Back to the Gym

Until yesterday, I haven’t belonged to a gym since 2010. During the year and a half I worked at Rodale, I used their wonderful on-site fitness center from time to time, and after I came back to Philly in May of 2012, I just stopped working out. I did remain active, walking miles and miles through the city, and going sporadically to yoga. For a long time, I figured that was good enough.

I’ve been encouraging my Dad, who recently moved close to where I live in South Philly, to join a gym two blocks from his new place. I started to think, hey, maybe I’ll join too. I got pretty into the idea but stopped short of signing up. Why? Because there’s another gym that’s more convenient to my house–the one I belonged to for several years before taking off for the hinterlands to work at Rodale.

About a week ago, I signed up for a free trial and started spending 30 to 45 minutes on the elliptical. And then I remembered that I used to enjoy doing run/walk intervals on the treadmill. So one day last week I spent 20 minutes walking briskly for 2 minutes and then running slowly for 1. When I was done, I felt amazing. I got that special relaxed and happy feeling you get when you actually get your heart thumping and break a good sweat. It had really been a while.

And that’s when I knew I would sign up not for the gym close to my Dad but the one close to me–because I really need to start focusing my attention on taking care of myself. I don’t think going to the gym is going to be a huge help in terms of weight loss, but I remember now how much it helps my mental health.

The Power of Micro Yoga

One book I am really looking forward to

Have any of you noticed this hashtag popping up on twitter or instagram: #wycwyc?

It stands for, “what you can, when you can” and it’s a good reminder that small actions toward well-being are just as important, if not even more so, than the grand gestures. It’s the idea that even the seemingly minor positive things we can do for ourselves are worth doing; they add up to a better life over time.

It’s the brainchild of healthy lifestyle masterminds Carl Birnberg and Roni Noone, and I have to say this approach helped me break through the fitness block that’s been keeping me pretty sedentary lately.

Let’s take yoga. I really enjoy yoga; it makes me feel physically and mentally better. I love my local yoga studio, Wake Up Yoga, but going to a class there takes a two-hour chunk out of my day and I have been really busy lately. So, one morning last week, in the #wycwyc spirit, I googled “free yoga videos”, rolled out my yoga mat in front of my desk, and did a 15-minute session that I found on the terrific site Do Yoga With Me. It’s now bookmarked as a reminder that doing 15 or 20 minutes of yoga right at my desk when I need a break is so much easier to tackle than a full-on 90 minute class. It’s also way more productive than mindlessly scrolling through my facebook feed or staring at the blinking cursor in a blank word doc.

I think the real magic of the #wycwyc philosophy lies in the snowball effect it inevitably sets off. After a few days of doing a couple quick desk side yoga sessions, I felt more energized than I had in weeks. Suddenly, the idea of going to the gym didn’t seem so daunting–especially if I was content to simply pedal away on the elliptical trainer for 20 minutes.  (I ended up sticking around for 30 minutes.)

And the next day, the prospect of another trip to the gym was more appealing than off-putting. Carla and Roni have actually written a book about the what you can, when you can approach to health and wellness, and I’m excited to read it when it comes out in April. Wearing the right clothing helped me get into yoga too and there’s lots of pants and other apparel designed for stretching.

Anyway, for the moment at least, I no longer feel like I’m spiraling into a pattern of sloth but easing back into the fitter, more active life I want. If you are feeling the need for a quick shot of solidarity and inspiration on the wellness front, search out the #wycwyc hashtag and feel the big power of little lifestyle adjustments. Microyoga followed by tea and relaxation. That’s bliss.

Back to Zumba?

I have to tell you guys that I’m having a terrible week. Issues with my father have been flaring up and I’m trying to help him as much as I can–within reason. I am not always so great at boundary setting. I’ve lost a great many hours this week to dealing with him, and I had to draw the line and say I couldn’t be at yet more doctors’ appointments tomorrow. I have deadlines to meet and work to do. As my fellow freelancers out there surely know, when you work from home nobody respects the sanctity of your work day they way they would if you reported to an office. Anyway, I’m not posting just to complain–I’m right this minute trying to force myself to go to Zumba in hour even though I’m fairly behind on my work. (Wait, let me reframe that. I want to treat myself to a Zumba session.) If you happen to be getting this via RSS, please feel free to use the comments section here to encourage me to get out the door. My will is weak.