Okay. So I was on my exercise bike the other day pedalling, listening to an audio book, and leafing through magazines and I came across an article in an old issue of Shape magazine. About making exercise fun. The benefits of looking at exercise as something enjoyable. And I started thinking about how I exercise. And how I discovered many years ago that I need to be entertained while I exercise. Doing something fun while I exercised eventually changed my attitude towards it. I used to think of exercising as a chore; now I look forward to it. I simply needed an attitude adjustment.
The article in Shape cites a study which found that when we look at exercise as fun instead of a chore, we benefit not only from the exercise but also from what follows. Apparently we eat fewer treats afterward. Researchers said they believe that “when you frame your workout in terms of the effort it requires, you may search for ‘compensation’ in the form of food. But when you view exercise as an enjoyable part of your day, you’re less likely to turn to treats as a reward.” Huh. That’s pretty cool, I’d say.
But aside from the added benefit of not eating snacks afterward, changing our mindset about exercise can get us out there moving our bodies. That’s the main thing as far as I’m concerned. One very difficult year at school, when I had huge classes, including two rambunctious grade ten classes of 34 and 36 students, I remember cherishing my exercise time. I’d take my running gear to school and run on my lunch hour. Besides the actual running, listening to music on my headphones and getting outside really helped, giving me a much needed thirty or forty minutes of alone time. Time where I didn’t obsess over my classes. That semester, I never once thought, “I have to go for my run.” I always thought, “Thank god I get to go for my run, today.”
I remember one day many years later when Erica, a young colleague, was heading home from work. She trudged to the door, shoulders slumped, saying, “I have to go for my run when I get home.” And in my best older colleague, pedantic voice I replied, “Now, now, none of that. You should say, “I GET to go for my run.”‘ A few days later, as she trudged off home, she said, “When I get home, I have to…” Then she stopped, glanced over at me, and sighed. “When I get home I GET to go for my run.” And she rolled her eyes. Okay, I don’t think we made any headway there in attitude adjustment. Ha. I guess it doesn’t work with everyone.
But I wonder now that Erica has two small boys at home, and has been teaching her classes from home, and wrangling her students on-line for three months, if she feels any different about “getting to go for her run.” Hmm. I must remember to ask her.
Some exercise, though, is hard to view as anything but a chore. Like sitting on an exercise bike. That’s why I distract myself with something fun. Like listening to audio books, and searching for new haircuts and make-up for women with white hair on Pinterest. And since the pandemic, I’ve also been making phone calls when I’m on the bike. Checking in with my sisters or with friends. One day when my sister and I fell into discussing clothes, I pedalled way longer than I’d intended. Now why doesn’t that surprise you?
And a couple of weeks ago, when walking by myself or with Hubby began to get a bit same-y, I resuming my weekly walks with a friend. Albeit, physically distanced walks. Walking with a buddy, who is NOT my husband, worked wonders for my mental state. Partly because yakking can be sooo comforting. Partly because we could discuss our respective partners with whom we’d been locked down for months. And funnily enough, each time we’ve walked, we’ve overshot our turning spot on the trail because we’ve been so intent on our conversation. I think I mentioned in a previous post, the last time we walked, we looked around and said, “Where the heck are we?” Ha.
And thinking about my attitude adjustment with respect to exercise, or changing up my exercise which then changed my attitude, lead me to think about the whole growing out my roots thing. How my white roots were such an affront to me two months ago. But since I’ve started playing with hair styles, and make-up, and wardrobe choices the whole thing has become kind of fun. My mindset changed. And thus my attitude towards my natural colour became less, uh, combative. Ha.
So, I seem to be on a number of journeys this year, of mindset change and attitude adjustment. I guess, in many ways, we all are. And I began to wonder where else in my life I needed an attitude adjustment.
Of course the Black Lives Matter movement and the on-going protests have triggered an examination of my attitudes towards racial inequality. And started me on a journey of education and hopefully better understanding. But I’ll get back to you on all that at a later date. I’ve barely begun that journey.
I chatted with my sister on the phone today about the idea behind this post. And she said she’s been on a sort of attitude adjustment journey herself since the pandemic began. About her own life. About retirement. And about taking better care of herself, not putting everyone and everything before herself. She said she had taken a break while cleaning their bathrooms, to call me today. I guess our chat was her treat, so to speak.
“Ah… cleaning,” I said. “Now that’s where I really need an attitude adjustment.” As you might know if you’ve been reading my blog for while. I hate cleaning. Really, really hate it. And what makes that problematic is that I hate mess almost as much. I tidy every morning, but put off the actual cleaning as long as I can. I wrote a couple of posts about this years ago. And someone suggested a blog called Fly Lady. One thing the lady said that stuck with me is that we can do anything for fifteen minutes. Even if we hate it.
So I tried that. Doing a little bit of cleaning each day. And it worked for a while. Except the darned cleaning was never done! I never had the “thank god that’s done and I don’t have to do it again for a while” feeling. I’ve tried listening to my audio books while I clean. And that alleviates some of the pain. But not enough. I tried stopping for breaks, a cup of tea, and a bit of a read. That works okay, especially if Hubby is golfing and is out of the house for hours and hours. I can be as slow as I like, without him interrupting me. I can leave the vacuum in the middle of the floor and sit with my book and tea for twenty minutes or so, then sigh and go back at it.
I’ll tell you people, I am such a drama queen when it comes to cleaning. I groan and moan and sigh when I have to do it. Silently, of course. And you know what I’ve decided? I don’t need an attitude adjustment here. I’m pretty good at changing my mindset over some things. But no way, no how am I ever going to be able to convince myself that cleaning is enjoyable. I simply need a house cleaner. I need to hire someone to clean my house. Period.
Yep. The search starts today.
Phew. That felt good.
So now it’s your turn my friends. Are you in need of any attitude adjustments? Any un-fun chores that you have convinced yourself can be fun?