It’s spring, hooray! For me, it’s also been a year since I got COVID, and I’m starting to feel more normal. Ten years older, tired all the time, and still plagued with teenage-level skin problems, but other than that, more normal. Time to start thinking about working out again.
I’m starting to be able to do a full hour on the elliptical again without having sneezing fits for the rest of the evening. Only about 75% of what used to be a casual workout, but hey, it’s a start.
It’s questionable whether this is the perfect workout, though. Research indicates that the body eventually adjusts to whatever it is that we do as the default, meaning that eventually, we quit gaining additional fitness benefits.
In midlife, it’s not so much that we’re looking for Olympian levels of fitness. It’s more like staving off whatever aches or pains have been cropping up lately.
Sadly, it’s probably more motivating to feel like “I can make this nagging pain go away” with some sort of stretch than it is to feel like “If I keep doing this, I can do some cool fitness tricks.”
Make a list. Where does it hurt and when? All the time, or only when you stand up?
Other than being in recovery from whatever the heck the coronavirus did to my innards, there are a few obvious issues I want to work on:
Chronic neck and shoulder tension from working nine-hour days at a desk with poor ergonomics
General stress level - the eyelid-twitching kind
Twinges in one ankle, probably because I keep sitting on it while I work
Now it’s time for another list, and that is: the constraints.
Everyone has a list, probably mental, possibly engraved in marble, and that list is called Reasons I Must Be Let Off the Hook. “I can’t because.” Literally nobody cares - you don’t need reasons to do or not do things, just do what you want - but defensiveness causes us to catalogue our roadblocks and obstacles.
(Downstairs neighbors, tiny living room, gym is closed, no equipment, etc etc).
Meantime there is always someone in the world in the same situation, doing the thing we Cannot Do, because that person sees the thing as a reward and an entitlement rather than a chore or duty.
And vice versa.
For instance, nothing will stop me from reading for entertainment. I have a novel going at all times. I’ll read while I brush my teeth, put away groceries, fold laundry, or even while getting my teeth drilled at the dentist. There are probably people in the world who do not see reading as their escape and would not read during any of the times that I do. Therefore they’ll come up with their personal list of Reasons I’m Too Busy to Read.
I would probably match most of the items on that list and use them as Reasons I’m Too Busy to... do nail art? Whatever else I don’t want to do that feels like social pressure.
Anyway, it isn’t the “reasons” that we “can’t” do something. It’s the story we tell ourselves about what incentive we would have to do that thing.
For instance, I won’t get up at 5:00 a.m. no matter how many productivity articles I read about how great it is. With two exceptions. I’ve done it in order to get to the airport for an international flight, because DUH, and I’ve done it in order to get downtown to run my one marathon.
My mom got up with me to drive me, because she is that kind of person. Who would get up at five in the morning just to do something nice for someone.
I, uh, would not do that. Let me give you the long list of reasons why I can’t give you a ride at 5:30 a.m., starting with “I don’t have a car” and ending with “I am not the kind of person who would wake up that early to do someone a favor.”
We recognize our own inner resistance and often, we can laugh about it.
One type of resistance is to hate the idea of doing anything trendy, and I have that big-time. I’ve never gone for a manicure, I don’t drink wine or coffee, I’ve never worn Crocs, and I’m darn well not going to do a popular workout just because millions of people enjoy it and find it effective.
Or... maybe I can accept that doing what works is a good idea?
This is where I turn to my practice of Do the Obvious.
What would be the most obvious workout for someone with neck and shoulder tension?
Yoga? Yeah, you’re probably right.
What would be the most obvious workout for someone with high stress?
Probably yoga again? Maybe.
I actually have a different plan for that, and that is to draw on my natural preference for variety and dislike of routine. What if I just... chose a time slot and did whatever random workout seemed like fun to try that day? Dance, hula hoop, or whatever?
As I was sitting here in the park working on this post, a hundred yards away there was a little girl doing cartwheels and various dance moves. She might have been ten or twelve. Never in my life have I been that agile. She hopped up on her bike and rode away, streamers blowing in the breeze, and I thought, I hope she has a fun summer.
I also thought, I wonder if there’s still time for me. At 45. I wonder if there’s still time for me to learn to do a cartwheel like that?
That’s how I want to feel when I work out, like a lithe and happy child playing just because she can.
Rather than a lumpy, crooked office worker hunched over a desk, whingeing and twingeing her way into a crotchety retirement.
It’s spring, and what will I do to enjoy it besides sit crunched up in my chair?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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