What I Do to Get Out of My Rut

Ever wonder exactly where the rubber meets the road? For me, it’s the same spot where I’ve worn a groove that feels as deep as the Grand Canyon. It seems that no matter how healthy my routine might be, no matter how carefully I constructed it to save time and money, routine eventually becomes, well, very routine. So how do you get out of that rut? It’s easier than you might imagine.

Start small

Now, easier doesn’t necessarily mean faster. The Grand Canyon formed either a) over a very long time with a little water, or b) a relatively short time with a whole lot of water. But maybe this isn’t the best analogy. The Grand Canyon is millions of years old, 277 miles wide and one mile deep, whereas your time on this earth can only be measured in decades and your groove is only as deep as your imagination. Nevertheless, physics still apply. You can change lanes by stepping on the gas and gunning it over 80 mph for the next 10,000 miles—or stepping gingerly onto the bike path leading with a leg brace and a pedometer. Or some variation thereof. There is no right or wrong way to lose the groove. The important thing is to lose it.

The easy part is that the change can be small. Take your morning waking routine. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and is, therefore, the best place to start changing stuff.

My morning regimen

In my own case, I had fallen into an unhealthy morning regimen of getting out of bed and making a bee line for the computer, staying there for hours and hours, reading and writing, and eating a three-course breakfast followed immediately by lunch. Then I’d lose steam at 1 p.m. and walk the three feet to my recliner, turn on the telly and doze off. To fracture a Cartesian proposition: I sit, eat and think, therefore I am. Two problems arose: weight gain and body pain. I avoided looking in the mirror. I’d gotten so wide that I couldn’t see all of me in it. I thought of borrowing a wide-angle lens, but James Cameron was using his to film TITANIC, THE PREQUEL. More important, leg and back pain drove me out of bed before sunrise. I had to do something. And it had to be easy.

Changing my routine

At 7:30 one morning I rolled out of bed, dressed and walked the four halls of my senior apartment building. Halfway down the second one I ran into my 89-year-old neighbor, Rose, who was dressed in a floor-length robe and fluffy slippers and pushing her walker. “I woke up with hip and leg pain really early and sat for a while,” she said, “but that didn’t help, so I decided to take a walk. I don’t do that enough.”

Her explanation mirrored my own. Why do I wait until I’m miserable to rediscover the simple fact that if I don’t move my body it will eventually rebel? Was I a hippopotamus in a past life? Why did I come back? If it was to become a better hippo then why am I a woman with MS? I must have fallen asleep during the class discussion about my purpose this time around. Maybe I came back as a hippo in my past life because I was a sedentary woman in the life before that one. I’m not sure what I was supposed to learn as a hippo, but I have a feeling I really, really enjoyed being one. Maybe that’s why I’m a sedentary woman again. I’m a slow learner.

Weekly walking

So now I try to get myself out of bed and walk three times a week. If I skip, I skip. I know my potential as both human and hippo. A hippo can run 30 mph on land. Olympian Usain Bolt, the fastest human, clocked in at 28 mph in 2010. Researchers say humans could run 40 mph, in theory. I figure I could make it up to 10 mph with my cane if you dangled a crab sushi in front of me. Or faster depending on how hungry I am for crab sushi. Which is usually ravenously hungry. That’s my theory, anyway.

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