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Getting In Shape

A while back I blogged about a Bike Rally I did.

Someone commented that the story was inspiring, but then shared the challenges they have getting in shape.

One pilates class and they could barely walk for two days.

That suggests a couple of things.

First: Wow, congrats, you really took it on.

Second: Oh dear, that was too much.

Third: As long as you didn’t injure yourself, that pain is your body going, “Oh boy, I need to build more muscle.” Apparently our muscles actually get damaged, in a good way, by exercise that pushes the envelope.

The pain is your body saying, “Okay, don’t do that again. I’m going to repair the damage and add a bit more muscle so if you try that again you’ll be able to do it without damaging the muscle.”

And when you exercise again a few days later, the body does it again, “Okay, here’s some pain, so you stop, and I get to work building the muscle.

And by the way, it would help if you ate lots of protein, especially before bed, so I have raw material to work with.”

Can I Get In Shape?

At the bike rally When I started training for the bike rally I was 20 pounds overweight, and had enough muscle to be able to get up from my computer, get to the dining room table and then make it to bed.   

So there were times during the training when I was worried I’d have a heart attack.

Not at any specific moment that I can recall, just a kind of low grade, pervasive, “I can’t run up two flights of stairs without being out of breath, this could kill me!”  

The team leader who trained the group I was in told me I’d probably pass out before having a heart attack.

Since the recumbent bike would protect me, somewhat, in a fall, I rode on. Usually.  When it started to hurt or cramp or blister… I slowed or stopped.

It meant someone else had to hang back to wait for me, but they were great about it. I tried to make it worth their while by being funny, or asking questions and getting to know them.

Right now, I’m out of shape again, but we have started walking every day.

We did loops around the neighbourhood and then one day I said, “Let’s walk to Hortons.”

(Tim Horton’s is a chain of doughnut shops. More pervasive than any other chain in Canada. Where we’re living right now, there is one McDonald’s, one Wendy’s, no Burger King, one KFC and three Horton’s)  

And this town has about 10,000 people.  Anyway, it was going to be perhaps three miles there and back, which seemed intimidating, as the look Ava shot me suggested.  

I said, “If we get tired, we can call a cab and ride back.”  Good enough.

So we did it. There and back. Without taxi assistance.  I was surprised.

The next day we did it at a slightly faster pace. The third day we were too busy to walk. Same the fourth day. And then fifth. The sixth day we walked. The seventh was brisk. Then three more days of being too busy… And so on.

Every day we didn’t walk made it easier to avoid walking the next. Cause we’d forget how good it felt, how nice it was to talk and get some sunshine and Vitamin D.

I’d forget how much the walk cleared my head and helped me focus.

It was 40 minutes of walking, plus a bit longer if we had a doughnut… Okay, if I had a doughnut. Ava politely watched.

So I know I was losing 40 minutes of work time, but when I didn’t walk I wasted hours dithering, trying to decide, starting one thing then another. It more than made up for it.

So what I’m doing is reframing walking in my mind. If I thought of exercise as a luxury that would probably help me live to be 90 instead of 85 it wasn’t motivating. Ninety is still a long way away.  Though, with ADHD, tomorrow is a long way away.

If I created a better context, a more urgent one with a bigger, more immediate payoff, I’d walk.  

What do I mean by a bigger context? What’s bigger than five extra years of life?  For an ADDer, it’s not about how big it is, it’s about how soon it gets here.  Immediate payoffs.

8 Reasons I Walk

Instead of walking to ‘live longer’ I’m walking because:

  1. It gives us time to discuss the day, regroup, and get a ton done in the late afternoon.  Time which used to be useless because I’d be in overwhelm.
  1. It allows me time to think, plan, and brainstorm ideas which I can record onto my cell phone’s pocket recorder function.
  1. My wife and I get to be alone, talking.
  1. We pass by a lot of houses and we can talk about what we want in a home and what we don’t want since we’re looking for a new home.
  1. Because that sunshine really does help, and looking at something farther away than a computer monitor does something good to my brain.
  1. My thoughts get bigger. My mind starts thinking long term. Dunno why. I do know a lot of very rich and successful artists, inventors, painters, musicians, billionaires and entrepreneurs take long walks.
  1. There are so many birds around here and it’s very neat to watch them. If you pay attention you can actually see what they are doing and why. It’s more than just flying from here to there and chirping.
  1. Because there are doughnuts.

Counter productive?

Maybe.  But I have to confess, I used to drive there and get a doughnut.

So this is a step in the right direction. Actually, about 3,200 steps. (I counted once)

Context. I’ll write more about this next week. Because with the right context you can do anything. From completing a gigantic, week-long bike rally. Or making it to Horton’s just in time for the fresh batch of afternoon doughnuts.



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  1. William April 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I got five weeks to get ready for the Knoxville’s 2012 Tour de Cure. I was going to ride the metric 100, but when I checked the route and decided to do the 40 miler. Been riding on weekends, but none through the week. Mostly couching it.

  2. William April 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Oh Yeah, love donuts too (Dunkin Donuts)

  3. William April 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Can’t spell, doughnut.

  4. William April 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    My bag. Spelled doughnut or donut. Learned something everyday. Think I will get one. :)

  5. William April 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Has your wife always been supportive?

  6. rillianechols October 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post, but really, came here to say I love Tim Hortons and I’m very sad we don’t have one here. My husband and I recently drove through Canada and we mapped the drive Hortons to Hortons, for wifi, coffee, and, of course, donuts. Lots of donuts.

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