As most of you know, I recently started an exercise challenge to get me back into the spirit of moving. Life is busy and there are too many demands and as is often the case something is sacrificed and in my case that was exercise. To be honest it wasn’t much of a sacrifice because I don’t really like exercise. As I told my facebook friends when I launched my challenge I would rather unroll then reroll every roll of toilet paper I have in my house (and I buy in bulk) than head to a gym because gyms simply aren’t my thing! But I know the benefits of regular exercise are important, if not essential to good health, and so my challenge was born.
At the start I had no idea what my challenge would bring apart from a lot more physical activity but I have to say it has gifted me much more than I imagined. I have been surprised by what I am learning about myself and my neighbourhood and because of that I thought it would be fun to share some of this new found knowledge with you and hopefully inspire you all, just a little, to join me on this crazy challenge. So here’s what I’ve learned since getting back into exercise.
I knew that there was going to be pain because I was asking muscles who had been on a permanent vacation to get off the indoor sunlounge and start doing what they were meant to do and, of course, they didn’t like it. My hips, knees and ankles were grumpy for days but slowly their incessant screaming like that of a new born exposed to the outside world has become a repetitive toddlers whine which, like a seasoned mother, I have learnt to ignore only acknowledging when I sense imminent danger may be approaching from either lack of feeding, watering or in this case stretching. To help silence my whining legs further I’ve discovered that Magnesium baths are sensational and persistent stretching helps. Stay tuned for some more on both of these in the coming weeks.
Fitness is Sneaky!
As most of you know I am on my feet for the majority of my working day. I take several thousand steps a day and I am fairly strong, so I thought, with reason, that my fitness would be okay, not great, but okay. Well imagine my surprise to discover that no, no it’s not. Fitness is a sneaky bugger! It doesn’t disappear like a noisy guest who has eaten all your food, drunk all your wine and overstayed their welcome but in fact it slowly evaporates like the headache you have from that noisy guest (and some of that wine) – hahahaha. I didn’t wake up one morning going “wow, I’m unfit” instead I didn’t even notice that it was leaving. Like your flexibility, you realise one day that what you could do a month or a year ago you now can’t do. But on the flip side fitness is forgiving. It doesn’t hold a grudge that you’ve paid no attention to it for months or that you’ve been having a relationship with your couch rather than it. Once you start moving again it improves quickly which is very satisfying indeed!
I started this challenge wearing my trusty blue runners which I had purchased several years ago and loved to wear because their colour made me happy. I mean, who doesn’t love blue!! Unfortunately their lack of support, due to the fact they are old and very worn in, wasn’t having the same effect on my ankles, knees and shins and so a new pair were hurriedly purchased before the trainer called me off the field and retired me early from the game! Proper support of your feet when you are walking/running is really important. Poor mechanics in the foot can lead to plantafascitis, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain, tendinitis and more so make sure you have good shoes when you are taking on any exercise. And don’t worry, my blue shoes have transitioned to my gardening shoes and their blue still makes me happy.
You Have to Prioritise Exercise!
Going from basically zero exercise to nearly 4 hours in a week and already feeling like I had too much to do in my day gave me a minor sense of panic as I had no idea how I was going to get this done. There were several days in that first week when I could have easily climbed into my lounge chair of denial and given exercise the flick but my sense of accountability to my facebook buddies made me put down the remote and schedule time to get out there and get my exercise quota done. So to try and make it easier I decided to schedule the time for exercise in my diary and surprise surprise that seemed to work. I broke the total down into a daily amount and added it to my diary then I knew what I needed to do each day and it just became a part of my day. I wasn’t in love with it but I was achieving my goal and by being in my diary it made me look super busy and very efficious!!!! Very CEO – hahaha
There is Cool Stuff in my Neighbourhood!
Having not been out for a stroll for a while I was surprised to see how much my neighbourhood had changed. Groovy extensions had been completed, gardens had matured, funky wall art had been painted and cool sculptures had been planted about the streets and parks. There are new coffee spots to try and boutiques to explore. It’s been great getting reacquainted with my neighbourhood.
Sunshine and Fresh Air Feels Good!
Well this isn’t new. I’ve always loved being outside. I moved to Adelaide from Sydney because I love the weather here. It’s just magical. But what I forgot is that it’s magical in Winter too! OK, so it’s not as hot, actually it can be ruddy cold, but the sun and blue sky are still around on those cooler days and even when the sky is heavy with clouds and they decide to share their cargo, walking in the rain is fun! Trying to run in the rain isn’t as much fun but dashing from tree to tree to find cover with my daughter brought lots of laughs and made the damp jumpers totally worthwhile.
There are People Out There!
With my clinic hours I have to go out and grab my exercise at different times of the day and what surprised me to see, no matter what the time, there were others out there doing the same thing. Whether it was a mum taking the kids for a stroll, a dog owner walking their pooch or an office worker trying to grab some of that Winter sun, they were out roaming the neighbourhood too and they happily looked you in the eye and said “hi”. It was very connecting. So if you are feeling a little lonely or isolated I suggest a walk and when you pass someone give them a smile and a nod and you might be surprised to see that smile reciprocated.
I started this challenge to get me active again and even though my goal was to get myself moving I have to say that the benefits, so far, from my little challenge have been more reaching than just the increased physical activity. I’m reconnecting with my neighbourhood. I’m discovering new treasures. I’m getting some sunlight and filling my lungs with fresh air. I’m even making my dog happier as I take her along with me for most of my walks. I’m not sure if I will discover any more surprise benefits but perhaps there have been enough already to entice you to get out there too. I truly hope so!