I have basically spent most of my life experimenting with ways to eat and live to improve my health and my weight. But now, with time to look back over the years, I can see what has worked to keep me fairly healthy isn’t the crazy diets and intense exercise, but the fact that I kept working on it. Basically, I didn’t give up, I kept trying to improve.
One of the areas I sort of forced myself into was the exercise movement. Back when Jane Fonda said “feel the burn”, and the running culture started, I tried it all. (If you are too young and missed those horrendous leotards and very short running shorts, you are lucky!) "Eat less and exercise more" was my mantra, sort of. I can’t say I was great all the time, or even most of the time, but I did what I could. At least I did the minimum.
Fast forward to now. My current learning aspect is about movement, and lack of movement. As a massage therapist, I spend my days working with people whose lack of movement for most of their day has set them up for injury when they do move. I have been learning restorative exercises to help people that spend their day sitting, but want to be comfortable when they do want to garden, go for a walk, or go bowling. During this learning process, I have been able to see another secret to my health at my age is that I had to move at least a little every day for most of my life, just because I knew that if I didn’t I would struggle even more with my weight.
There is a movement currently gaining popularity with the paleo diet; people are looking at how humans would have moved when we spent more time in nature. If you want a treat, check out this video: The Workout the World Forgot. The idea being that even a hundred years ago, we would have moved a lot different than how we do today. As Western thinkers, this means we take those movements to the gym and try to duplicate them. Honestly, is diving into crystal clear water the same as jumping into a chlorine pool? Just like you wouldn’t expect to do a fabulous routine on the rings the first time you tried, don’t try running over rocks if you never go barefoot. My point is that we are so far removed from how ancient humans lived, we can’t just turn back the clock. I don't think we should just move it to the gym, either. What is great about movement in nature is nature. I probably won’t climb some amazing mountain, or swim daily in the ocean, but I can walk outside.
What would you rather do? Walk 3 miles on a treadmill or walk outside for an hour? You may meet your neighbors, you may get some fresh air. You may hate every step of it, but I bet if you started doing it more, you would find more to enjoy.
Thanks to a blog by Katy Bowman at nutritiousmovment.com, I have been inspired to spend more time outdoors. I started walking my dogs more, and going for longer walks with them. They are thrilled, and I usually enjoy every minute of it. Sometimes it takes everything I have to get out there; I have even walked when it was 27 degrees.
Giving Katy Bowman more credit, or blame, I also purchased some “minimal footwear”, or shoes that have lots of room for my toes, and a very flexible sole. I have had Vibram Five Fingers shoes for years now, and got them back out and have worn them when it wasn’t so cold. The idea is that being able to move all of the bones and joints in your feet to their full range is more natural to the way we were designed to move. Therefore, our bodies do better overall when we move the way we would more naturally move.
Try doing this on your kitchen floor:
- take off your shoes
- curl your toes and try to walk
- now, spread your toes out as far as you can, and walk
Which is easier? We are meant to walk with full motion of our toes. For most of our lives, our toes have been squished into shoes that don’t allow our toes to spread. This is the simple goal of the minimalist footwear community, to allow our feet to work all 33 joints, 26 bones and over 100 muscles in our feet the way they are supposed to move. Just like going barefoot.
You may not be inspired to join the minimalist shoe movement, or the barefoot running movement, but you can get outside and walk down the block in the morning or evening. You may even have a neighbor that would love to join you, or even a pet (besides a goldfish or turtle) that would love to join you.
You don’t have to start with five miles and be exhausted for the rest of the day. Start with a nice, relaxing walk for 15 or 30 minutes. See how that feels. Then you can just add some more time to that when you feel like doing that. You could even take a morning and an evening walk just for the fresh air. The nice thing about walking isn’t just that you are moving your body, but that you are NOT sitting inside on the couch. Not that you can’t sit on the couch, but we spend enough time doing that as it is.
Feel free to share this article with someone who may be inspired by it. Also, feel free to comment below and let me know if you are inspired to get outside and walk more.
To your health,