Surviving the winter blues ~ Tip #4
If ever I needed to heed my own advice on “Surviving the Winter Blues” it has been this past week. Nothing quite prepares you for losing important members of the family and we certainly felt like Millie was the fifth member of our close knit family. The kids have been saying that it’s hard to recall a memory without her, she just always been there. She certainly was my little shadow and followed me around the house from music room to art studio…she had a doggy bed in almost every room of the house. Most of the time when I was teaching singing lessons she would be upstairs but there were several occasions when she somehow pushed through the baby gate so she could say ‘hello’ to whoever was singing. SO many great memories..she poured her love onto everyone she met.
The last afternoon of her earthly life we snuggled up on the lounge listening to jazz music and it was like we both knew the time was coming when we’d have to say goodbye.
MUSIC has been an important part of the grieving process for the entire family….there have many times over these past few days when I have heard tunes pumping from the kids rooms (they both love the music from ‘We bought a zoo’) . We’ve also been watching some very cute videos from her younger days with our then younger children and this has helped us to begin to heal.
There have been a couple of other things that have really helped me get through this past week and interestingly they were my next two tips for ‘Surviving the Winter Blues’.
So here is Tip #4
The morning after we said goodbye to Millie I had a scheduled appointment with my personal trainer. I won’t lie, I was really tempted to not turn up… but I knew that I needed to get out of the house & I always feel better after doing some exercise.
So off I went….not realising that my eyes still had black residue from the non waterproof mascara that I had been wearing (which wasn’t great when I found out that there was a surprise photo opportunity for everyone at the gym that morning for an upcoming event…ummm).
I made it through the session thanks to the support of my PT and although I did cry all the way home in the car, I actually did feel a little stronger and a little better.
But I didn’t always LOVE to exercise or see the benefits !
A few years ago I remember my family was sitting watching the news and an ad came on for a running race here in Sydney called the ‘City to Surf’ (14kms) ..I said “I’m going to do that race next year!”
Now at the time I was very unfit and hadn’t done any proper cardio work since the kids were born (12 years previously). So yes they were scoffing at me “Okay mum, that’s great!” (have to admit I was a little dubious myself). A few weeks later, my son won a football tossing competition at his school fair. Guess what his prize was? 4 free personal training sessions! “Mum, I’ve won you a prize, now you can get fit !” Excellent! (sarcastic tone).
Around the same time, I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure (it’s hereditary and I used to be very guilty of trying to pack way too many things into my life) and had been put on medication, which wasn’t thrilling to me. But wanting to follow through on my grand proclamation, I dug out the old tennis shoes and turned up to a meet and greet with the owner of the gym. He ran me through some introductory questions and then explained how I could get fit and possibly get off the medication which sounded good however, I baulked and told him that I was more of an outside fitness person (walker) .. I hated gyms (opps) so I wasn’t sure that I would stay for long. Basically excuses!
That was almost 5 years ago, I stayed and very quickly found that I liked exercising (especially running). Instead of participating in the City 2 Surf, I set my sights on a half marathon (21 .1 KMs) and since then I have completed two half marathons. My blood pressure is now in the normal range, I still run about 20 kms a week (sometimes on the treadmill in winter) and try to fit in a couple of weight sessions. It was very much baby steps for me though, I gradually built up the length of time I was running and bought some proper shoes (very important!) until before I knew it I was actually looking forward to my run sessions.
I look forward to going to the gym now (actually it’s more like a studio) because the people are great and I always come back feeling more alive…it gets the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing. I believe in the power of exercise and the benefits to our health are undeniable!
AND my personal training studio feels more like a family and they have a really good sense of humour!
You don’t have to join a gym…walking is free and there’s nothing like being outside in the fresh air.
I still love going for walks and as soon as I finish writing this blog post I’m going to head out to get my ‘steps’ in for the day. May need my gloves and beanie tonight!
Here are a couple of extra tips I find helpful in keeping the motivation up to exercise:
Plan the times during the week when you’re able to fit in a walk or some other form of exercise. Put it in the diary! If you make a commitment to certain days you can begin to establish a routine.
Have your clothes out the night before. I always have my exercise gear within easy reach, if I have to go digging for socks that can easily become an excuse not to go. (especially when the days are shorter and its dark outside)
Find a walking buddy or running group…..some of my best training experiences have been with a run group where we we’re working together to reach a goal or meeting at the end of a run for coffee !
Set yourself a realistic goal….I ran a couple of 10kms events while I was training for the half marathons. (I actually prefer this distance now for my general fitness goals). Early on, it was more like….can I run 1 km without stopping, then 3 kms….then the BAY RUN (7kms) without stopping. Baby steps, this prevents injury as well.
Get a fitness tracker like a Fitbit and set yourself a step goal for the day. Before you know it you’ll be upping the count. These tracking devices also have other great features like tracking your sleep (also very important for mental and emotional happiness).
Make a music playlist to listen to as your walking (if you’re by yourself). I LOVE listening to podcasts while I’m walking or running, there’s nothing like getting an extra inspiration hit while you’re exercising (but MUTE or take one headphone out when crossing roads!!)
Hope these tips are helpful and I look forward to sharing Tip #5 in a couple of days!