Saturday, 12 January 2019

Be Well

It’s the beginning of a new year. Hope springs eternal in the human psyche. This year, I hope, will be even better than last year. But only if I change a thing or two about my life.

So, when a New York Times article caught my eye, I was in like a dirty shirt. Take the thirty-day Well challenge, the writer, Tara, urged readers. Only a few minutes a day to a new, better version of yourself. I push a key on the keyboard, and I’m enrolled.

The program is all about 4 words: Move, Refresh, Nourish, and Connect. “The science is clear,” writes Tara. “If you move your body a little each day, you will be far better off than if you are sedentary. If you nourish your body with real food (the kind that doesn’t come in packages loaded with sugar or via a drive-through window) you will be healthier than if you eat junk food. If you allow your mind to take a break and refresh from time to time, you will feel better. And if you regularly connect with loved ones and friends, old and new, you will be both happier and healthier.”

Each day, an assignment is sent to your email box, and if you complete it, you can click the “I did it!” button. It’s like pulling a handle at the slots and getting a sack full of gold coins. Tracking your progress is a good indicator of finishing the program, says Tara. Tell your friends that you’re doing it. That’s another good sign. So that’s why I’m writing this.

The program started Monday morning. I awoke with great anticipation and clicked on the link. A video with instructions for my first Move Assignment appeared on the screen. Oh, oh!  I was in deep trouble. The model who would demonstrate the moves looked like this:

I look like this.

The voice-over told me I would be doing 30-second intense workouts, followed by 15 seconds of rest, through a set of 4 exercises repeated twice: Jumping Jacks, Forward Lunge, Bent Knee push-ups, and The Plank. Yup, I was in trouble. Obviously, these exercise were not designed for me, with my arthritic knees and my carpal tunnel wrist problems.

Still, I wasn’t about to give up on day one. Maybe I couldn’t do those exercises, but I could still move in 30 second intense segments. I could maybe chase the resident sweetie up the stairs, rest for 15 seconds, and chase him back down again. On second thought, maybe not. Jack and Jill fell down the hill, and Al and Jess came tumbling after. So: 30 seconds of intense vacuuming, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat, repeat, repeat till you’ve done the 6 minutes. That should do it. Hey, look at that – visitors coming tomorrow, and the floor is clean! This program works!

Day Two: The assignment is labelled Refresh. Hmmm....maybe a nice nap? Or a long hot bath? Nope.
illustration New York Times
This assignment is called Toothbrushing Meditation. Toothbrushing Meditation?

Today, chirps Tara, we’re going to take one small step to help you quiet your mind. Today when you brush your teeth, try this challenge:
When you're ready to start brushing, close your eyes. ...Now listen to the sound of the brush on your teeth, taste the toothpaste....Stay present....Now, slowly, stand on one leg and keep brushing. You might wobble, but try to stay present and focus on the moment — the sounds, tastes and feelings throughout your body. Feel the ground beneath your foot. Feel your strength. Be present.

I admit, I am skeptical. This sounds way too whoo-whoo. But, I’m a good sport. I will try it. To my horror, I find I cannot even stand for 2 seconds on one leg while brushing my teeth with my eyes closed. Aghghg. I’m a failure on day two!

(The next day, my sister reminds me of the Yoga Tree Pose. This adaptation helps tremendously. But still? Do you brush your teeth for 6 minutes twice a day? You do? Oh.)

Day Three: Oh, no, not another Move day. Apparently Move assignments will appear on three days each week. A new model is demonstrating the moves, and the exercises are marginally easier than the first day. At least, they looked easier. Another failure notch on my belt.

I look forward to Day Four: A Connect assignment. Tara greets me cheerily: “What say we make a love connection today?” The assignment is to Reinvent Date Night. Apparently, planning an outing or social experience that is different from what you usually do with a partner or friend will enhance your connection to each other. Like go to a restaurant you don't usually go to -- A&W instead of McDonalds. Or, maybe instead of watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, we could try watching a new show? We could even hold hands!

Day 5: Groan. Another Move assignment. Enough said.

Day 6: Nourish. That means food, eh? Tara tells me that it is time to snack. Good, I can do that. She tells me that potato chips and chocolate brownies are not good snacks. Oh. I need to arm myself with good things – carry them in my purse, have a supply in the car, put a container by my reading chair, for instance, so when the growlies attack, I can ward them off with good stuff. The good things are .... ta da! ... nuts. Boy, does that make me feel good! Nuts have been my go-to snack for quite a while now. Finally! I’ve succeeded at something. I can even click the “I Did It” button.

Six days down, 24 to go. At the rate I’m going, I may get the thirty day challenge done in a year or so. Well, it will keep me out of trouble.

And it gave me something to write about!

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