On the Clock

So.  Let's get back to wellness.  Specifically, physical fitness.  

If you remember my last post on the topic, we were talking about what "counts" when it comes to exercise.  Because really, as it turns out, anything that gets you moving counts as exercise.  And it happens that a lot of us move . . . by gardening.

So I decided to give it my best "scientific" test.


On Saturday afternoon, I gathered my gardening tools, and set my Apple watch for a workout.  (I had to choose "Mixed Cardio" because Apple doesn't have a category for "Gardening.")  (Although they should.  As I'm about to demonstrate.)

For the next hour and (nearly) thirty-nine minutes, I gardened.  It was pretty heavy-duty gardening:  cleaning beds, digging weeds, cutting back shrubs, hauling debris -- standard early-spring garden chores. I was pretty intentional about doing as much of my work as I could on my feet (like . . . without sitting for long periods of time on my trusty little garden cart), so I was doing a lot of squatting, bending, carrying, and walking about.  

It was tiring!  But . . . how good a workout was it?


Turns out . . . it was a pretty good one!

In an hour and (just under) thirty-nine minutes, I burned 341 active calories with an average heart rate of 100 bpm.  That's MUCH more of a workout than I would have predicted.  (Thanks, Apple watch.)  In fact, I had burned nearly the same number of calories on a 5+ mile walk with JoJo and a friend earlier that morning.

Bottom line?  Not only does gardening "count" as exercise -- but it is an effective workout, to boot!  (No longer am I going to wonder why I'm so tired after a session in the garden, that's for sure.)

How about you?  Have you discovered any new ways to move?

Everything Counts

What do you think COUNTS . . . as exercise?

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  • Do you think you have to be doing something for a certain amount of time for it to "count" as exercise?
  • Do you think you have to be breathing hard and sweating and otherwise pushing yourself to the limit for it to "count" as exercise?
  • Do you think you have to be in a gym on miserable pieces of equipment for it to "count" as exercise?

Well.  If you do, you're not alone!  But I'm here to tell you that . . . what "counts" when it comes to exercise is different from what you think.  

In days gone by, there were some pretty specific recommendations for physical fitness and health that were, basically, large amounts of high intensity activity several times a week.  This was a very one-size-fits-all approach that didn't end up working for most people.  And many of us, even now, still carry this mental image of what counts as exercise in our heads.  Which is why we feel like we "fail" when we don't exercise like that.

But way back in 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General came out with a report on Physical Activity and Health that drastically changed the official notion of what "counted" as exercise.  The updated report gave us the go-ahead to:

  • Accumulate our physical activity throughout the day (it's not necessary to do all our exercise in one go)
  • Be less intense in our activity (we don't have to sweat or breathe heavily for exercise to be effective)
  • Count as exercise those activities we do naturally in daily life (walking, gardening, house cleaning, for example)

Somehow, though, we mostly choose to ignore that report, instead sticking with our old, outdated notions of what "counts."  And then . . . we continue to feel like we're "failing."

Let's work at breaking down one fitness barrier this week:  Let's reconfigure our notion of what "counts" as exercise!  (Trust me.  After working on removing the wallpaper from my guest bathroom this weekend, I can tell you it definitely "counts.")  It's a start.  Because if we can break down this mental barrier to fitness, we can move forward together from there.

So.  What do you say?
What do YOU do - on the regular - that you didn't think was exercise. . . but might actually be exercise?


Summing It Up


So, last week I wrote a blog post that asked a question:  What's stopping you from starting to focus on your fitness?

I'm just gonna admit it.  This was a scary thing for me to do.  Because what if you thought I was full of crap, talking about fitness on a (sort of) knitting kind of blog.  What if you weren't interested?  What if I was just way off base on that topic?  What if . . . no one even responded???

But.  I think I wasn't really off base.  Because you DID respond.  And I am so honored to have received your responses.  (Thank you.)


It turns out that many of us share the same barriers to working on our fitness:

  • TIME  . . . turns out to be The Biggie.  Finding it.  Having enough.  Balancing it with our other priorities.
  • What I call "The Hassle Factor" is also big.  Needing to change in and out of appropriate clothes.  Having the right gear.  The distance to a gym.  Sweat.  Dealing with our hair.  Depending on someone else's schedule (the gym's, for example).
  • Boredom.  Just not liking to exercise, generally.  And being bored while we're doing it.
  • Needing to find a partner or "accountability buddy."  Because for many of us, it's easier to exercise with a friend.
  • Health issues.  It's not as easy to move as it once was.  Injuries mean we need to change up our preferred ways of moving.  It's hard to get started again after a set-back.
  • Weather.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too windy.  Too icy.
  • Isolation.  If we living in a rural area, it's hard to find a convenient gym.  Or a nearby exercise buddy.

It also turns out that many of us are motivated by the same things when we do focus on our fitness:

  • Wanting to feel better.  Lose some weight.  Be healthier.
  • Being part of a "community" of exercise friends and "accountability buddies."
  • Our dogs!
  • Wearing our fitness trackers or watches.
  • Finding good instructors or trainers.
  • Our grandchildren.
  • Endorphins.

We're very willing to share our advice and tips for what does work for us:

  • Figure out what you like to do, then do that.
  • Find the time of day that works best for you.
  • Mix things up to avoid boredom.
  • Schedule your fitness first, and then work your schedule around that.
  • There's a lot of value in a 10-minute workout.

Best of all . . . You shared your mantras!

  • "Get outside and GO." (Margene)
  • "I can do anything for 10 minutes." (Carolyn)
  • "I'm training for my next decade." (Yvonne)

Now what?

Oh, stay tuned!
(Because now I'm really motivated!)


Don't forget to check out this month's Stash Giveaway.  Comment by Friday at 5pm EST if you're interested!


Let's Start With What's Stopping You

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately . . . about physical wellness . . . and, specifically, about exercise.  Or working out.  Or fitness.  Or whatever we choose to call it.

And why it's so very hard for most people to DO.

(Because it is.)


I decided I don't need to write a blog post about WHY we should focus more on our fitness.  Because we already know that.  

I decided I needed to write a blog post about . . . what's stopping us from doing it.  What is it, exactly, that's keeping YOU from a fitter YOU?  Could it be . . . 

  • that you just really don't like exercising?
  • that you hate to sweat?
  • that you don't know where to start?
  • or that you've "failed" so many times before you just can't bear to try again?
  • or maybe because you're just too busy?
  • don't have time?
  • don't have energy?
  • that you don't have a gym nearby?
  • or that you hate gyms?
  • that you'll do it some other time . . . later . . . ?
  • that you don't think you can do it on your own?

There are so many reasons for not doing it; so many reasons for not moving.  
What . . . do you think . . . is the nugget of something that keeps you from moving?

I think that's the place we should start!


Let's discuss this!  Leave a comment and let me know what's stopping you from starting . . . working on your fitness.  And - if you have started (yay!), please share your tips.  Because we can all learn from each other.  

I'll put together a little summary for next week -- and share some things I've been reading lately that may help us all get moving.

If It's Tuesday It Must Be Time to Talk About Wellness

Two weeks ago, I (rather boldly) declared that I was going to explore various dimensions of wellness on Tuesdays this year here on the blog.  (As you may remember, I had an epiphany last month that in order for me to "live my best life," I needed to focus on wellness - in an holistic sense.)


It's Tuesday.

And I'm here to begin my deeper-dive into one of the six dimensions of wellness as described by the National Wellness Institute.

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(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post, but I decided to include it because it was such a lovely surprise to see this swan on my walk with the dogs yesterday.)  (And, yes.  Spring in Michigan is very brown.)  (But at least it's not snowy.)

I've decided to begin my exploration into wellness with . . . the physical dimension.


Well.  Because that's the dimension I think I'm doing best in (of the six) -- although there is always much to learn.  And, hearing from you, it's a dimension of wellness that many of you struggle with.  So I thought it would be a good place to begin.

According to the descriptions from the National Wellness Institute, the Physical dimension of wellness includes the following elements:

  • regular physical exercise
  • proper diet and nutrition
  • discouraging tobacco and drug use, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • following safety precautions, practicing medical self-care, and using medical systems appropriately

Further, they provide two basic tenets of physical wellness:

  1. It's better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health rather than impair it.
  2. It's better to be physically fit than out of shape.

Further, I would argue that physical wellness is even more important as we age!  If you've spent any amount of time caring for an aging parent or relative, you're already aware of how quickly our physical bodies degrade with age.  It's a fight against gravity from here on out, folks!  My thoughts?  We should do whatever we can to stay as active and independent as we can for as long as we can.  And physical wellness plays a huge role in doing just that!

I totally get that it's hard to focus on fitness . . . when you've never really focused on fitness.  We're fighting all kinds of barriers when it comes to physical fitness:  Discomfort.  Boredom.  Inertia.  Time.  Money.  Procrastination.  

It's just . . . so hard . . . to make fitness a priority.  (The New York Times reported recently that 1 in 4 adults over age 50 are essentially sedentary -- meaning they only move for "essential daily activities.")  (That's not good.)

I'm here to encourage you to make a change.  To make physical wellness a priority.  (For Future-You if for no other reason.)

It's never too late to begin working on our fitness.  In fact, becoming more physically fit in our 50s/60s/70s will help us stave off chronic illness and overcome injuries quicker in our later years.  Improving our core strength, balance, and flexibility NOW will help us prevent falls, pick ourselves up if we do fall, and keep us moving long into our older years.

I'll admit it.  I'm sort of a fitness zealot to begin with.  (I think Future-Kym will appreciate all the time I spend at the gym.)  But that's what zealots do -- they spread the gospel.  So over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to make a case for upping your physical wellness game along with me.  

Don't worry.  I won't try to convince you to join a gym or start jogging or anything.  But I will share information and tips with you.  I'll describe what I'm doing to continue to challenge myself with fitness goals as I age.  And I'll be your biggest cheerleader if you decide to become more fitness-minded.

Let's all start living our best lives . . . by feeling good!

(Stay tuned.)



Tuesdays Are For Wellness

Last week, I wrote about recent my eureka-moment . . . that to live my best life, I need to focus on wellness.  Since then, I've been doing some researching and some reading, and y'know . . . there's a lot of information out there!  And a lot of it is worth sharing. (Especially because, based on your comments, I think a lot of you are interested in wellness, too.)


Tuesdays around here . . . are for wellness.
(At least, for the time being.)


There are many books and articles and websites based on wellness and self-care (because "self-care" is really having a moment these days).  There is lots of information -- and much of it is focused on the self-care-as-pampering concept.  Now I do think that a bit of pampering does the body/heart/soul good, but I think there's more to self-care and wellness than pampering!  I'm looking for a more holistic approach to wellness.

I discovered an organization called the National Wellness Institute, and they define wellness as follows:  Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.  

Now THAT's what I'm looking for!

Further, the National Wellness Institute describes wellness as having six interconnected dimensions:

  • Physical - Maintaining a sound body through regular exercise, proper nutrition, sleeping well, monitoring personal health, and avoiding harmful habits
  • Social - Connecting and contributing to our environment and community, and understanding our personal impact on both environment and society
  • Intellectual - Engaging with creative and stimulating mental activities
  • Spiritual - Searching for meaning and purpose in human existence, and aligning our actions with what's truly important to us
  • Emotional - Becoming aware of, accepting, and expressing our feelings, and understanding how they impact our daily lives
  • Occupational - Contributing our unique skills, gifts, and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding

I really like this dimensional concept when it comes to wellness.  It makes sense to me, and helps me understand the various moving parts that contribute to . . . living my best life.  Over the next couple of months, I plan to do a kind of "deep dive" into each dimension to examine how my own activities, habits, etc. measure up.  I want to figure out which dimensions are working well for me -- and which could use a bit more attention.

How about YOU?  When you look at the six dimensions, where do you think you're doing the best?  And - just off the top of your head - where do you think you might need to pay more attention in your own life?

[The National Wellness Institute states that "wellness is a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential."  Hmmmmm . . . sounds kind of intentional now, doesn't it?]


Don't forget to check out this month's Stash Giveaway.  Comment by Friday if you're interested!