You can’t help but be active in New York. I didn’t have a car. I walked EVERYWHERE. I thought nothing of lugging six bags of groceries the several blocks between my market and my home. I lived on the sixth floor of a seven floor building. Yeah, I could take the elevator; but it was slow and rickety, so most days, I opted to take stairs. I climbed more stairs in New York than I ever have in my life, before or since; up and down flights of stairs to get to auditions and classes; up and down flights of stairs to get to and from the subway.
I would take the A – train from 207th and Broadway down to mid-town and then walk across Central Park to get to my fancy Park Avenue job. (Don’t get too excited – I was an executive assistant at CitiGroup, back in the glamorous days when they everyone said they had grown too big to fail.) I would walk from the mid 50s down to Union Square (14th Street) to get to my doctor’s appointment, and then from Union Square down to the Village, just because I could.
I went to a gym after work. Everyday. Cardio, weights – the works. This was a prescription from my doctor at the time, who said that exercise would help relieve the my depression and anxiety. She was right.
I came back to Portland in 2003 and all but stopped moving. I worked (and still do) in front of a computer all day – suddenly I was doing nothing to compensate. I got a car, because – well, that’s what you do. Having a car means driving a car, which really changed my perspective about walking. Walking became what I did once I got to my destination, The goal was to get close enough to my destination with my car to avoid extra steps – and to be clear, to avoid getting soaked in the rain.
Oh yeah. The whole rain thing. You may be shocked to find out that it rains in Portland. The damp, grey weather inspires me to sit in on my sofa with a good book and a cup of tea, nestled in my cosy, hypoallergenic, simulated goose down comforter. The rain does not inspire me to be active. It inspires me to hibernate.
So this is a lot preamble for my first guideline of 2011 – but you’ve got to know where you’ve been in order to figure out where you are heading, right?
So here they are – guidelines for getting physical:
- If I have a choice between the elevator and the stairs, I will endeavor to take the stairs more often – leading up to a goal of more often than not.
- Just because the car is convenient doesn’t mean I have to take the car. If there are places to which I think can walk, or bike then I will give it a try (at least once) and if it isn’t completely awful – I will endeavor to do it again.
- When I take TriMet – I don’t have to take the stop closest to my destination, I can take the bus or train as far as I want, and walk the rest of the way.
- I don’t need to join a gym to be more active – but if I choose to do so, I don’t need to quaranteen myself to the elliptical or the stationary bike – I can take classes – at things I’m not good at and enjoy getting better at them.
- I will try to remember that I am not made of spun sugar nor am I any relation of the Wicked Witch of the West. Rain is a fact of life in Oregon, not an excuse not to move.
That’s a pretty good start. More guidelines coming soon.