“You Have To Swim Backwards!”

You know what’s surprisingly good exercise? Chasing a 7-year-old around a pool for 40 minutes. That’s surprisingly good exercise. Particularly when I let him make up the rules of the game we’re playing.

The one that was the most work started simply enough. He’d ask me to throw a ball into the deep end of the pool. And then we had to race to get it, and then race back to the shallow end and touch it to the edge of the pool while the other player tried to take it away. In practice, this led to my son hanging onto my arm and back as I dragged him through the water.

It got more complicated as it went, of course. After I scored the first point, I was then required to swim backwards. Which was actually run backwards, but it’s still a lot of work. Plus, of course, a seven year old wrestling me as I tried to make my way back across the pool.

It was exercise, yes. But it was exercise filled with joy and laughter and fun. And even better than that, it was time spent with my son, building memories as we spent time together.

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I Saw A Cool Tree

I managed to hit 5.5 miles walking for the first time in months, yesterday. And I feel pretty good. I mean, my legs are sore but it’s a good sore. The kind that tells you you were working, if you know what I mean.

Also, I saw a really cool tree.

I don’t know what kind of tree it is (although iNaturalist suggests it could be a cypress), but it was just utterly interesting to look at. We found it on a family walk around one of our local parks, where it was planted between two large fir trees and really stood out as a result.

That’s one of the nice things about walking for exercise. You find interesting things, if you pay attention.

Make It Fun

Well, despite my assertions yesterday I pretty solidly failed at meeting my calorie budget. You win some, you lose some. But that’s not what I’m writing about. Instead, I’m going to write about having some company when I went to work out.

See, I didn’t get up to work out this morning because I was feeling lazy. Instead, I went after dinner. As I was getting ready, I asked my son if he wanted to come with me or stay and watch television. And, to be honest, I thought he’d stay. Instead, he enthusiastically said he wanted to go.

So, he went. And he took my tablet, so I figured he’d chill out and play video games while I exercised.

That’s not what he did.

While I went through my workout, he tried the elliptical out. Then he got in the treadmill, after I showed him how th start it and clip the emergency off cord to his shirt.m, and tried seeing how fast he could go. Then he was back to the elliptical, and back to the treadmill, then video games and treadmill and elliptical again. And all the time chatting with me and with the lady using the reclining bike.

He had a blast.

So did I. And it reminded need me of something: exercise really should be fun. So often, I treat it like a chore. Like something I have to do, and get through, and that is necessary but that I don’t really want to do. But my favorite exercises, the ones I could do for hours, aren’t like that. I walk because it’s gorgeous outside and I enjoy exploring my neighborhood. I practice contact staff flow arts because it lets me pretend to be a Jedi Knight. I swear m because I love being in the water and playing with my son.

Heck, with my son there, even the weights felt fun.

So, that’s what I (re)learned thanks to a seven-year-old who wanted to hang out with his dad and play on the cool exercise toys. Make it fun.

New Year’s Bowl

We celebrated the New Tear by going bowling yesterday. It was fun, but a whole lot harder than I remembered it being. I was never a great bowler – my score was pretty consistently around 120, which is terrible – but I used to do a lot of bowling as a teenager. The bowling alley on Flak Kasarne in Augsburg was inexpensive, and it had an arcade as well, so me and my metalhead D&D friends would go bowl several games about once a week.

I made it two games yesterday, and started dying about halfway through the second game. Flinging a 10-pound ball around was hard work. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not aching or injured. But round about frame four of game two, what control I had over the ball failed utterly.

Yeah. Good times. I’ll have to do this again.

Working Around The Christmas Tree

I completely forgot to weigh in over the weekend, and I don’t feel at all bad about it? Why? Because I was doing important things, like buying a new Christmas tree and decorating it.

Pretty, isn’t it?

There is, of course, both good and bad to having the tree up. The good is that it brings a real feeling of Christmas to my condo. I spent the evening on the couch with my son, watching Christmas movies and playing with the various settings for the lights.

The bad is that the tree occupies a chunk of living room real estate that I would otherwise be using for exercise. Sure, I’ve still got room. But I’ll need to be careful for the next month. No need to go and accidentally slap an ornament into the kitchen, or something like that.

The Festival of Lights

First off, I’m down another pound!

I’ll be honest here. There is a little vote ce in my head saying something along the lines of “just one pound? That’s all?” But I’m telling that voice to shut up, because I lost that pound over Thanksgiving week, and I sort of went off the calorie rails. With that in mind, one pound is really good.

But that’s not the cool thing I did the cool thing was the annual Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. Every year the entire zoo is decorated with Christmas lights, and you can go see the animals that don’t mind the cold, and ooh and aah over the lights, and generally have a grand “get in the mood for the season” time.

This year, the weather was perfect. Like, “wearing a light jacket” perfect. My wife and I, and our son and 7-year-old nephew went and spent three hours walking up and down the park. We got there an hour ad a half before sundown and stayed until an hour and a half after, and had a great time.

Did I mention that we walked, or at least stood, the vast majority of that time? Because, yeah. We did. I covered five and a half miles that Saturday, and at least four of those miles were at the Zoo. And it was a great reminder of why I’m still trying to do all of this. I won’t say my legs weren’t sore at the end, or that I wasn’t glad to sit down when we got to the car. But you know what? If the kids hadn’t started getting cold and tired and hungry, and if they’d wanted to stay longer? I could have, and I could have kept up with them.

It makes all of this worth it, really.

Swordfighting For Health

We were out…well, not really late last night. Except maybe by my “I get up at 3 am” standards. When we got home, my son still wanted to play. He didn’t have to go to school in the morning, and wanted to stay up. I hesitated at first, but… “for a little while,” I said. “What do you want to play?”

“Let’s swordfight!” he declared, handing me his light-up Minecraft Christmas sword (yes, that’s a thing) and then running off to get one of his lightsabers.

Well, I decided, if we’re going to do this we’re going to do this right. So I’ve got John Williams’ Duel of the Fates queues up by the time he gets back, and we go at it – with my son declaring himself Obi-Wan and me filling the role of a Christmas-theme Darth Maul. It ended with me getting my legs cut off and stabbed in the stomach repeatedly.

Somewhere in there, I also covered the last quarter-mile I needed to walk for the day. I guess we were pretty energetic.

Is there a point to this? Sure. Exercise doesn’t have to be work. In fact, if you’re having fun with it, you’ll be far mire likely to do it.