Working outside vs working out

Truly time waits for no man (or woman!) As I write this, a new year is upon is, and, of course,  with that comes the ever-familiar New Year's resolutions, with diet and exercise related goals topping the list.

I have to laugh as I hear people stating their intentions knowing darn well that if they hold true for a week or tow, they'll have bested last year's effort(s). It's like they know they're doomed to failure.

But, what if the problem is going unmentioned?

What if the reason we 'drop the ball' so quickly is not because of a lack of willpower or self-discipline, but rather, a realization on our body's part that what were attempting isn't what we need? There's a big difference between saying "I'm going to lost weight,", and, "I would like to eat better food."

Likewise, there's a difference between committing yourself to a daily/weekly 'workout' and moving more.

In the first instance, you're forcing your body to do what doesn't always come naturally.

In the second instance, you're aligning your body with what it actually wants (and needs) to be healthy.

Yes, your body actually craves movement. It's thirsty and hungry for it. A great Rabbi once said, "Who of you, when your child asks for bread, would give them a rock?"

So, too, why, when our bodies are hungry for movement, do we give it a barbell? Or, why, when our bodies needs walking, do we give it a treadmill?

Trading off real-life movement for simulated activities is like trying to subsist soley on a diet of nutritional supplements.

Here's an example from my own life:

Our house backs up to an Amish farm. The boundary dividing the two properties is lines with old walnut and sassafras trees. When I first moved in, this tree line was completely overtaken by sticker bushes, wild grape and poison ivy. The vines had grown up and over the tress, killing some of them, and making a mess of the rest. So, the tree line wasn't so much a tree line as it was a thirty foot swath of jungle, growing wider with each year.

The backyard 'before' shot.

The backyard 'before' shot.

Enter the 'me'.

Having spent a good bit of my adult life doing carpentry and excavation and so forth, my body missed that activity, and yes, the thrill of mindless grunt work.

I know - it sounds strange - bu there's something about ripping out weeds and pulling down vines that is very zen to me.

I have no problems to solve. I don't have to think a whole lot. I only need to tackle one weed, one vine, one root at a time. And, although getting started is always the hardest part, once I get going my body springs into life! My muscles are engaged, my breathing becomes more powerful, and my heart develops this nice bass drum punch to it that makes me feel like a machine coming back to life.

After about three or four hours, I usually have removed enough 'crapola' to then construct an evening's worth of bonfire, which I enjoy immensely!

Here's another thing. On several occasions, whilst whacking away at the verge, my neighbor comes over with this curious look on his face.

"What the hell are you doin'?"

"I'm clearing the tree line."

"Why are you doing it like THAT?" he asks, his eyebrows knitting together is a curious and semi-concerned manner. "I got a piece of equipment that can do all this in an hour!"

"Yeah, well -  like doing this. It makes me feel good. But, hey, thanks anyway!"

"Alright, suit yerself..." he says, and heads back over to his place.

I can't help but wonder about a connection between his choice for the 'easier and faster' approach to getting a job done, and his health issues, even though I know he works out.

Me? I'd rather work outside.

I have found that what most of us try to avoid is what we actually really need. By making the effort to go outside and yank weeds, dig up roots and move rocks, I get a full-body workout while making my yard look better. What do you get from lifting weights? Does the gym look any better after you're done? Can you look at the dumb-bells with any sense of lasting satisfaction?

"See those weighs over there? You oughtta see what they looked like BEFORE I lifted 'em twenty times!"

No - give me a sickle and a digging bar any day!

I use my arms, my legs, my torso ...everything!... to accomplish a task and feel good about it, and myself. And, I can enjoy my efforts for years to come. Every time I stand on my deck to look out over the beautiful landscape that was once untamed brush, I get a complete sense of satisfaction.

The backyard 'after' shot.

The backyard 'after' shot.

It's taken me five years so far, and I'm almost done. I have maybe two or three hundred more feet to go and I'm already wondering about what I'll do when I'm finished. (Gina asks, anyone need some brush cleared...? :)

In the meantime, I'll keep finding ways to use my body to 'do life', rather than seeking the 'easier, faster' ways, and then trying to fit my body's needs for movement around that.

What are some activities you might otherwise use technology for that you can re-purpose to meet your body's needs for movement?

Can you walk while doing your phone meetings? Can you shovel some of the drive before reaching for the snowblower? (Yes, Gina just inserted that suggestion, knowing that Bill who does still use a shovel actually covets the neighbor's snowblower...)

There's a million big and little whole foods movements we can reclaim for our workout.

Homework: In the last email, we asked you to pay attention to marketing messages for 'wellness' and 'health' and 'fitness', and see if you can discern what they're really selling.

This week, we want you to notice ads promoting 'ease' and 'convenience'. What sort of connections are you making (if any) between the two?

We invite you to post your comments below, or visit us on Facebook.

Stay tuned next week, where we'll discuss the differences between treadmill-walking and walking.

The backyard 'with Gina' shot...

The backyard 'with Gina' shot...