After pushing myself really hard for a really long time, I decided to take a break from intense, rigorous exercise. But I couldn’t bear the thought of being completely inactive, so I established a rule: I’d go for a 45-minute walk every day, and that’s it. Read more about the reasons behind the break – and my fears – here.
Today marks the two week anniversary of the beginning of my break. The first week was tough. There were lots of fears of everything would unravel, but they’ve largely gone away. I’m stronger than I realize.
I’ve been diligent with my walking. I’ve gone on 13 walks, and taken one rest day. Those walks have averaged 49 minutes, 41 seconds, during which I’ve walked an average of 2.61 miles – I did the math, because I’m a nerd. D’uh. Last night I did my only non-walk workout so far: an exercise class, led by my friend Anne, and I went to see her on her birthday, and go out to dinner afterward with a big group of friends.
The walks have been lovely. All have been outdoors, and most have been in my own neighborhood. I’ve used them to complete a couple errands (pick up something at the store, drop off shoes to be repaired), explored some areas that I wasn’t very familiar with, and gotten back into podcasts, which are perfect to listen to while walking. “My Favorite Murder” is my current favorite, although I just downloaded a few new ones that I hope to add into the rotation.
The walks satisfy my need to stretch my legs and get a little activity without being very taxing, but what I’m really enjoying is the mental break. I know I’ll be walking every day, so I just tie my shoes and go. I don’t need to always be thinking two or three days ahead, planning how to balance my endurance cardio with HIIT workouts with lifting weights, plus looking at class schedules and juggling it all with my other daily responsibilities.
Nope, I can just walk!
I thought that maybe this exercise break would free up some energy that I could use to create new healthy recipes or seek out new-to-me produce items, but those desires haven’t surfaced. In fact, I wish I could say that I’ve been coupling these walks with really excellent eating, but that’d only be a partial truth, because some days have been great, and others, not so much.
I made a lot of Cheetos jokes in the last post about this break, and guess what? I’ve eaten Cheetos. On two occasions. Too many of them to fall under the “everything is OK in moderation” rule. And I’ve eaten a pint of ice cream in one sitting, too. And on another day I bought and ate one of those new Hershey’s Gold bars, because I’ve been inundated by ads for it for months. And it was King-Size. And it was delicious.
But my eating hasn’t been a complete free-for-all, it’s just been looser than normal, and part of this break is forgiving myself for my mistakes (instead of beating myself up), so I’m trying to be kind to myself and just get back to making healthy choices. Which I’ve been pretty good at doing, at least for a few days, until the next little dalliance with junk food happens.
Even though I’m making food choices I might not otherwise make, I feel more secure that this break won’t result in me gaining back all the weight or reverting to all my old habits, because 1) I’m walking. 2) I’m still blogging. I’ve always used this blog as a tool in my quest to take care of myself.
I still don’t know how long this little break will last. I’m listening to my body and waiting for cues, although I don’t know exactly what they will be. A desire to start ramping up the workouts? An urge to look into future races? Starting to feel bored about my walks?
For now, I’m not worried about it. I was flipping through my calendars, and I haven’t chosen to take a break like this for years. I’ve been forced to take breaks, because of injury, but even those ended as soon as possible, with a full return to intense exercise the moment I was able to. This break is unprecedented, and it’s clear that it’s what I needed. Although I was hesitant at the beginning to enjoy it, the truth is that I am.
Keep it up, David!