The Final Rep, Issue 14: More Time for More Activities That Bring Joy
Because the winter blues feel very real right now.
I’ll be honest, my friends, winter keeps crushing my mood. I’ve found myself pretty bummed out or irrationally annoyed recently. And while I can blame several contributing factors, the weather (and of course, the ongoing pandemic) certainly hasn’t helped.
So, this week, I decided to write down a list of five things that make me happy—activities that I can do by myself that tend to turn my mindset around in minutes, especially when I need it most. I’ve committed to doing at least one of them (preferably more) every day until the snow clears, the sun shines, and it’s not quite such a chore to get outside and hang with other humans.
It should come as no surprise that these things have to do with fitness. (Though, trust me, fitness isn’t always my go-to mood booster. I also like sushi, cookies, and Oatly ice cream—the first never consumed with the others.) But also, this little happiness project involves slowing down the active things I love to do, so I’m not rushing through them in an effort to simply get my workout done for the day. Instead, I’m taking the time I need to actually enjoy the movement and aiming to let go of whatever to-do I can’t get to for the day.
The list reads:
Dancing around my apartment to Kygo’s “Remind Me to Forget” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” two jams that always remind me of good times and make it hard ~not~ to smile and move my feet.
Light runs through the park—the type of light run that requires going slower than you probably even need to so you’re still feeling great by the end, the kind in which you walk up the really steep hills when they kind of start to piss you off (you know those maddening inclines I’m talking about), and the kind that shows you you’re capable, even when you don’t put in 110% effort.
Kettlebell snatches and Turkish get-ups, preferably paired together, always after a warm-up, and definitely with a little time to just lie on the floor between sides.
Yoga by icicle lights (aka the Christmas lights I still have hanging in my living room), set to the soundtrack of Taylor Swift’s Folklore and/or Evermore which pretty much sound like they were made for yoga. (Shoutout to Kayla and Theodora for bringing this fact to my attention.)
Morning walks through Green-Wood Cemetery (sounds weird, but it’s a very popular spot in the neighborhood), with a stop at the bench where you can see the Manhattan skyline and sit down for some deep breathes and a little reminder of what life was like, and will be like again when Manhattan gets its hustle back.
Doing things that feel good—the activities that bring us pleasure and happiness—deserves as much space as the time spent checking off all the day’s tasks. Sometimes I need that reminder and maybe you do too. As I’ve been filling my schedule with long lists of work obligations, particularly during the week, I’ve realized that I’m not leaving myself enough time to actually enjoy the activities that bring me joy and I’m definitely not getting outside enough. It’s so much nicer to start the day with a walk than a meeting or computer time—another fact I have to remind myself of sometimes. But I’m determined to shake my bad mood with the same vigor that I take on my work.
This week I’m also calling on my friends (that means YOU!) to give some suggestions on what I can add to my happy list—your tried-and-true methods for instantly perking up and feeling good. Share in the comments, shoot me an email, reply on social—whatever you choose, let’s share some joy. Puppy pics welcome.
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
Remember when you used to chat up strangers at the bar? Or you’d bond with someone on the elevator, talking about the crazy blizzard happening outside? Welp, we’ve pretty much lost those little daily connections with people we only kind of know, thanks to coronavirus. Amanda Mull wrote all about it in The Atlantic’s “The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship.” When we can fully drop physical distancing, Mull (and I) are hopeful these relationships will come back full force once we realize how much we missed them and how much they elevate our days. I will say, as I shoveled out my car on the city street the other week, I most definitely took advantage of chatting up the people shoveling next to me, like I hadn’t talked to another human in days (because, well, I hadn’t, at least in person). That little interaction brightened my entire week, so much so that I’m still talking about it. LOL!
I’m currently listening to Alexi Pappas’ heartbreaking yet hopeful memoir, Bravey, and LOVING it. So I was pumped to read more about the Olympic runner and filmmaker, and her friendship with another change-maker, Mary Cain, in an article on Runner’s World, “Mary Cain and Alexi Pappas Both Suffered in Silence. Then They Saved Each Other.” Both track stars went through serious bouts of depression in their running careers, and have helped each other through those mentally tough times, as well as journeys through physical injuries. It’s def worth a read—and Pappas’ book is too.
Charlotte Owen’s beautifully written “I Can’t Concentrate on Anything Anymore” on Bustle speaks to me, as it discusses the monotony of the days and nights. Check it out and note this line: “I know change will eventually come, which makes my current predicament less of a minimalist cavity and more like a dash or a hyphen, something transitory that has no meaning unless it’s placed between two coordinates; where we once were and where we will be when the pandemic is over.”
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
Brooks launched The Run Fund recently, aimed at getting runners to submit ideas they dream up while running. Those who submit their ideas at this link could win the grand prize of $100K to fund that idea (which literally can be anything, as long as you thought it up on the run), while four other winners will get $25K. This “runfulness” campaign—what they define as a state of mindfulness unlocked by running, a term I can fully support—also times with the launch of their Glycerin 19 and Glycerin GTS 19 kicks.
When you sign up for a membership at Life Time fitness centers, you now also get an Apple Fitness+ membership and access to Life Time Digital which streams more than 1,000 classes a week. Also, the brand recently announced that its CEO, Bahram Akradi, will teach cycling classes every Monday at 6:30pmEST—not something you see from many CEOs, but apparently, he also has a DJ to accompany his ride.
Pro fighter and wrestler, Ronda Rousey recently teamed up with Mizuno to create a training apparel line, complete with hoodies, sports bras, tops, and leggings.
Rumor has it Facebook is working on a smartwatch.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. Just like in a dead bug, you want to flex your feet and press out through the heels when you do a bird dog. In an all-fours (or quadruped) position, extend your opposite arm and leg straight out, and reach from your fingertips through your heel. Keep your shoulders and hips square to the floor, too.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
Broad jump + shuffle. I used to program this move into my HIIT classes all the time, and just did it last night, paired with kettlebell swings for a pretty fun Tabata, if I do say so myself. To do it, start standing with feet hip-width apart. Bend knees and send hips back, like a hinge with your back flat, and extend your arms behind you. Then, explode up and forward, extending the hips and swinging your arms in front of you. Land lightly in a deep squat position. Staying low in that squat, shuffle your feet back to the starting position and repeat.
For a full workout, try…
Following one of my favorite Fhitting Room instructors, Riley O’Donnell on IG. She often shares bodyweight workouts, as well as kettlebell combos, on her page and they’re always solid (and a good challenge!). I’ve mentioned Fhitting Room before, for their HIIT and strength classes, but as a reminder, you can also sign up for a class with her at this link.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
If you’re looking for a new legging brand to try, check out Lola! I have a pair of their high-waisted leggings and the material is silky soft, somewhat shiny, and certainly a pair of pants you can wear all day, or night, or weekend (no judgment!). They come in sizes from 0 to 24. The brand’s designer also comes from Lululemon and Nike, so she obvi knows what she’s doing. FYI, to my short friends, they are very high-waisted, as in they’ll basically reach your bra line. I don’t mind that, but an important note for those who aren’t into it.
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