Tag Archives: walking

My Morning Walk Productivity Dilemma

I hate to admit it, because I love my morning walks, but I’m having a productivity dilemma because of them.

I’ve discovered that early mornings are really good for both my creativity and my productivity. While I’m sitting there with my coffee, I’ve been getting so many ideas I have to keep my idea journal at hand. And a lot of the ideas I get make me want to go, go, go—get things done, tick things off the to-do list. That whole rah rah rah I’m productive thing that, frankly, I hardly ever felt until recently when I started getting up early to go for my walks.

So the problem? I finish up my coffee, and go for my walk. I have a great time while walking, and sometimes I even stop somewhere for fifteen minutes or so and get some meditation in. But when I get back, that whole productive feeling is gone. Pufffft. Nowhere in sight.

I figure there are a couple of solutions:

1. I should spend the first couple of hours after waking up sitting at my desk and writing and working, and then go for my walk.

2. I can try taking my walk at night instead.

The problem with solution #1 is, now that it’s summer, things start getting hot around nine o’clock, and I really really really don’t like walking outside when it’s hot.

The problem with solution #2 is I can have all the best intentions of walking later in the day, but the way things work around here is, stuff (as in the general “stuff” of life) always comes up and before I know it, it’s pretty late and I need to be heading to bed, not going out for an hour-long walk.

Sadly, there’s really only one solution, if I want to continue my morning walks and also make use of this newly found productive/creative time in the mornings.

I have to get up even earlier than I have been getting up. Somewhere in the vicinity of 6:00 a.m., which to me seems like quite an ungodly time of day. But if I can manage to do that, I can actually write/work for two whole hours, while also leisurely drinking my coffee, and still be out and about for my walk before it gets too hot.

Not sure if I can do it, though. But I’ll definitely give it a try!

A Rather Eerie Sight This Morning

On Friday mornings I do my morning walk with my friend Christy. It rained this morning, so we decided to stay on the sidewalk rather than along the Harbourfront, and walk farther west on Toronto’s Queen’s Quay than we normally do.

And that’s when we came across a little park on the waterfront called Ireland Park.

It was a cloudy, wet morning, and these statues in the park came as something of a surprise to both of us.

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Quite the eerie sight! I’m glad I was there with Christy; there was no-one else around, and the air had that thickness to it you often get when it rains. Queue some scary music and a bit of fog, and I would have been out of there like a shot. But since Christy is one of those comforting, practical people you’d want to have with you in a haunted house, I stayed and even took pictures.

So of course I had to look up “Ireland Park” when I got home. It turns out Ireland Park is a memorial to the 38,000 Irish immigrants who came to Canada in 1847 to escape famine; more than 1,000 of them died that summer.

The statues are by artist Rowan Gillespie, and there are similar statues on Dublin’s quay side.

There is also a large limestone wall, which was shipped from Ireland. The names of those who died are engraved on it. According to Robert Kearns, the chair of the Ireland Park Foundation, “It represents the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland, the last sight seen by emigrants leaving home. The names of the dead are engraved on the gaps in the wall. The park is really a cemetery without bodies, for the people who didn’t make it.”

Yes, it was definitely a very interesting walk today!

Sunday Morning Walk: Meditation (sort of), Observations, and Distractions

I’ve been loving my morning walks, but one thing that’s gotten shifted to the side as a result is my meditation. My mornings are now so full, and when I get back from my walk, I’m just not feeling in the meditation spirit.

So this morning I decided to try a walking meditation. A friend of mine had sent me this YouTube meditation, which she highly recommended:

So I thought I’d give it a try today, while I was walking. As soon as I finished the running portion of my walk (I’m up to, oh, maybe five minutes now?) I slipped on my earbuds and played the meditation.

It’s a beautiful meditation, but it turned out I just can’t do the walk and meditate thing. After fifteen minutes, I absolutely had to stop and sit, so that I could finish the meditation. I found a beautiful spot where I could watch the waves come in, and the final fifteen minutes were really lovely.

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On my way back, I let myself observe everything the way I normally do on my walks (when I’m not trying to meditate). No wonder I found it so hard to meditate while I was walking!

There are so many people out and about along Toronto’s Harbourfront. One of the things I love doing is people watching, and it turns out I spend a lot of my walking time doing that.

And the distractions? Well, on my way back, a bird divebombed me. It felt like it landed on my head and immediately took off again. When I got home I made everyone check my head to make sure I didn’t have a bird scratch or two on  my scalp.

It’s a good thing I haven’t been reading du Maurier’s “The Birds” at the time, or I probably would have run all the way back home.

 

Snapshot: May 26, 2015

Time: 8:08 p.m.

Feeling: Pretty good – yay! This early morning walking has really been making a difference. I love it, and I feel so energized for much of the day. Mind you, I end up going to bed earlier than normal, but that’s a good thing, since it’s something I’ve been trying to accomplish for a while now.

Eating: I’ve got spinach and ricotta sausages in the oven. Will pair them with stir fried cabbage and stir fried spinach.

Drinking: Water! Loving my water. But also looking forward to my nightly glass of Malbec.

Reading: Lots of things! I’ve been peckishly bookish all day—ever have that, when you find yourself jumping from book to book? So I’ve basically read a little bit of everything I’ve got going.

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Sped through the first part of Andrew Pyper’s The Damned this afternoon. Very readable, although things kind of slowed down a bit towards the end of part I. I’ll probably finish this one fairly quickly, as long as it picks up speed again.

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I’m also reading Disclaimer, by Renée Knight, for a book tour scheduled for next week. The story is compelling. The writing? Not so much. Still quite readable though.

Listening: I finished Jurassic Park in audio last week, so I moved on to Lost World this week. Unfortunately, I fell asleep while listening to it the other night, so a whole lot of rewinding is in order. My falling asleep while listening to it shouldn’t be held against it—I was just really, really tired that night (all that walking, right?) So far, though, it’s as interesting as I remembered.

Writing: Well, I’ve been thinking about it, so that counts, right?

Working: Finished off an indexing deadline last night, and have four articles to write this week and next, but otherwise the deadlines are light. Which is great because it gives me time to work on the book marketing stuff for Booktrope. And I still have to create a website and Twitter account for that particular hat.

Exercise: I’ve now gone for my early morning walk five days in a row! I’m really really excited and pleased and happy about this new routine. The best part is, I’m even sneaking in some running!

I don’t love running enough to wake up in the morning eager to go for a run, but walking’s a totally different thing. So what I’ve been doing is running just a little bit when I start my walk—and when I say a little, I mean a little! Like, maybe two minutes! Okay, I might be up to three minutes by now. What I’m doing is going just a tiny bit further every day. Building up my stamina bit by bit. Eventually I’d love to be running for half of my walking hour, but I’m quite willing to take it slow.

Saturday Random: Walking Gear, Anyone?

Time for a bit of self-congratulations (or should that be self-congratulation?): I went for another walk today, first thing in the morning! So that’s two for two, right? Fifty-seven minutes and one more tick on the ole habit chart. With any luck I’ll be able to say, “Yay! New walking habit firmly established!” once I add another 64 ticks to the habit chart (because science tells us it takes 66 days to create a new habit, rather than the 21 days of myth).

So now that I’m thinking I may be on my way to daily exercise via walking, I’ve also been pondering all the gear I need. And you thought all one needed for walking was a pair of good shoes, right?

Well, okay, that’s true, but the consumerist in me wants a bit of fun, too. (Confession: the consumerist in me often wants a bit of fun.)

I already bought a bigger walking pouch yesterday; I could barely squeeze my phone and my keys into the old one I had. The bigger pouch lets me carry a small bottle of contact lens solution plus a lens case (in case something gets into my eyes), my sunglasses (which I don’t like to wear but if I’m walking past construction sites with mounds of dirt I need them on to keep stuff from flying into my eyes … are you noticing a trend here?); my earbuds, my debit card (for, you know, in case I get thirsty for an iced decaf Americano or get the munchies) and a loonie and a toonie—for non-Canadians, the Canadian dollar coin and two-dollar coin (for places that don’t take debit cards).

So what’s on my want list, you’re wondering? (I’m sure it’s more likely you’re thinking, what on earth else do you want to lug around with you, Belle?) No worries. I’m feeling only a little bit consumerist, so there are just a couple of things on my list.

First, I’d like a wide-brimmed a sun visor because unfortunately, when I get too much sun on my face my freckles now like to multiply into brown spots, even when I’m wearing zinc oxide sunscreen. My baseball cap doesn’t have a wide enough brim to do the trick of shading more than just my eyes. I do have a big floppy straw hat but I look kind of ridiculous wearing it with my t-shirt and workout pants. Plus it tends to fly off when things get even a little windy.

Second, I’d like a bottle to hold my water, with a handy dandy wrist strap. So much better than carrying bottled water (more environmentally friendly, too). Plus, as I know already from my walk today, it means I won’t have to juggle holding a water bottle plus a decaf Americano while trying to fish my keys out of my walking pouch. (I have no willpower when I smell coffee.)

I’m also thinking about trying one of these walking apps, too. Luckily, they all seem to be free for the basic versions.

Not that I’m going to let the lack of these things deter me from developing a new morning walking habit. Which is a good thing, because I’m the kind of consumerist who likes to add things to her want list but doesn’t like to actually head out to the stores to find and buy them. (It’s the “find” part that puts even the consumerist in me off.)

Now that I think about it, though, a Fitbit would be nice, too. And easily available online …

Do you like to go for long walks? What’s your favourite walking gear?

So I Said Those Fateful Words Today …

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I managed to get up bright and early for my walk with my friend Christy—I actually woke up before my alarm was supposed to go off! And while 7:15 a.m. probably sounds like a normal wake-up time to a lot of people, I can’t remember the last time I was up so early in the day, as in up and about and doing things like, you know, moving around.

We met at 8:10 a.m. and walked together for a little over an hour. Then I race walked the ten minutes it took me to get home. It’s just a little after 10:30 a.m. right now and I am absolutely bursting with energy!

It was SO much fun, we’ve decided to meet up every Friday morning. Plus I want to walk every morning, so I’m planning on walking by myself all the other days, too. This energy I’m feeling is just amazing!

But for Christy, our walk today was really later than she’d like. She runs a food business and usually has meetings scheduled on Friday mornings.

So yes, as we were discussing  meeting up next Friday, I said those fateful words.

“Why, yes, I can meet you at 7:15 am on Fridays.”

I know, right? I ACTUALLY SAID THIS.

But you know what? I think I can do it. I really think I can start getting up at 6:30 am.

But just in case, if you all could send early-morning-wakefulness vibes my way, it would be much appreciated.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Walking plans

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Going out for dinner with a healthy friend can be a little dangerous. You end up getting excited about things and then suddenly you find you’ve just committed to something that will require you to get up much earlier than you normally do.

That’s what happened to me tonight. I was having dinner with my friend Christy and she started telling me about this Harvard article she’d read which listed a bunch of studies about how good walking is for you. One study found that walking a mile a day reduced risks of cardiovascular events by 81%.

I’ve been wanting to start getting fit again, and I really enjoy walking. So I asked her how much walking she’s been doing. It turns out, lately it’s been quite a lot—8 kilometres, which translates to approximately five miles.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about adding more exercise to my life, and since Christy is the kind of person who always makes me feel motivated or inspired about something whenever I see her, I blurted out, “We should go walking together!”

And that’s how it all started. At first we thought we’d pick a midway point between us, and walk there so we could do more walking together before we walked back. But Christy lives across the city from me, which would make for a lot of walking for a getting-back-into-fitness walker like me.

She also bikes everywhere, too, though. So we’ve decided we’ll start by having her bike to where I am, and I’d meet her for a nice long walk, and then she’d bike back home.

It sounded good to me. I like planning things. It’s just when you start putting, well, you know, dates on plans that things get a little scary.

I was just about to get on the streetcar to head back home after dinner when she said, “We should pick a day to start. How about this Friday?”

I looked back at her, panic in my eyes. She laughed. “Okay, how about next Friday?”

So I now have two weeks to get used to waking up early, since Christy needs to be finished her morning exercise by 8:30 in the morning so she can start in on her work. I know I can handle the walking, it’s the waking up early bit that scares me. I’ve written before about my quest to become a morning person, but I haven’t made such great strides in that direction yet.  This walking commitment is definitely motivation to get there!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Walking Around While Reading

During the Readathon, someone tweeted about doing some reading while walking around, to gain some energy and beat back sleepiness (I’m not sure who it was—I tweeted so much during the Readathon there are too many tweets to check!).

Since I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting into healthier habits, I found this idea of walking around when you’re reading sticking with me. It makes a lot of sense, because I’m the kind of person who likes to walk around the place when I’m talking on the phone.

Of course it’s not something you can really do all that well when you’re outside, but inside is a whole different story, right?

So tonight I put the idea to the test—and it works! The first Dune readalong Twitter chat is happening tonight and I wanted to get a few more pages read so I can hopefully participate (but I’m not sure if I’ve read enough yet).

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I was able to read about twenty pages while walking back and forth from my office through the ilving room to the kitchen (this is an open concept place, which made it even easier).

The best thing? Before I gave it a try, I was sitting on the sofa reading, and feeling quite tired. But now? I actually feel refreshed!

I should probably get a Fitbit and track how much time I spend walking around while reading …

Do you walk or do other exercise when you’re reading a book? Have any tips for me?

{2015 Goals} Exercise

There’s going to be a lot of feasting going on over the next week or so. I’m looking forward to it, but I already know there’s another habit I’ll really need to get back into when the new year rolls around.

The last half of this year hasn’t been good for me in terms of exercise. I exercise sporadically enough as it is, with the bulk of my “workouts” being walks. For most of this year, I walked a LOT. Toronto is a very walkable city, and I found myself walking at least half an hour every day.

The library? Twenty minute walk there, twenty minutes back.

I was just about to invest in a Fitbit when I pinched a nerve in my lower back early in September. It took about two weeks to heal, but during those two weeks, my body decided to learn some bad habits. Beyond the six week mark, I continued to have lower back pain – not overly severe, just enough to make me give a second thought whenever I wanted to walk anywhere farther than a block.

Apparently, that’s a long time for a back ache to linger. It’s enough of a concern, there’s a special government program that deals specifically with back pain that lasts longer than six weeks. My doctor referred me to the program, which set me up with a physiotherapist. It was free, so I didn’t complain. I was given a series of exercises to build back the muscles that were no longer working the way they should. There were, apparently, a number of them that’d decided to stop doing the things they did best. The physiotherapist had me lie on my side and lift one leg, and she showed me the hip muscle that should have moved but didn’t – my calf muscle was doing all the work, and that was a big no no. And my butt muscles? Apparently they’d decided to hibernate.

Anyway, walking was out, other than any necessary short distances. I had to reteach my muscles to do what they do best.  So for the past few months, I’ve been using a Metropass, which lets me ride public transit anywhere I need to go. And doing the prescribed exercises somewhat sporadically. But the good news is, that muscle that didn’t move when it should have? It’s moving! Not a whole lot, but it’s getting there.

I’m determined not to have this happen again. So in 2015, I’m going to start exercising again. Not just walking, but really exercising. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll be doing, but I’m hoping to make it an every day thing.

Photo 2014-12-22, 5 47 12 PMJust a sample of the exercise DVDs I’m not using right now

I have a ton of exercise DVDs which I never seem to put to much use. And my friend Janel has, in the past, offered me the link to her playlist of YouTube exercise  videos. My daughter swears by someone (can’t remember her name offhand) who does ten minute exercises on YouTube that are really tough. So many choices! Surely out of all this exercise bounty I’ll be able to get back into shape.

What are your exercise plans for the new year? Do you have any favourite exercise DVDs or YouTube videos?