Next week is it folks. The onslaught of holiday fun amps up in a big way. Feasting on turkey at Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parades and tree-lighting ceremonies, parties, family time, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all advancing toward me at a lightening-speed pace. But, that’s not all. Issa and Riff each have holiday-themed activities and projecting coming up at school. This is all good. It’s what I — and many others call — organized chaos.
In preparation for weeks of indulging, gift, giving, baking, decorating and partying I went for my first spinning class, this morning. Exercise is a regular segment to my daily routine. But, I admit to being a bit lazy through most of this fall. This class is just what my fitness program needed: a challenge.
Let me tell you. A spinning class is not biking the Macomb Orchard Trail or Stony Creek Metro Park. It’s biking, cardio, strength and interval training all mixed up. For weeks, I searched for something to keep me motivated to work out regularly. This class is it. I’ll be back each week for the entire winter.
Remember that ’80s song, Deep Feeling Fascination from Human League? Whenever I am in procrastination mode — like now — that song plays in my head; nonstop.
Keep feeling [procrastination]. Passion burning. Love so strong. Keep feeling [procrastination]. Looking learning. Moving on.
— Human League
Here I sit in my writer’s chair. The elliptical machine in my home gym is lonely; waiting for my motivation to fire me up. What is it about cold, autumn mornings?
At the start of the school year, I did so well. After putting both kids on the bus, I would go for either a bike ride, run or walk. I still go walking. But, only if a friend wants to join. That way I get my social fix along with my fitness.
But, now, six weeks in, I no longer have the spark. I would rather sit typing while nursing steaming hot cups of caffeinated goodness. Then, at day end, I feel weak and undisciplined for not pushing myself to get off my butt.
I think I know what the problem is. I give myself too many outs. For instance, I spent too long lingering on Facebook, checking e-mails and looking at the LOFT online sale for clothing and accessories I don’t need. Had I jumped on the elliptical instead of Facebook, I would be humming from a good cardio boost and a hot shower.
But, now, I have less than 20 minutes to ready myself for a meeting with the Green Committee from the school PTO at Panera. So, I have given myself a valid excuse, “I don’t have time.”
To console myself, I keep saying it was too cold outside at 8 am to walk, run or bike. Plus, it’s still too confining to work out in my home gym. There isn’t snow or ice on the ground. I’ll just do my workout later. Yeah, right.
BTW, that sale at LOFT offers an extra 50-percent off at checkout. So, my procrastination was not a complete waste.
It must be that time of year. School is out in 46 days. The social calendar for May, June and beyond is filling quickly. There is little time to accomplish all those “to-d0s”; and just when I cross one off the list another quickly takes its place. So, this morning, I was thinking about ways I could rid myself of all the stress threatening to turn me into a snarly witch.
Here’s what works for me. What about you? Maybe you have some strategies I could try.
1. Clean house/household chores/yard work. For some reason any of these work wonders to diffuse volatile emotions. In addition to gaining a clean home and beautiful landscaping, the sense of accomplishment helps flush out all that unproductive negativity.
2. Hair therapy. Sometimes 30 minutes in the chair with my hair stylist at the helm is all I need. It also helps that she often has a hot, foo-foo, cup of coffee at the ready as well as a pretty impressive list of books she recommends reading.
3. Walk the dog or myself. Add the benefit of warm temps., sunshine and my favorite MP3 selections; and this is my surefire way of coping with challenging tasks.
4. Music. When I run errands or take self-imposed timeouts, I crank up my favorite tunes. My selections depend upon many variables such as the weather, time of year, and mood.
5. Cardio exercise. Nothing removes stress from my pores like an outdoor run at a local park, interval training with Bob Harper DVDs, or striving to beat my best elliptical times.
6. Shoe therapy. I tried this Sunday at DSW after my two angels broke world-records for five days of off-the-charts meltdowns. This maneuver earned me a couple pairs of sandals and a pair of boots for next fall/winter. Ooh la la!
7. Writing. When I write out my feelings, I am much more able to communicate with loved ones about issues that need resolution. Taking this step enables me to think before I speak, which saves me from saying words I will regret in the future.
8. Date nights with my girlfriends. There is nothing like spending a couple hours with girlfriends who are experiencing similar situations with their own partners, children, families, etc. These nights out offer a chance to feel less alone and to obtain suggestions for how to better manage challenges we all face.
9. Laughter. Looking at challenging, stressful situations with a sense of humor makes all the difference. If nothing else, life makes for some great storytelling.
Do shoppingmarathons qualify as exercise? I think so. Just like 5k training, they require planning, goals, motivation, comfortable shoes, strategy, selectivity, focus, competition, stamina, strength, resilience, aggression, and great eye candy.
Planning makes it easier to focus and get down to business. Without a workout plan, I spend way too much time deciding which exercises to do. The same is true with shopping marathons. Planning where I’m shopping and what I’m shopping for saves me. Important note: plan flexibility is required for deviation, detours, and impulsive behavior — for 5k training sessions and shopping marathons — especially when one lives north of the “D”.
Motivation is a direct link to making work outs and shopping marathons successful. Something clicks in my head. It pushes me to kick-ass on the elliptical or 5k course. When I have my shopping groove on, I wake up feeling a rush of adrenaline in my veins. I know achievement is at hand.
Comfortable shoes are critical for sprinting and getting to all the must-have deals before my competition does. Shopping marathons are not for the weak and feeble. Proper foot attire is necessary for speed walking, standing for long hours, kicking competitive shoppers in the shins — just kidding — and avoiding fashion faux pas.
Strategy is different from a plan. I define strategy as a methodology for ensuring plan success. When I play tennis, it involves opponent assessment, shot placement, and skill inventory. Shopping marathons require store layout assessment, merchandise knowledge, wish list prioritization, time management, competitive shopper analysis, personal shopper recruitment, checkout line comparison, and exit preparation.
Selectivity or prioritization enables me to complete timely workouts and saves me from overworking muscle groups. This ideology saves time and money during shopping marathons.
Focus means unwavering drive to achieve or acquire. Having met my winter goal of running five miles in 30 minutes on my elliptical, I am now on task to win some 5ks. All of my work outs are centered around achieving this goal. During a shopping marathon, I am focused on acquiring items from my ever-changing wishlist. I do my best not to exit the store until my list is maxed out. But, my children often cause my memory to fail. This means I forget stuff and repeat visits to fave stores are necessary.
Competition is a healthy part of any fitness regimen or shopping marathon. It is expected. A competitive exercise program makes fitness fun. Hesitation to grab one-of-a-kind treasures is sure to kill a shopping marathon before it even gets started.
Stamina builds over time. For example, I was huffing and puffing after five minutes on my elliptical 10 years ago. On Monday, I ran a practice 5k in 30 minutes. At Parisian’s Mother’s Day sale, I entered the store at 10 am and exited at 3:30 pm. I could have lasted another five hours.
Strength also gains when exercise is consistent, practiced and frequent. Shopping marathons are labor intensive and may require heavy lifting.
Resilience is especially important during Zumba classes. For a visual think Elaine from Seinfeld. Shopping marathons — especially ones involving bathing suits — require a tough, resilient attitude. I keep looking and trying stuff on. In the end, I usually find something dazzling. If not, I try again on a different day or after a few spicy rum lemonades.
Aggression fuels my workouts. I translate daily stress into lengthy walks around my neighborhood, positive interval training, and tough-as-nails cardio-kickboxing sessions. Stress and aggression need healthy outlets. Blocking competitive shoppers, keeping a place in the checkout line, and asking for store assistance all take some finesse.
Great eye candy makes any workout better. I burn hundreds of extra calories on the elliptical while watching movies starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio. Whatever works, right? Shopping marathons are all about great eye candy. The more the merrier. After taking a few moments to take in all the must-have goodies, my mind clears and I am on-task to accomplish my mission.