The Exercise Compulsion

Quick check in, day 2, week 2 of Pit Stop Mondays.

I’ve been stretching, but half hearted motions. What I really want to talk about today is a revelation from this weekend. Here’s something I wrote on Sunday that I wanted to share:

Today, I was planning on going on a run and going to the gym despite my protesting body (my knees hurt going up stairs . . . I’m guessing because I was very very active the day before) After reading this post, I decided to plan on a walk, and to run if I felt like it, followed up by some elliptical action at our gym. I headed towards my usual route, and walked at a very leisurely pace to our amphitheater.

The weather was beautiful: warm, breezy, and sunny yet slightly overcast, and the sloping grass in the amphitheater was absolutely alluring. I contemplated a nap,  but instead went to the far corner and, hidden by trees, stripped down to my sports bra and did a few sun salutations on soft, springy growth.

Here, I again considered a run. It’s hard for me to break out of the idea that I should be active when I have time, and that walking “isn’t exercise” because it isn’t hard or rigorous. But I simply kept walking—and I am so glad I did. Walking outside on the trails in the woods, I was able to talk out loud (which is important for me) to God, and continually be amazed at what I saw.

My usual running route looks so different when I actually stop and look at it. I had no idea how diverse and beautiful the plants were—if someone had seen me, they probably would have been confused at my antics. I stopped to rub soft tree leaves on my cheek, to marvel at shapes, to gape at trees I’d never noticed before. I saw a toad, several caterpillars, and even helped a lost baby turtle back to the lake. I’d never have seen it if I had been jogging.

Allow yourself breaks. Marvel at nature, breathe in the scent of spring.

I’m going to take my camera out on that route, and show you all what I saw! I’ll add them in soon.



Nourishing our Happiness

There are many facets of health. Some are internal, such as spiritual or mental health, while others, like physical or social health, are external.  Because of the liberal arts nature of the school I attend, students are required to fulfill general education core requirements. One such requirement is “Wellness Concepts,” a course I’m currently enrolled in. It stresses the use of “wellness” over health, because the definition of health is “the state of being free of illness or injury.” Wellness, so says the argument, goes beyond simply not having health impediments but attaining an optimum level of well-being.

Health connotes well-being to me, and I don’t wish to nitpick over the differences. There have been times in my life when I have tried to separate the different aspects of health, such as when I only focused on eating well and exercising. I was nourishing my physical body, but I neglected my emotions and social connections. Health is all about balance, and can’t be broken up into little, isolated pieces. Treating our physical selves well is definitely a huge part of being healthy individuals, but we can’t focus on our bodies and neglect what feeds our minds, spirits, and souls.

Do you think I’ve used the word health enough yet? Yeah, me too!

 To shift gears just a bit, today I fed my happy self. Since I was a child, I’ve had a tender affinity for plants. Plants fascinate me—the way they emerge, timidly at first from the soil, slowly gain confidence from the sun and then stand proudly as if they’ve conquered the world. Which in a way, they have. Growing up in the country with a mother who let us have patches in the garden (but also held us accountable to weeding them!) fostered my love affair that continues to this day. What can I say, I’m a biophiliac. Indeed, when “I grow up,” I want to be a farmer. I participated in 4H, as many Midwesterners do that live in the country, and aside from the family history of dominating in the rabbit department my niche was plants. One year, I proudly took home best in show in three different categories: tallest sunflower, best flower arrangement, and best gladiolas. My thumb’s been stained green ever since. 

When I moved to Texas and was desperately yearning again to commune with nature and the outdoors, I started a garden. Unfortunately, the wiles of school and the heat of Houston summers often seduced me away, but I would seek refuge there on occasion. I found purpose in plants, in tending to the earth, in weeding and nourishing the life I’d placed in the soil. When I began my tiny oasis in the desert backyard (our property has a fair amount of sand and iron ore), we placed a pear tree in the back. I’m not ashamed to say that I would go out and not only chat with my little tree, but give it massages. With nutrient rich, compost-tea esque concoctions. It was loved. And, it’s now producing pears without another tree nearby. . . spontaneous reproduction, brought on by a babyhood of nourishment? I’ll take the credit!

You can see the dry soil, my pear tree, marigolds, tomatoes, and eggplants!

Now, I work on the organic garden at my school. Our farm manager noticed my affinity for excessive connection with the plants in our garden, and has thus put me in charge of growing the seedlings for spring and summer. Or maybe I was just a terrible ditch digger, and he wanted me somewhere my talents wouldn’t go to waste 🙂 . I’ve spent four hours this week in the biology department’s greenhouse, tending to this creation of life.

All the soon to be seedlings!

I already have some sprouting that I planted last week!

Health. It isn’t just about exercise and eating well.