Lately, my butt-to-chair-seat ratio has gotten a bit too high, so when the clouds cleared this morning I pushed myself out the door for a walk. Especially for those of us who have gotten out of the regular exercise habit, it may take awhile to feel light enough to actually enjoy exercise for its own sake. So here are a few of my tricks to help you get out the door.
Tip #1: Donate your car - I did this last year, so my only choice to run errands is my own two feet (although I do sometimes hop the bus or nab a Zipcar for a big grocery run - or when I'm packing a large kitty litter bag home). It doesn't take long before you get pretty good at gauging how much you can comfortably carry for 15 blocks or so; although sometimes the bags that feel light when you leave the store are mighty heavy a few blocks in. The Sunday paper is surprisingly heavy!
Tip #2: If you love a good restaurant meal, like I do, choose a restaurant that is a good 30 minute walk away, preferrably in the opposite direction from some other errand you need to run. Today I walked 20 minutes in one direction for some excellent bacon pancakes, then had a 30 minute walk in the other direction to the library. Even better, I picked up four books that were on hold for me, so my bag was heavier walking home than leaving. Just to make sure my lungs really got working, I headed down the hill from the library so when I reached my street I was forced to climb a very steep hill before I could get home and suck down some water.
There are some streets in my neighborhood that have tiny concrete steps cut into the sidewalk - when you see one of these you know that hill is too darned steep to climb. If you need sandpaper on your shoes to keep from rolling down to the bottom, just keep walking until you find one that's a good climb but won't threaten bodily injury on the way to the top.
When I'm planning to go to a movie and have popcorn, and you know I'm going to have popcorn at the movie, I walk to the theater at least one direction. I do mostly go to see movies at indie movie theaters not just because they have interesting movies, but they have the best popcorn. Life is too short to eat that chain theater popcorn that's too salty and has fake butter on it. If you're going to be sorry later that you ate all that fiber in one sitting, it better at least be tasty in the first place.
I do prefer to get my exercise out in the fresh air, looking at my neighbors' gardens (we have great gardeners in Seattle), talking to the cats and dogs who come out to say howdy, and listening to my tunes on my ipod. I have actually been known to walk an extra block or two to finish an especially good tune.
Tip #3: Walk in one direction half as long as you want your walk to be, then you're forced to turn around and walk the same amount in order to get home. This is especially useful because the more you walk, the farther you have to walk to reach the same amount of time, so your exercise keeps increasing. Genius! I used to do this when I lived at the beach and if you walk with the wind at your back and turn around when you are already tired, you're walking into the wind all the way home. Now that's some good resistance.
So if you need to motivate yourself with a good meal at the end of a walk, you have my blessing. It's better than only taking the walk from your chair to the refrigerator and back (that isn't a very long walk at my house).