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50/50: Make your life be your workout

Susie Ekberg Risher

We recently bought a lake cabin. Two days after that, we sold our other home in Bismarck.

With the finesse of a tightrope walker, I made plans for the week. Drive to Bismarck with Rhonda, meet the movers and pack all day, drive back to Fargo. Meet the next morning and drive to the lake and unpack everything. That looked really good on paper, but Day 1 actually went something like this:

Rhonda: “I’ll get working here in the kitchen.”

Me: “I’m going to go make sure the movers know what they’re doing.”

Rhonda: “I’m going to start folding all the blankets.”

Me: “I’m going to just rest here for a minute.”

Rhonda: “I’m going to go help the movers move the big cement dolphin coffee table.”

Me: “I’m just going to talk to the neighbor for a minute.”

My lack of muscle tone surprised me. My fatigue bewildered me. My lack of stamina scared me.

As I lifted my 426th tote full of slotted soup spoons, I felt the familiar burn in my teeny little biceps and thought, “Hey! This is just like the stretchy band exercise Andrea has me do at the gym! I bet this could count as a workout!”

I started focusing on taking deep breaths, employing proper form, and even lifting the boxes a couple more times than necessary, just to get in the good workout. I even cocked my head, tucked my chin a little and breathed out a little each time I lifted. I looked good. Gym good. But I wasn’t at the gym.

We drove back to Fargo, and I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. My hips were now frozen, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Day 2

We arrived at the lake, and the mover, Justin (we’re all now on a first name basis), parked then pulled up the back door on the moving truck. I saw rugs, dressers, tables and boxes filled to the top and had a little moment of panic.

I wasn’t only lazy; I was tired from working one day. One day. Then it hit me. Maybe life should be my work out. Maybe I can move and walk in my life and not have to go to the gym all the time (OK, so I don’t go to the gym all the time, but I could).

My steps on the treadmill are effectively walking in place. My kettlebell swinging is just that – standing in place and moving a heavy object around my waist. My routine on my Total Gym is just pushing against a board. I’m not actually doing any real activities, but I think I’d gotten it backwards somewhere along the way.

My life can be my workout, not just five hours a week put aside to actually move in a meaningful way that will help my health.

So on Day 2, I decided to try my new theory called “Susie’s Life Workout.” I was already dressed in yoga pants, a T-shirt and tennis, so I thought that was a great start.

I didn’t try to get out of any work, but exuberantly swung my arms as I walked to the truck and asked if I could help unload. I didn’t only take the pillows and cushions; I took a chair or two, even the blue area rug if I’m remembering correctly.

When I bent over, I made sure to stay an extra second to give my hamstrings and back an extra stretch. When I walked up the stairs for the 97th time, I tried to run two at a time (it didn’t work, but I totally tried).

I visualized what my body must be doing while I was walking through these active days, and I liked what I saw. Even though I couldn’t stand up straight for the next few days and had bruises all over my legs (even a mysterious one on the top of my right foot), I felt alive.

So with my puppy sitting right next to me looking at me with her soulful brown eyes, I think she would be very appreciative if I put on my black Converse tennies and took her outside for a long walk.