antibiotics started working and I stopped coughing so much. Not every injury or illness is like this, of course, which brings me to the meat of this post.

The Walking Solution

Walking is by far my favourite way to stay at least minimally active when I’m healing as long as it’s not anything as draining as that lung infection. What I like most about walking is that it’s low-impact, doesn’t require any special equipment, and can be customized to what your body can actually handle as its healing.

A quiet stroll counts even if it doesn’t make you break a sweat or raise your heart rate much at all. Staying or getting back into the swing of things is a completely acceptable and worthwhile goal. There will be plenty of time later on to actually try something challenging again.

Even a leisurely walk helps me to clear my mind. Toronto is a such a large city that there’s almost always someone or something interesting to see as you stroll. Figuring out funny or interesting backstories for them is a wonderful distraction along with the gentle exercise.

I’ve also found that symptoms ranging from mild pain to nasal congestion become a little less bothersome after a walk. While I don’t know if this is psychosomatic or if there’s something about getting up and moving around that actually helps people feel better, it’s nice to have the edge taken off of certain symptoms for a while.

I hope that this idea works for you, too, the next time you’re too unwell to finish your normal workout.