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Archive for the ‘walking’ Category

I’m in downtown Columbia, SC. Right behind where I’m sitting is busy Taylor Street and I can hear the cars on the road and construction at a neighboring property.

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While I can hear the noise, there’s no one around me. I have this tucked away garden all to myself. It’s like this every time I’ve been here at lunch. This hidey-hole, and places like it, is where I can get alone and recharge.

To get to this particular spot takes some walking. It’s easy to reach in a lunch hour, still giving me about 30 minutes of privacy. Therefore, coming out here serves two purposes: I get a bit of exercise and I get some alone time. For an introvert, the lunch hour doesn’t get much better than this.

Wherever I am, I try to find spots like these. Often times they are hiding in plain sight. Parks and public gardens like the one I’m in now are usually the first places I investigate. Do you have a quiet, private place to which you can flee? Even if you’re an extrovert, it’s still good to have a couple of such places when you just need to get away.

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Walking ShadowI work in information technology. That means most days I’m in front of a computer, sitting down, for the majority of the day. This sedentary work (from an exercise perspective) is why I’ve packed on the pounds over the years. I’ve made a commitment to lose the weight and to run long distance again. However, running long distance takes time, far too much time to accomplish during a lunch hour. Working out with weights is good, but requires a gym membership, which may not be feasible for some. Or, if you’re like me, where you’d like to get a gym membership is closer to your house, not your work, making working out at lunch at the gym no longer an option.

One option that is on the table for most folks is walking. A quick bite to eat and there should be time left over for a walk. It doesn’t have to be too intense, and it doesn’t have to be that long. Even a 15 minute walk can be productive. If you can’t spare more than 15 minutes, take that. Then do the other 15 minutes some other time, such as before or after work. The key is to get out and do some exercise when you can. Also, 15 minutes of walking is something that is in the range of most people, even if they haven’t worked out in some time. That’s actually how I started to get back into things. I just started walking, and when I did, I first started at about 15 minutes a session.

If you’re the type that has to track something while you walk, consider getting a pedometer. A few years back my organization sponsored a contest where if you walked a certain number of steps each week, you won an inexpensive prize. For instance, if you averaged 2,500 steps over 7 days (17,500 steps) you received a cozie with an inspirational message to keep working out and it went up from there. The top cumulative steppers had chances to win gas card prizes. Tracking your walking with a pedometer gives you numbers to shoot for. A study also shows that if you shoot for 10,000 steps, you end up walking about a mile more each day than if you just shoot for 30 minutes of walking. It’s okay to work up to that number, the key is just to get active, and a walk during the lunch hour is one of the easiest ways to do so.

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ExhaustionLife isn’t a series of ideal situations. Much of the time, the situation before us is actually far from being ideal. We cannot let that stop us from pushing forward toward our goals.

“Discipline is doing what’s right, even when no one is looking.” – quote from The Citadel

I woke up this morning with a bad migraine. I had balance and I wasn’t particularly light or noise sensitive. So as far as migraines go, this one was mostly pain. When I say I woke up, I was actually up before 4 AM. My alarms were set for 5 and 5:15 AM (second alarm to help ensure I got up). I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. And I knew I was tired and hurting. But today I had slated to walk 3.5 miles for my workout.

I got some things done around the house and ate a quick breakfast that I knew would help fuel the workout. After that, right around 5 AM, I headed out the door. It would have been really easy to beg off today due to the migraine. I’ve done it before. However, I knew that whether I stayed or went, I would feel the same discomfort from my headache. Exercising wasn’t going to make it worse. Not going would mean I wouldn’t advance towards my fitness and health goals. And it was this level of reasoning that got me out the door.

We face discomfort and obstacles all the time. The natural response for most folks when this happens is to not want to move forward. After all, most folks don’t like being uncomfortable. It’s easy to go with this natural response and a lot of folks do. But we need to remember that whenever we do this, whenever we allow discomfort and/or other obstacles to win, we make no progress towards our goals. We stay stuck just where we are. And truth be told, there will always be obstacles in the way of any worthy or challenging goal. In these situations we need to acknowledge the reality of the discomfort, to spot the obstacles, steel our minds to face them, and push through with what we need to do.

Note that I didn’t say I had a knee injury or had tweaked an ankle such that it would have been a bad idea to go out and walk for that distance. I was dealing with discomfort and what I needed to do to move closer to a goal wouldn’t result in permanent injury or a long-term set back. If we were talking about something along the lines of an injury that could have been exacerbated, the right thing to do would have been not to press it, but to either get healthier or seek a better situation.

Our motivation is key to pushing through. One of the things we can do to give us motivation is to remember what we’re working towards. Picture in your mind’s eye you having achieved your goal. In my case I want to get back to where I can do long distance running. Long distance running was something I once enjoyed and it is something I greatly miss. However, I still have quite a ways to go before I can begin doing so again. Images of me running along the seawall in Iwakuni, Japan or through Charleston, SC, memories from when I did run, provide the fodder to push forward. They give me a hunger to get back to that state. And that means I’m more than willing to face the discomfort so I can make progress.

Another thing to remember is that most folks won’t push through. They’ll let the obstacles or the discomfort stop them. So by pushing through, you gain an advantage. By pushing through, you set yourself apart. That’s something else you can use to motivate yourself.

 

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I read a post the other day by Sebastian Marshall (blog | twitter) regarding the fact that he tries to maximize his day. This got me to thinking about how most folks, myself included, spend our days. I know there are times when I’m maximum output: every minute seems to be productive and sleep is minimal. Unfortunately, I still find myself wasting a lot of time. Our time is limited. We should look to maximize it. Now this doesn’t mean becoming workaholics, but it does mean seeking to make every moment count.

I’ve tried to be more intentional about how I spend my time, trying to plan out the hours of my day better. I’ve only been slightly successful at this, but that is mostly due to drastic changes with my work schedule which are beyond my control (working from home the last couple of weeks and that should last a few weeks more… meaning my hours are more diverse but it also means that sometimes home things come to the forefront which is why my hours are more diverse). I need to do a better job. Some things that are helping are:

Track My Goals and the Tasks Needed to Accomplish the Next Step

This comes from Getting Things Done and I’ve modified my system to accommodate some of the lessons I’ve learned from that book. I still need to do a better job of reviewing regularly, but by knowing what needs to be done next, that helps reduce the procrastination. Also, there are little tips, like organizing your errands, keeping track of what can be done at what location, having a five minute list, if something takes 2 minutes or less to do then do it, which helps me make better use of my time.

Stop Trying to Multitask So Much and Minimizing Distractions

For knowledge workers, multitasking tends to do more harm than good. There’s research out there that shows that frequent multitaskers tend to be worse at multitasking than those who only do it when it’s an absolute must. The nature of my job means I’m always having to do some multitasking, but in reality what I should be trying to do is focusing on one thing for a concentrated period of time before moving on the next task. Some of the ways I accomplish this at my computer:

  • I turn off email notifications. I don’t need to see the little flash of an icon telling me I have new mail distracting me from what I’m doing. I check my mail at scheduled intervals.
  • I turn off all notifications on Tweetdeck. Yes, I use Twitter, but on my own terms.
  • I don’t have Tweetdeck or Facebook up on the screen unless I’m using it. I pull them up when I intend to view them, but I leave them minimized otherwise so as to not be a distraction.
  • I am trying to collect interesting links, etc., that I may get through my blog reading, through email, and the like into Evernote so that I review them when I have slotted time for that. Otherwise, I can go from link to link and before I know it, I’ve lost a lot of time.
  • I am starting to use a timer to get my attention so that I am only spending a certain amount of time on the “cool down” type of tasks, like checking how my Yankees are doing.

Intentionally Take Breaks

Research shows that taking breaks can actually improve our productivity. I can remember the days when I would sit for hours upon hours coding. But looking back, I wonder how much time I was actually spinning my wheels at certain points when a break would have really helped. Add to this that most knowledge workers sit down all day, and taking a break and getting the blood moving is more healthy. Simply walking around the floor or going up and down a couple of flights of stairs can help wake up the body, burn off some calories, keep the muscles working, etc.

Take Breaks That Involve Getting a Bit of Sun

Studies show that spending 10-15 minutes in the sunlight helps both vitamin D and serotonin production. We need more vitamin D in our diets as a general rule and serotonin helps us keep balanced. So if I combine breaks with getting outside and walking around the block, then I get the mind refresh, the vitamin D production, and the serotonin production all in one fell swoop. In addition, the 15 minutes I spend walking around the block involve more calories burned.

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Yesterday was a down day. I was pretty much sick the whole day with sinuses. I got the weigh-in accomplished, but nothing on the exercise front.

Today, I’m still a bit under the weather, but I’m at work. During lunch I knew I needed to get a copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, so I hoofed it down to my local library for one. This is for the Online Book Club that was started on Twitter by @SQLChicken (Jorge Segarra) and @peschkaj (Jeremiah Peschka). The idea is to read one non-technical book a month and discuss. If you’re interested, follow the link for the Online Book Club and one of those guys will approve you.

As for exercising today, getting to the credit union and then to the library and back was about a 30 minute walk with few interruptions (it’s nice that there’s automated checkout at the library). I don’t know if I will get out to the soccer field today before the youth meeting tonight at church, but I think I will try. It’ll be a time where I’ll need to be careful, because the temperature is supposed to be 97 degrees (Fahrenheit) with over 100 as a heat index.

And on that note, there is some new research that suggests that US kids may suffering from low levels of vitamin D. An easy way to solve that issue is to get them out in the sun for a bit each day.  Granted, the studies were with relatively small sample sizes, but some activity outside should, in general, be good for kids. The same could be said for adults, too.

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