Here at ol’ TFD HQ, we’ve been talking about doing spring challenges — something for the month of May that will allow us to tackle a project we’ve been avoiding, or sharpen a skill we’ve been meaning to work on for god-knows-how-long. And between Lauren, Holly, and I, each of us are taking on a different kind of challenge (from the athletic to the artistic) to help propel ourselves forward and start the summer on the freshest, most confident possible note. Holly has already written about her plans to de-clutter and organize in tandem with her upcoming move, and I found myself envying such a nice little dovetail: moving to a new place, and shedding everything unnecessary to do it better.
On my end, things are pretty constant, and though I have been pursuing some personal goals (I take twice-weekly private Spanish lessons and put in at least an hour of language practice per day), none of it really lends itself clearly and concisely to a month-long goal. My big trip for Spanish, for example, is bookended by my upcoming trip this summer to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a large group of friends. I plan to write a long post about my language experience this year when all of that is said and done, both from a financial and learning perspective, but there’s nothing within it that I can really neatly chop into a month’s time.
All that said, at the end of May, I’m heading to Miami for five nights with Marc, meaning that I’ll be spending my first extended period in a bathing suit since last summer. And (while I know this has become a problematic thought to express), I do not feel at the height of my confidence, physically. I am a thin person by most measures — currently 130 at 5’6, between size two and six depending on the store and item — so my goal is in no way to lose weight. But I’d be lying if I said I weren’t a rather noodly person, with little muscle mass and even less endurance. For however one defines it, I don’t feel “fit.” I feel “light,” in that I have in many ways mastered my appetite and food needs, and almost never overeat, and I generally have a good amount of energy, but I am not a “fitness” person. I don’t have that inner zest to get cardio each day, I often don’t feel as tired as I should at the end of the day, and I can barely muster ten push-ups (on my knees).
And this past year, I’ve done a few personal challenges to up the amount of daily activity I get, to the point that I am averaging around 8k steps a day currently, without going significantly out of the way. But as I’ve long found that, aside from partner dancing (which is an infrequent-at-best activity in my life), long, brisk walking is the only form of exercise I genuinely enjoy, I realize it is up to me to increase the degree to which it is part of my life. If I am to embrace walking as my primary way to physical fitness, I have to stop treating it as a convenient means to an end and start treating it as its own end. To do that, I have set myself the (somewhat-ambitious) goal of 500,000 steps in a month.
Given that it would require about doubling my current walking level, I’m trying to be realistic about what that will entail, and I can almost certainly say that it will mean many more long, dedicated walks to rack up tens of thousands of steps at once, rather than spreading things out evenly across 16,000-ish steps per day. Some weeks I may end up hitting about that, but I should keep the expectation of getting them in where and when I can, rather than beating myself up if a particular day here or there is packed with work or pouring rain. And given that I am very happy with every other aspect of my “health lifestyle” — I eat well, I cook mostly at home, I am at a healthy weight, I drink a lot of water — the changes will be exclusively in my walking. Hopefully, this will make the differences in me easier to measure and to isolate, and therefore will provide even more of that delicious motivation to continue (once the small joy of getting my yearly pair of white tennis shoes in which to do the bulk of my walking has worn off).
And what are the differences I’m hoping to see? Well, honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I know that physically, I would like to increase my ratio of muscle-to-fat, decreasing my overall noodliness and making me feel more lean and toned. I would also like to feel a serious increase in my stamina and energy — ideally, by the end of the 30 days, I’ll be itching to get my walks in as soon as I can. I’d also like to feel more powerful: I’m not aspiring to suddenly be flipping cars, but I’m someone who really values the increased, tightened connection one feels with their own body when they are in control of it, when they can manifest change within it, and when they can feel an increased responsiveness within it. The times in my life in which I’ve been more active have always felt happier and more full of possibility.
I’ll be starting on Friday, and following up with two posts, one at the 15-day mark and one after the whole thing is said and done. I’ll be tracking various metrics of my physical and mental status, even if I’m not particuarly interested in changing them (I’m not looking to lose weight, but I’ll still track it). I am a bit nervous about the whole process, but as someone who hasn’t truly felt like a “fit” person since I was partner dancing in college, I really, really look forward to once again feeling like a knowledgeable and confident captain of the great, beautiful ship that is a body.
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