So, apparently, sitting down for more than 6 hours a day increases the likelihood of death within 15 years compared to someone who sits down for less than 3. For someone whose main job requires me to be in front of the computer, combined with my innate sense of exercise-avoidance, it seems like I might be doomed to an early death. I live such a sedentary lifestyle, I know I worry about my fitness. But, I don’t do much about it.
I keep starting a new exercise routine, but I never seem to be able to stick to it. I’ve done all sorts of dance classes from hip hop to flamenco. I’ve done Zumba, Pilates, and even gone to the gym. I have also even tried to use technology like the Fitbit and the Wii and Xbox to help me out.
And, while I have become pretty much attached to my Fitbit One, and have tried to increase my step count from a measly 1,500 steps daily average to around 2,000+ steps daily, that’s still very far off the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
So, I’ve been bugging myself about this whole fitness thing. Again. Especially because my days have become really, reeeaaallllyyyy busy lately. As in, busier than ever. And, my body has been complaining. Or maybe that’s just aging. 🙂
Nevertheless, yesterday, in one of my ‘What do I do about this problem?’ brainstorming moments that I often have, I told ‘exercise-deprived’ me to get a move on it. Literally. As in, don’t wait for the beginning of the new year or anything like that to come up with a goal or a plan. Just start.
That’s why I ended up working on this new personal commitment: Weekly Walks on Monday Mornings.
Nothing huge. Just start with a 20-30 minutes walk on Monday morning – before I start my hectic workweek. Just around my neighbourhood. After all, that’s one of the advantages of living in a suburb like the one we live in – it’s meant to be conducive for local walks. I’ll try to increase time, distance, and effort as I build up my fitness and such. But, for now, no big plans. This way, I don’t overthink it and come up with all sorts of reasons not to do it.
And, to help me to keep up this commitment, I’ll try to do the following:
1. Check-in here on the blog and/or my blog’s Facebook Page. Once a week. Hopefully, on the same Monday like I’m doing today. I know that’s a big ask because I can barely keep a blogging schedule. And, definitely not a walking schedule. So to walk and blog once a week is quite huge. But, the plan is to avoid overthinking. Just walk and blog.
Even if it’s just a short walk. Like today, where I clocked in 3k+ for my 30-minute walk around the block. Not much at all, but it made me feel so good afterwards. I have to remember that feeling. And, to keep wanting to have that feeling. So I’ll keep on walking. And hopefully, one day, to find a way to do it more than just once a week. Knowing how I am, though, I’m a long way off that, so I won’t even think about it too much. For now, just a short weekly walk would do.
And yes, even if it’s just a short blog post. Not like this one. Even if it’s just a photo with the words: “Yes, folks, I did my Weekly Walk today!” That will do. Again, the key is NOT to overthink. This is also my problem with my blogging practice here, you see. I overthink too much so I end up not blogging as often as I’d like.
So yeah, just a photo with a small text would do. And, if all goes to plan, a weekly walk blog post is good because I don’t have to think about the dreaded: “So, what will I blog about today?” question, where I end up with dozens of ideas – get overwhelmed – and not blog anything instead.
Since I’m all new to this ‘going out for a walk’ thing right now, my idea is to keep it simple. But, find a way to make it fun and interesting for me.
Walking, after all, has been linked to creativity. In fact, I’ve read a handful of articles giving examples of many writers, entrepreneurs, artists, and other productive creatives who say that walking is what they do to keep their creativity flowing.
That’s why it’s even more appalling of me NOT to be doing more walking. I know my excuse is that I work from home. But, really, that’s even more reason I should make an extra effort to go out and walk.
Anyway, as I was saying – since I love art, I thought I’ll find a way to tie my walks with it. One day, I’d like to do sketchwalking. But, if I can at least collect images by taking photos of things, people, and/or places I see in my walks, then that should help.
Today, for example, I didn’t set out walking with a theme. The idea was just to go out and walk. While out and about, I started noticing all the weeds and plant matter. So, I started picking them up from the ground. Or, pulling out a weed. To collect them to take a photo of my collected things from my walk later.
Sometimes, I just took a photo quickly of something that I found interesting. Like the photo of the purple thing up there. I don’t know what it is but I’m assuming it was a weed. Though it looked HUGE for a weed. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought it looked pretty and scary at the same time. I loved the colour!
Anyway, you can see my collected weeds and more at the very top of this blog post. I took the photo at the end of my work day at around 5pm so they look a bit wilted already. But, I thought that they still actually look pretty together like that, don’t you think?
After I took that photo, I was also inspired to sketch them. So, I took out my never-before-used brown paper sketchbook. And, also, decided to take out my brand new set of gouache to play with. And, here’s what I’ve ended up with:
Maybe, if inspiration continues to flow, I might be able to do a weekly sketch from my walks too. Well, if I can anyway. But, I am reminding myself NOT to stress too much about it if I don’t.
If today’s walk is anything to go by, though, all the articles about walking and creativity was proved right. My brain was going on overdrive with inspiration as I was walking. Ended up imagining future themes of my walks. What I can do to sketch or to make art with. How I can use these inspirations in my painting and my digital art. But, yes, I’m trying to calm myself down and to remember that the purpose here is to WALK. Everything else is a bonus. Sure would be great if I can keep tying it in with something fun and interesting for me, of course. Let’s see how it goes!
3. Have a contingency plan. While I am committing myself to a weekly walk, I know that there might be times when I simply can’t do it for whatever reason. Obviously, I intend on getting rid of the usual avoidance reasoning. But, if the weather is simply awful (eg, heavy rain, boiling hot, etc) and/or if I’m sick, then I think I’d like to give myself a ‘free pass’ on those days. Hopefully, though, I would be committed enough that I would learn to: Make it up by either exercising indoors (if raining) or some other time (if sick).
Any other reason will have to result to a penalty of some kind for myself. I haven’t decided yet what that might be. It can be anything from either having to give up something I love (eg, donate some of my favourite things to charity or something similar) or, perhaps, give up one of my ‘unhealthy habits’ for a week (eg, “Since I didn’t go for my weekly walk today, I’m not allowed to drink Coke for the whole week.”).
Hopefully, having such penalty will also provide me with added incentive to keep going. That’s part of my problem, you see. Apart from the knowledge that I am not getting any fitter (or younger!), and I get tired a lot, I don’t have any other penalties for NOT exercising. I don’t gain weight easily. I’m not losing money for a gym membership. No one’s telling me off for not being fit enough (though my hubby and kids who all love sport and do some form of exercise regularly tell me I’m really naughty for not trying harder to be more healthy).
In the same vein, I’m planning on rewarding myself for keeping to a commitment. Again, not sure yet. But, perhaps, if I complete a weekly walk for the whole month, I can buy something off my wish list or something. Perhaps, allow myself to add something I really want into my art stash (I’ve given myself a self-imposed ban from buying more art materials at the moment). Or, sign-up for yet another art course that I’ve been eyeing.
I’m not sure if this will work, but I’m really crossing my fingers and toes that the extra incentives will help me to keep to my weekly walk commitment.
I know this seems like such a lot of hoopla for something so pathetic as a short weekly walk. But, believe me, my family is always extra pleased to hear whenever I do something that resembles exercise. They know I work hard for all sorts of things and I’m committed to my work and my family. And yes, committed to personal development too. But, exercise is one of those things that I’ve been terrible with.
The same way I’m terrible with Wordament. And singing. REALLY bad at those.
But, getting better with walking (and exercise, in general) should be more of a priority. And hopefully, I have a much better chance at improving my health and fitness by walking and exercising more.
Wordament and singing? I don’t think any amount of practice will help to make me better at them. 😉
So, there you go. It’s out there. Now I’ve got to be back here and blog about my walk next week. With any luck, maybe I’ll get to blog again before then.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.