To many avid fitness enthusiasts (myself included) walking just seems like a non-thing. It’s not exercise, it’s a mode of transport. A way to get from A to B. How could you possibly work up a sweat from that?!
Well, what if I told you that it’s not all about sweating it out.
I honestly used to think walking was the average lazy joe’s method of staying active. Cruel, I know but I had spent 3 years running my butt off to get in better shape and then another 2 years competing in a highly active sport. If you weren’t dead from training it simply wasn’t enough. And with my husband around the only walking I ever did was uphill (in the rain, backwards, barefoot). Aaaaand I live in a little town in the west of Ireland so walking around was just how I got around. So it never felt like a proper way to stay active (though come on, that’s how they did it in the fifties).
But over the last few months I’ve had a few Sunday afternoons to myself and the weather wasn’t being a dickhead (when, you’re asking but trust me). And instead of doing some intense shit and then vegging on the couch (and also trying desperately to avoid packing – we’ve just moved by the way) I decided to stick on a podcast (My Favourite Murder anyone?) and just head out into the countryside. Either up a little hill, through some woodlands or down by the lake. I would head out for an hour or two and comeback feel fresh and alive and happy. (That’s me out walking in the snow up above BTW)
And it got me thinking about what are the benefits of walking. So I did a little digging…
Sometimes it may not seem like it but heading out for a stroll is doing wonders for your body. Walking does way more for you than just reducing fat. It increases heart and lung fitness (always good) and it reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. How about strengthening your bones and improving your balance? Yes it does that. Or helping to manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes? Absolutely!
As Elle Woods once said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives your endorphins, endorphins make you happy, Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” This ring true for all forms of exercise, including walking. A brisk 30 minute walk elevate your mood no end. From your chemical makeup changing in your brain to make you less irritable, to exposing yourself to natural sunlight helping to reduce the effect of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It also can be a wonderful social activity, killing two birds with one stone. Yay for friends and endorphins!
Good for the mind
I found this quite true for me. If you go for a walk by yourself (be it with headphones or without) your mind does wander. You think, you understand, you plan, you solve There’s no judgement, no friends or family to distract you, no deadlines and certainly no PBs. Just the breeze and a world of endless possibilities. There’s nothing else to do out there but move forward. Creativity flows from it. I have found it a great way to get out of myhead and then back into it again.
So if you’re like me and always felt that exercise needed to be this sweaty, red ball of grit and energy and constantly ppfft at the concept of going for a walk, try stretching those legs the next time we get a good day. It doesn’t have to be somewhere beautiful, it doesn’t have to be some big Sunday outing, it doesn’t have to be insta worthy. It doesn’t even have to be for very long. You might be surprised what you get out of it.
I am bad at getting out of bed.
It’s not that I am not a morning person (my husband is not a morning person, his whole family are not morning people. Makes me fell like I am super duper good at getting up!) Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, it’s not that I am not a morning person, it’s just so hard. Hard to move and greet the day when my bed is so lovely and warm and so very very safe. But it means every morning I hit the snooze button one too many times and then I am rushing around to get into work, which is only a 3 minute cycle so that will tell you how close I cut it!
I don’t like this. I want to use my mornings more. I want a morning routine that has a purpose other than get into to work without being noticeably tardy. I want to do some light yoga, read my book, do a crossword in bed, have a relaxing cup of tea maybe get some laundry sorted before the bustling begins.
And since the new year I have tried to make this happen by downloading apps for activities in the morning, by setting a bajillion alarms, by actually going to bed a little bit earlier. But nooooooooooooooooooooooo. I’m still motherfuppin’ sleeping till I need to get gone! I mean, I’m sort of awake but there is this little voice that says ‘sssssh, no, stay here,” or better yet comes up with really good reasons for staying in bed longer. Like, “I don’t neeeeeeed to wash my hair, it’s better for my hair if I don’t,” or another classic “I don’t want to disturb Cormac too much with my moving around, best stay in bed.” This morning I convinced myself (very easily) that 20 minutes of light yoga was simply too much in the morning if one isn’t used to it. That I best snooze for another 15 before getting up to do an nice introductory 5 minutes of stretching and yoga. Did I get up for the 5 minutes of stretching and yoga? Of course not! And I would love to say this is because it’s all dark and wintery but I am just as useless in the summer time!
This has got to stop.
How am I meant to conquer the world and succeed in my goals if I can’t even get out of bed?
This isn’t a “how to” blog post. I haven’t figured this out yet. This is a “help me” blog post. I’m reaching out to you, Bitchmitten readers. HELP ME! Any tips would be appreciated. Any sage advice will be taken. Any words of wisdom will be welcomed. Or are ye all the same as me? Struggling to get out of bed, wishing to hold on to those precious warm sheets, those perfect fluffy pillows. Or are you on the flip side and think I’m a crazy wagon for wanting to get out of bed sooner. Maybe I should be grateful with how my mornings go. I’m sure there are people who wish they had no other reason to get up than to just make it in to work on time, but they have a dog to walk, kids to get to school, a 7am train to catch.
And maybe I am mad, but I’d like to get up. I feel if I could get up and control my morning that I can do anything else that day throws at me.
I’m a scaredy cat…
This is not new information. I don’t like ‘dangerous’ things. Dangerous things being jumping off a wall or playing skipping rope with my 4 year old nephew. I could never understand thrill seekers. Adrenaline junkies. What’s wrong with you?! What’s wrong with being comfy and warm and SAFE!
Well I married an adrenaline junkie.
And now we share hobbies… But guess who won’t learn to crochet?!
So I’m on a mountain bike every so often and this is what I’ve learned about cycling and funnily enough about life.
Don’t brake too much. You spend all your time when mountain biking pedalling like fuck up some shitty incline and then bombing it back down at an unnatural speed. With twists and turns and bumps and branches and bog and wild boars coming at you! If you’re a scaredy cat like me that sounds like a lesson in torture. Let’s burn your legs getting to the top and make you cry like a baby to get back down. So what do I do? I brake. And what happens when I brake? Well many things actually.
My husband is getting away from me
What’s the point in mountain biking with my husband if I’m not anywhere near him? Seriously?! He’s gone! Like the wind Bullseye! How is it ever any fun if I am spending my whole time catching up? And how is it any fun for him if he’s spending his whole time waiting? And I felt this was true for life as well. What’s the point of being with him if I’m not with him. I need to keep moving forward with our lives, staying in the moment but always looking forward, not hanging back because I don’t know what to expect. Because I think I’ll fail. Life’s too short for such bullshit. Be there, with him. Always.
I risk skidding/falling/failing
You’d think that when you feel you’re going to fast you should hit the brakes. False. First time I hit the brakes mountain biking I went straight over the handle bars, landing face first into some mulch and cutting my lip. Second time I broke, I skidded hard, panicked and fell. I could go on but really all you need to know that braking in a panicked state usually leads to me being a pile of embarrassed and bruised bones. When I tried to ‘let go’ and stopped grappling for the brakes I noticed I was grand, a little watery-eyed from the wind but grand. Didn’t fall off, over, under, break myself and cry all the way home… I was shitting it but I was physically grand. I think this can be adopted for life. Don’t try and predict the unexpected by stopping before you even begin, embrace the wind in your eyes and the risk you could fail, because how else will you succeed!
I lose trust in my bike
I am convinced she is gonna fall apart the moment we hit a certain speed. (Yes of course my bike is a she!) She’s not gonna… I need to believe in that bike. I need to work with that bike. I need to trust the bikes and the people around me and work with what I’ve got in life!
I lose trust in myself
How can I ever succeed if I never even try. I am big one for backing away from tricky tasks for risk of failure or I am just too afraid of bad outcomes, mountain biking is no exception. Self belief in your worth and your abilities is so important and it’s something people really struggle with. If I can trust in myself and my abilities to control that bike, I won’t need to brake, you know until I actually need to brake. And if can do that, well that’s the first step in believing in myself in general. Surely…
I don’t truly reap the rewards
Like I said in the beginning, you spend so much time working really hard at mountain biking. Pushing up those hills, cursing your tired legs, feeling like your cycling through hummus. Why waste all that effort on being too afraid to really jump in when you’ve earned your reward? Why let fear stop you when you know it’s ok, why let fear stop even if you don’t. Even if I fall off and hurt myself, cycle into bogland and end up covered in brown, it’s an experience. One I can learn from, one I can live with. Not trying is worse.
That got deep! Sorry about that but you have a surprisingly a lot of time to think when you’re cycling.
I critique my brother-in-law a lot… Some say it’s bullying but it’s merely critiquing, advising if you will.
‘Stop drinking that cup of custard!”
‘Why did buy those OLD MAN SHOES?!’
YOU CAN’T JUST HATE SIGOURNEY WEAVER!! (!!!!)
I do it because I love him and because I want him to be and have the best.
But one thing I have never critiqued him on was his choice in a wife, a partner in crime, a best friend, Clo.
I remember the first time we met, I picked you and the boys up in my teeny Clio to bring you on an adventure to Glendalough. Along the winding roads, as the boys complained in my choice of playlist (there was a lot of Glee at the time!) you sang with me, over their complaints. We giggled, we whispered, the boys were afraid. They saw it as a bad thing. How could it be? From that day one we became closer and closer. A bond had formed. More like sisters than friends, we’d make breakfast together, go for long walks, lie on top of one another on our in-laws couches (don’t know how John felt about that), pushed each other to strive for great achievements, competed with each other in our own little ways and would discuss (on the daily) both our strongly similar and contrasting opinions on life. And as we grew up together (which we did, we were only babies when we met) we developed into our own personalities. As your hair got shorter, mine got longer. As you became a big city dweller, I moved further and further in the wild Irish countryside. But the bond remained. And although there are times when we both think we’re mad, there is one thing we both agree on. Our boys and just how important they are.
I am so lucky (and relieved) to have you as my partner in the life of being with the Ryan boys. They are both beautifully easy going and hard work all at the same time. To have you through all the good stuff and all the shitty stuff that will happen in our life time as a family. For you to be the aunt to my children (their cool aunt who speaks many languages, has blonde hair and hops around Europe and beyond). For you to laugh with me as the boys create yet another competition for themselves. For you to make me real french toast as everyone else sleeps. For you to be the logical mind to my rambling one. For you to be my sister.
Because you act just like my other sisters do ( big up to Karen and Clare!)
So on this day, just under a month to your wedding. Before the throngs of family come to hug and kiss you and shake your hand warmly. Before my husband descends on you and cracks your back with one of his bear hugs, before our mother-in-law makes us weep with yet another beautiful speech and before your fiancé cries (and he will) as you walk down the aisle. I want to be the first to welcome you into the family, the family you have always been a member of.