postcards from a winter walk

Last week, I stepped out into the privacy of winter for a two mile walk.

Lured by the extra bright sunshine and the deep blue sky I crunched my way along the frozen path. The park was serene and empty on this beautiful morning. Perfect for some iphoneography!

Looking deep into the white, it was as if the cold, bright snow contained millions of teeny, tiny flash bulbs which twinkled as I walked by. Breathtaking white sparkle. I am the lone celebrity on this white carpet!

The snowplowed path is carved out like a luge track, curving between tall banks of chunky snow. The walking is easy; speedy turns and smooth straightaways. My eyes are free, trusting my feet to safely guide me.

Without any wind to blow through my layers, I don’t discern the single digit temperature, but am reminded of it as I kick a frozen snowball and it loudly skitters down the path like a styrofoam ball on linoleum.

The air so crisp and cold my throat and lungs feel like they’ve inhaled an altoid breath mint, without the mintiness.

It’s so quiet.

There are well defined shadows, full of stark contrast. They grab my attention and imagination as I start the second mile. These are not scary shadows, they are modern and conspicuous. The smudged network of delicate branches stretch long and silent across the endless white, like a stencil on a bedroom wall.

If I bend my head to look a certain way, the border of the trail illustrates a little city, it’s black skyline hugging the banks of a frozen river. Chicago? Paris? Hmm.

My own shadow is an impressive giant.

I am delighted I brought my camera today. What a walk! It’s over before I know it. Already, I feel the afterglow of its impressions alight upon my spirit. My soul is warmed by this cordial sodality with the Earth.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_0120

 

 

Advertisements

once an athlete always an athlete

For some, the motivation comes from deep within.

Whether we played kickball as a kid, organized sports in high school, ran 5K’s to stay in shape, do cross fit, yoga or still keep a membership at the local gym, for some reason some of us have the intrinsic desire to always push ourselves.

We continue to run one more lap, walk one more mile, lift one more set, serve one more ball, hold that stretch for 10 more seconds. It’s just how we are.

We find a way to chase, beat, scold, pace, want more of, and honor time. It can be our enemy or our conquest.

Amongst our friends and foes we ice, tape, medicate, make excuses for, seek alternative therapies and limp through our injuries. We don’t give up and we certainly don’t quit.

In our heads we are Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, the next Ninja Warrior, and that’s what drives us.

We keep doing it because therein lies our strength and the courage of our convictions.

I move therefore I am.   Haruki Murakami

 

Not always a fan of Galloway, but he nailed it this time.

april humor

Time to lighten up – have a laugh. Let’s talk Pinterest.

I am a Pinterest devotee. I love the randomness of the information I find. The best part is the surprise! Those times when I didn’t even know I needed an inspirational quote, or a fabulous photo or a delicious new recipe for a healthy way to eat peanut butter. Happily, I navigate through the rabbit-hole squares of the Pinterest matrix.  On occasion, I travel a great distance, and I am not sure how I arrived to where I am in the pinterest world, but that’s part of the fun.

Pinterest makes me laugh; gets me to think; awes me with beautiful photography of my favorite Earth (because now they’ve found a cousin planet), and Pinterest helps me understand and forgive myself when I have “lo-mo” (low motivation!)

Here’s how it works for me, I’ll visit Pinterest on Monday, grab some pins, run out of time, and leave the site. On Wednesday, I’ll visit my pins page and see what I pinned before, it’s kind of like I am visiting myself in another dimension. (Does that make sense?) I’ll try to explain… typically, I forget about Monday by Tuesday, (my mood, what I pinned, where I went on Pinterest). By the time I come back on Wednesday…I am in a whole different frame of mind. When I look back at what I pinned on Monday – I’m impressed with myself for whatever insight I though was important on that day. (Like having a bunch of personal assistants -a therapist, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a decorator, a gardener – you get the picture.) I have all of these positive voices in my head – and they’re all me motivating me!

Take this little cartoon for instance…this was a break through, this is me!

So true

As a retiree, I still haven’t found the perfect balance between how much I should stay busy and how much I should relax and enjoy. I suppose it will come, or maybe not. Maybe – this was me as a teacher? Maybe – this is my personality, my frame of reference, my “gestalt”? Hmmm, mind boggling thoughts for another day – or not…pin-it!

Then one day I found this tee shirt…

FREE SHIPPING- Super Cali Swagalistic Hella Sexy Dopeness, Off Shoulder Shirt, Hipster, Street Style Shirt (women, teen girls)

I don’t even know what this means…but I want to be it! What’s wrong with me? I find it humorously motivating and it makes me smile- just for that-it gets pinned!

 

How about this girl?

crossfitters:  Camille. Crossfit Games 2013. Photo by Josh Mirone.

When I saw this, I couldn’t stop looking…not because I’m weird or anything, but as a former Physical Educator with a high regard for the human body and it’s anatomical possibilities, I am amazed. I could feel my mind start to wonder…she looks so strong and there is such beauty in her strength, such beautiful muscle, no veins or ugly bumps and lumps…could I do this? Uhh, wake up missy! You’re fifty something years old, it ain’t ever gonna happen and probably wouldn’t have happened when you were younger. But, oh, we can dream! I don’t even want to know about all of the hours she has put into that body – but I am inspired at her effort. Pin-it!

On the same day, in the same excursion, I will find this girl…

Baile. Movimiento. Dance. Movement · Vogue editorial
Now… I want to be her; or take what she’s taking to feel what she’s feeling! Just spend a moment looking at her face…I love her face. I can’t decide what she’s expressing, but I find her look conveys a certain attitude I wish I had. Hmmm…good reminder to “just be you!”…pin it!
As my Pinterest clock begins to wind down, and I sadly become aware that I need to move back into the real world, resuming my life of retirement productivity (whatever that is!),

I find one more charming little square…

Funny
Wouldn’t ya know it, this one simultaneously pokes fun at me and Pinterest! Love it!  Pin it!
Yup, how much more would I get done if I just left Pinterest?
But then- how much more do I get done because of Pinterest?

dreamit

Three months.

This is the number a person needs to go past in order NOT to be considered an exercise dropout.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, at a minimum, exercise should be done for 30 minutes on 5 days of the week, for more than three months. This person is recognized as one who engages in regular exercise for health benefits.

In the beginning, three months seems like an eternity. But viewed through the lens of a whole life, it is more like a single snowflake in a two foot pile.

Three months becomes the challenge – what I will, I can. I won’t be THAT dropout. I will fight through this, one day at a time. I have a dream of a healthier me.

In a sublime and beautiful way, thinking begins to change, from “I have to exercise today” to “I need to exercise today.”

With that in mind, I find my walk is one of the first things I plan in the morning, everything else in the day revolves around it. My health becomes the priority.

Throughout my career, as I readied myself in the morning, I noticed a change in my thinking. For example, instead of planning what I would wear to work, I started to think about when and where the exercise in my day would take place – before or after school, in the morning or afternoon, by myself or with friends?  I didn’t think about exercise as medicine, but I did think it was like a vitamin, vitamin X! I needed my vitamin X everyday.

Packing an exercise bag the night before, making a plan with someone for a specific date and time, or keeping a daily journal are all ways to reinforce commitment. Setting goals for weight loss and/or improving strength and flexibility also keep us on target with motivation and focus. Deciding to make some minimal changes to diet, such as becoming aware of excess fats, sugars and salt can invigorate us, we feel cleaner in our food choices. Our bodies are becoming more efficient. Our minds are becoming more committed to change.

Three months should not be an end – but a beginning to a better lifestyle. When it comes to health, lifestyle behaviors trump heredity. We have some control over some disease – this is called prevention. An amazing quality of the human body is – it’s never too late to start.

The benefits of a healthy lifestyle can certainly overcome the barriers to the work if we allow a change in our thinking. We will slowly and surely become the dream we have in our heads of a healthy us.

Follow that Dream

habit

It’s seems as though it’s been snowing straight for a week.

Chicago is silently, stealthily getting buried under feet of snow. Tomorrow…the big chill comes with temperatures “the big windy” hasn’t seen in 20 years. They say the daytime high will be something close to -6 with a windchill of -13. Brrrr. People are heeding the weather advisories by sheltering in place –  with netflix binge-ing and crocks of comfort food. Yay! We can stay in our pajamas all day long. There is no better excuse.

But what about the walking? What about the habit?

Some of us… have one of these…

Let's go

and this Saint Bernard will beg, snuggle, sit on me, whatever it takes..with a look of “let’s go Mom, we really need to get out for a walk.” She absolutely loves the winter and totally transfers that joy to me. There is no way I can deny her a walk, and when I think about it, I realize she gets me going and out the door. Even when it means I may spend a half hour putting on boots, scarves, mittens and snow pants over my “lounging around the house clothes”, I do it. Isn’t it funny…dogs train us to their habits. They just think “walk”. There is no interference thinking like “it’s too cold, it’s too snowy, what will I wear? I’m too tired right now etc.”

While my dog helps me on most days, there are some days I really need more motivation to keep up my habit.

Recently, I came across an interesting blog – What happens to our brains when we exercise and why it makes us happier.  The science to support what is chemically happening within our brains and why it is so important to try and create a pattern of exercise can be incentive enough for me. Within the post were some very good tips about how to get into a consistent exercise habit. I found these tips prompted me to make a plan so that I would look forward to walking. Staying in a positive mindset meant I didn’t have to spend extra time and energy doing battle with negative thoughts.

Laying out my workout clothes the night before, logging my progress (which is what I do on dailymile), and starting out small – very small, has helped me move through these past few months. I would also add (because I’m a former teacher, of course) it helps to have a goal in mind. To get going on this, I found an awesome link to a template for making a habit. (oops! teacher in me – again.) Since I am a visual learner, there is no doubt visuals help keep me focused, plus, it doesn’t hurt when the template is humorous and good for a laugh.

So, with all of this in mind, I’m out for a walk – on this frigid, snowy, blowy Chicago day.

So  true!

motivation

“The dog that trots about finds a bone”  Golda Meir

Even though fitness, wellness, health and athletic performance are and have always been my interest, every once in awhile I find myself in need of some motivation – especially with walking.

For the greater part of my life, I have chased, caught, thrown, hit, bumped and kicked all sorts of balls, birds (as in shuttlecocks) and discs. I have completed all kinds of aerobic and anaerobic fitness challenges which have included some form of jogging, running, stepping, swimming, climbing, hiking, cycling, skiing, shoeing, lifting and I have always used sport and individual competitions and new activities to keep myself from getting bored or burnt out. There have been times when I have lost myself so much in chasing down a tennis ball, I know I must have been a labrador retriever in a previous life! Participating in sports has always, always made me happy, and training for them – never a chore.

I now find myself at a point in time where a life of all of this incredible action packed activity has left me with body complaint.  A term I’ve coined to describe a body unwilling to participate in any more sports or intense training without waking up the next morning with a nagging skeletal hangover. I suppose this could also be arthritis. The tricky thing about arthritis is – it is a fine line between not enough and too much exercise. Trying to keep myself motivated with walking and to find the right balance, I’ve recently come across a very good book which has given me some daily incentives. The book is The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds.

first 20 minutes copy

In the book, Gretchen shares some of the latest research in exercise science to stimulate the reader to begin moving – for the brain, for longevity and for overall health. For example in the first chapter, she describes the value of  high intensity interval training (HIIT) to be done in the first 20 minutes. Even walking can be done with intensity in mind. By walking three minutes at an extremely brisk pace, followed by three minutes of slower striding with repetitions of that set for five or six times, one should be able to get the heart rate elevated to about 70 percent of the maximum heart rate. A study is cited in the book which directly links walking and the incidence of colon cancer among women. “Women who walked briskly for five – six hours per week were much less likely to develop the disease then those who strolled for thirty minutes per week.” Since my Mom died prematurely at 48 years old of colon cancer, the results of this study grabbed my attention.

I think I’ve found my bone -I mean motivation – to set a goal in which I explore walking with intervals.