Finding my way to fitness

At the beginning of the summer, I set out some goals for myself — among them, to practice a healthy lifestyle. So far, that’s been going well! I’ve had some hurdles, but I’m feeling fit and happy, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are five things I’ve figured out in my ongoing fitness adventure. 1. Walk everywhere. It’s as simple as that. If you walk everywhere you need to go, you save money on transit, see things you might not have seen speeding past, and keep your body moving all day long. Walking has also given me lots of found pockets of me time in my day — time spent listening to music and podcasts, passing by something beautiful and stopping to take a closer look, or catching up with family or friends on my phone.
Periwinkle hanging flowers in Allan Gardens taken on a walk.
I often pop into Allan Gardens on my walks to and from campus because it's so pretty and fragrant there.
2. Track your progress. I find it really motivating to track my progress. I wear a step counter so I can see how many steps I take and I keep track of my cardio endurance and strength training. Based on how I’m improving, I’m able to set realistic goals. 3. Do things outside. I’ve never been the sort to like running outside, let alone sweating profusely in an all-out workout, but taking your routine to a park can be challenging, rewarding, and lots of fun. Bring a kettle bell or resistance band and a friend and hit a nearby park (ideally somewhere with benches and trees you can use). Make sure to incorporate cardio and to make a plan before you go so you don’t spend too much time getting the lay of the land.
A selfie of me and three friends hanging out in Trinity Bellwoods park.
Admittedly, this is not a picture of me working out in Trinity Bellwoods park with friends. However, it IS a picture of me watching others work out in Trinity Bellwoods park with friends, because taking a picture of myself while working out and putting a very sweaty selfie out in the world was not in the stars today.
My personal favourite (free!) outdoor workout is park yoga! The ambient noise and light breeze make it an incredibly pleasant environment, even when you’re in a never-ending killer downward dog pose. Park yoga seems to happen everywhere in the city if you sniff around (check out the yoga Meetup groups), but some tried and true options include High Park and Riverdale Park and Jonathan Ashbridge Park. 4. Pack lunch (and dinner). If you pack your lunch and dinner, you save money and you eat healthier. It’s ageless wisdom but it’s hard to keep up! I’ve been putting aside Sunday mornings for meal planning, shopping, and prep. It takes a few hours, but I’ve found that I spend barely any money during the week since I bring all my food on the go, and that food prep has become a relaxing part of my weekly routine. I also love going to farmer’s markets to get a few specialty items to keep my meals fresh and exciting — sunflower sprouts, anyone? And I’m addicted to local dark chocolate from Chocosol.
Fresh produce from the farmer's market.
Happy local farmer's market finds.
5. Be flexible. Not only in the sense that you should stretch before and after every workout — which, by the way, you definitely should! But also, be flexible in terms of your own routine. I tried going to the gym everyday, but I realized I was wearing my body out and not working out effectively most of the time since my muscles weren’t able to recover. I’ve since moderated my routine, and edited it significantly over and over again to the point that even calling it a routine seems disingenuous. Now, I’m getting closer to a work out that works for me! I’m open to advice and to making changes to the way I do things because it keeps fitness interesting, and it makes my time at the gym more meaningful and fun. How are your summer goals going? Are you keeping fit this summer? Talk to me on Twitter at @lifeatuoft!

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