What worked: Body Movin’
The first step, was taking the belt clip off of my Blackberry and putting it back on my pedometer*. I hate to admit this about my little electronic pal, but it’s a pretty big contribution to my less than healthy work habits. Sure, I can balance, two jobs, freelance, a large fundraiser, my personal finances and reply to every email at a moment’s notice while twittering it all in real time to the beat of my favourite MP3’s, (Gawd! I LOVE this thing!) but doing all that, keeps me parked at my desk over lunch and breaks and never gave me a moment to just be in my own head…And that’s when I get my best ideas and regroup my energies. Just because I could take on one more thing, doesn’t mean I should. As productive as I want to be, I have to learn that my mind and body need my attention too. So, Pandora’s Blackberry has been demoted from belt to hand-bag, back to cell phone, day-timer and occasional GPS check for directions…really. I can quit any time I want to.
As demanding as the Blackberry can be, the pedometer is a much harsher mistress. I’m already familiar with pedometer protocol, 10, 000 steps per day is the minimum healthy daily activity. I haven’t been making 10, 000 steps a day for a while, and it’s harder to do now that I’m working from home and only 2 flights of stairs from my office. On the days I go to the gym, making 10, 000 steps is easy; I’m running/walking for a whole hour. Presently, I have a few design jobs on the go, which means sitting at my drawing table or computer, up and down the stairs for breaks a few times a day, but that’s about it so I had to get creative about squeezing in the steps I needed.
There are lots of little ways to bump up steps, when I went out for errands, I’d park away from the doors and walk the parking lot, I started drinking more water so that got me up and down those stairs a few more times a day, walk to the mailbox instead of stopping on the way home, I make a point of standing and walking around my office when I’m on the phone and I switched out my drawing chair for my big balance ball. (A suggestion the real-life Fiona made to me years ago.) It forces you to use your core muscles when you sit which helps with my drawing posture a lot, plus I can lean back and stretch when I want/need to.
The great thing about exercise is that once you get in the habit of being active, you actually start to want to stay that way. (I guess that Newton guy really knew what he was talking about.) On the days I can’t get to the gym, I’m actually missing it. I’m enjoying that spent-energy feeling and I’m really keen to make 5k in an hour again. As I mentioned previously, part of this goal is getting my running program** ramped up to do the 10k Terry Fox run. I’ve never been a great runner. At my very best, when I was running regularly, (3-5 times/week) I could do close to 6k in an hour. Now, I’m huffing and puffing my way through a little over 4.5k, and that’s including warm up and cool down. Not surprising really, the extra weight I’m carrying is about the same as one of those massive bags of dry dog chow you see on the floor of the pet food isle because it’s too big for the shelf. (Can you imagine trying to run for an hour while carrying one of those?) It’s going to take a while to get up to where I want to be, but I’m feeling pretty good about it. Goals aside, when you diet without doing your exercise, you start to feel a bit like a partly-melted candle once the weight starts to come off.
What needs work: Moderation & Balance
I was extra diligent about my activity this week because I had a day at the Toronto One Of A Kind Show planned. It’s a great show, and one of my favourite features is the award winning food artists, (at this level, you have to call them artists). Hand made cheeses, olive oils, the most beautiful vinegars, my favourite hot-sauce guy and the chocolates!! It’s a gorgeous assortment and all so beautifully presented. The vendors are always giving out samples left right and center, it is fantastic! This event only happens once a year. Diet or no, I’m not going to miss it, but I don’t want to fall back into the snack-trap, so I was very careful about my food all week, got in a few extra work outs, brought a baggie of veggies to snack on while walking around so I’d stay away from the food-court and picked my samples at the show carefully. I kept my purchases to the olive oils and sauces that I can use in healthy cooking, which actually worked out really well because without buying the sweets I had extra cash to buy the best of the best and then had one perfect soft ginger bread cookie with spicy, chewy chunks of candied ginger baked in from my favourite Toronto bakery and that was it. I never once felt deprived, or like I was missing out, I didn’t kill my efforts, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I’m ready to start a fresh week. What I have to take away from this experience though, is to pick and plan my battles carefully and with the extra exercise, I can have little indulgences occasionally without consequence, but I don’t want to get in an “exercise to eat-more” habit.
*Pedometer – A little gadget that counts your steps as you walk, run and generally move about, it’s actually a really fun thing. You can get them in any sports shop, and most box-stores, they range in price from $5 – $125 depending on features. I paid $19.99 for mine and it’s a good one, counts steps, translates them to calories or kilometers and I have an Elvis sticker on it.
**Running Program – Just for the record, I didn’t start running without help. I had talks with trainers and did a running clinic with the Running Room, I highly recommend them, they’re smart, safe and motivational. They’ll ramp you up slowly to prevent injury and keep you excited about the next milestone. Most gyms will have them or be able to recommend a place that does, I found a few online that were pretty good reference, coolrunning.com is a good place to start, their couch-5k program is a lot like the one at the Running Room.