I started my long weekend by watching this great talk by Christine Carter at Wisdom 2.0 about how less is more. Christine is a sociologist and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and at Work.
I really like Christine’s idea of applying a minimum effective dose to all aspects of your life, including stuff and busyness.
I particularly enjoyed her description of a ‘better than nothing’ workout. I must say, I can completely relate to what she is saying! I have spend my adolescent and adult life thinking that I should do more exercise. That I should be spending at least an hour every day working out like a gym junkie.
Finally, after nearly 20 years of feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, I gave up. I decided I was fine the way I was. I could be healthier, fitter, thinner, stronger, but I was just fine as I was. I wasn’t so overweight that my life was at immediate risk, although I was very much at the top end of every ‘normal’ range. My waistline was only 1cm off being a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. But I was fine.
So I stopped trying to exercise. I gave up on my plans of riding to work (18km) every day and doing weekly pump classes. Around the same time (10 months ago), I got a dog and fell in love instantly. Exercise became an even lower priority and Sophie became my first. I committed to walk her every single morning, rain hail or shine. And, for the most part, I did. It wasn’t for me, it was for her, and I enjoyed my time with her immensely.
The thing about walking my dog is that it’s not really exercise! I used to map our dog walks and the app would tell me my walking pace. It usually averaged 15min to every 1km. That’s hardly speed walking. Hell, that’s not even walking. We’d stop every 2 minutes for her to sniff or pee or meet someone. It really just doesn’t count, but it was movement and it was every day.
For the last 3 years I’ve been battling with a shoulder injury. I am in pain daily, and my strength withered so much after surgery that I couldn’t lift my top over my own head. I’ve been steadily building up my strength and range of movement since then. Early this year, I changed physios. He got me doing much less, but more. I was spending less time on my exercises, and doing them only 3 times a week instead of daily, but the exercises were much more challenging. One day, he asked me to show him a push up.
I’d never done a push up in my life, but now with a shoulder injury I didn’t even come close. So we’re building up to it. Instead, he got me doing planks, just for 10 seconds at a time and building up. I found myself doing the planks daily, never for more than 30 seconds, just because it was so easy. I didn’t need time, special clothes or equipment, and I could do them (almost) anywhere. I just needed 30 seconds, some floor space and a smidge of motivation.
Today, I am stronger than I’ve ever been, even with my injury. I have muscles! I can flex and show off my guns, and if I squeeze my abs you can just see a few baby muscles starting to rise from beneath the flab. Walking has made my thighs stop jiggling and rubbing together. I have lost about 8kg and 6cm off my waist. I can now pull my pants off without undoing any buttons or zippers (fantastic timing for my Buy Nothing Year!).
I feel great. I’m fitter, stronger and more confident than ever before. I might even dare to wear a bikini in front of people (it’s nearly summer!) and I’d even consider buying a tight-fitting dress (once Buy Nothing Year is over, of course).
The past year or two of my life I have repeated a few simple words over and over, and I’m starting to learn and believe them:
Less is more
I am enough