Things are different this time

Last night, I met the guys at The Distillery (their new Winton Road location) for our usual Monday night dinner. None of us had been there before, so it was a new experience. I found it a delightful place and look forward to going back again sometime. Perhaps I’ll take my father there the next time he spends the night with me.

As is our tendency during the summer, we ate outdoors, enjoying the warm weather and beautiful sky. As we were getting ready to leave, I sat there looking at the sunset and decided I wanted to go for a walk.

It’s not unusual for me to go for a walk after having dinner with the guys. In fact, it’s become something of a tradition in my mind over the last month. As we usually eat somewhere on Park Avenue, I usually leave directly from the restaurant and walk the circuit made by Park, Alexander, East, and Berkeley. It makes for a nice forty-five minute walk.

However, I had originally planned on skipping that part of my Monday night routine last night. I figured that with my seven mile canal walk Sunday morning, there was no need to get more exercise the next night, so I planned on giving my legs a break. But as I sat watching that sunset and enjoying the moderate temperatures of the evening, I realized that I didn’t want to give my legs the break. I wanted to complete my Monday night routine like I normally would.

This exemplifies a radical difference between my walking habits recently and past attempts to exercise more. This excites me because it’s a difference that I think may help me actually stick with the practice this time around, as opposed to other times when I tapered off.

Over the past seven years, every other time I’ve tried to get more exercise (usually through walking, though I did try making use of my apartment complex’s exercise room for a few weeks last year, as well), I’ve done it out of a sense of obligation. I’ve told myself that I need to exercise, and often found myself practically forcing myself to do it. My heart just wasn’t in it.

This time around, I’ve found that I’m walking because I want to. In fact, for the first few weeks I started walking after dinner on Monday night, I refused to allow myself to think of it as another attempt to start exercising. I made the conscious choice to undergo the walk for the simple fact that I enjoy it. And the result is that even now that I’m starting to think in terms of exercise, it’s still a matter of desire rather than a sense of necessity or obligation. So I suppose it’s perfectly reasonable that even though I didn’t need to take my usual Monday night walk last night, that part of me that enjoys the routine would still want to do it anyway.

I’ve noticed a similar mentality with the canal walk. I found myself getting quite frustrated when trying to plan that trip for the last two months. However, my frustration was centered around finding a day that (1) I had free and could do it and (2) there was someone who could pick me up at the other end. My frustration wasn’t in trying to meet an obligation I was ambivalent about, but in trying to make the arrangements necessary to do something I love doing with all the restrictions created by everyone’s hectic summer schedules.

And as a further result, I’m looking for another day during the week that I can schedule regular walks. I’ve decided that a walk on the weekend and another one on Monday nights just isn’t enough for me. So I’m looking at working another walk into my routine on Thursday evenings.

I’m not sure how well that will work. I’m a bit nervous that I’m pushing my luck. But I figure that I’ll give it a shost. Besides, if I find it’s not working or (worse) that it’s actually affecting how I generally feel about my walking negatively, I’ll drop the idea for a while. But I think an honest and careful attempt at stretching my enjoyment is worthwhile.

Of course, I think there are other factors that are contributing to my success this time around. Another big factor is my choice of venues. I have a number of different routes I can take, all of which I enjoy for various reasons. This helps keep the overall experience a positive and interesting one. Then there’s the fact that I’ve found a way to work the walks into my schedule in natural and positive ways. The best example of that is the Monday evening walks after dinner. On those nights, I’ve already enjoyed a good meal and pleasant conversation. In some ways, going for a pleasant stroll is a way to keep the evening going. After all, it beats just going home and watching television or playing on the computer by myself.

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