Monday, December 05, 2011

How hard can it be?

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“In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.”
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Yes, I thought up another 30 day challenge. It occurred to me, since my car is having difficulties, that this might be a good month to try going car-free. This might be considered making a virtue of necessity: my mechanic doesn't work weekends, so with my work schedule it's awkward trying to get the car to him right now. I'm going to try to work another week of four 10-hour days, so maybe I can drop the car off Friday, pick it up next Friday. Aside from that, I want to see if I can go without driving anywhere at all for a month.

What I've discovered so far is that I'm getting a lot more incidental exercise. Just shopping for groceries or picking up a DVD from the library involves walking or cycling for several miles. On the down side, I have to plan a lot better. Because it gets dark so much earlier, my bike ride had to be cut short yesterday when I found out that the batteries in my bike lights had quit working. Even so, I managed to cycle for about five miles. It's not much, but it's a start.

These 30-day challenge things seem a bit cheesy, but I've noticed that they get results. The other day, I was running out of steam at work at the end of my 12-hour stint. I picked up a packet of M&Ms to give me some energy, but I couldn't finish them. The first taste of chocolate was great, but after that I didn't enjoy the experience. It tasted as if I were eating wax flavored with a lot of chemicals. Probably I was. Maybe going a month sans car will lead me to automatically reach for my bike helmet instead of my car keys.

Site du jour: SuperMarket Sweep blog. Last weekend in San Francisco there was the 6th annual Supermarket Sweep race, where participants go to local grocery stores -- on their bicycles -- and haul food back to donate it to charity. The winners hauled 845 pounds in 2 hours. (It was a father-and-son team on a tandem. They had a long line of grocery carts, filled with groceries and linked together, that they hauled up and down S.F. hills.) Makes my little grocery run (1 pannier) look pretty wimpy.

Exercise du jour: This week, I'm aiming for 5 miles of walking a day and 15 minutes ellipticalling at night.
Most emphatic FAIL.
Yes, I did walk about 2 miles, what with my commute to the Max and the trek down to the cafeteria for the morning coffee, but other than that -- Pffft!
My legs felt swollen at the start of the day.
It only got worse as the day went on. I couldn't even touch my toes. (No, that's not normal. Usually I can almost touch my palms to the carpet.)
Don't ask me what the problem was today. I don't know. I didn't exercise at all yesterday, neither did I feel sore from the bike ride the day before. I'm pretty sure that starting my cycle wouldn't cause my hamstring muscles to throw a hissy fit. On the walk home, it was so bad that I was limping. Noticeably.
I think this is a sign that I should chalk the day up to Whatever and try again tomorrow.


messymimi said...

Since it takes 21-28 days to make a new habit, these challenges aren't cheesy, they are smart.

Good luck, and glad the M&M's don't taste so great any more. Stick to small bites of high quality chocolate, it's better for you.

Shelley said...

I find that I'm not wanting candy much anymore - although I did have a Ghiradelli chocolate square at the race expo and it was pretty good. But I didn't want to go out and buy a bag of them, so that is progress to me!

The car challenge sounds too challenging to me. But then again, I live in an area of stupid large pick up trucks and biking around here scares me if I leave my neighborhood. Good luck with it!

EcoCatLady said...

Good thing that father & son team had the grocery carts secured firmly... sounds like it could have easily turned into a scene from a slapstick comedy movie!

I know what you mean about the candy, I have the same experience with gum. The smell still occasionally tricks me into thinking it will be good, but then it just tastes like toxic waste. Same thing with most cheap candy. Expensive Swiss chocolate on the other hand... :)

EcoCatLady said...

p.s. I went for a month without a car a while back and it turned out to be not much of a big deal. I did have to order cat food on-line, but if I hadn't been such a lazy ass I probably could have ridden across town to the one store that carries their ridiculously expensive Paw Lickin' Chicken... but I'm not sure if I could haul a month's worth in one trip... Of course now that it's 5 degrees outside with snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm, I won't be biking anywhere any time soon!

Crabby McSlacker said...

What a great 30 day challenge! But sorry about the swelling.

Oh, and chalking a frustrating day up to Whatever and trying again? Best advice ever for long term success.

azusmom said...

Hope you're feeling better!
This sounds like a GREAT challenge! (Having lived in California for 17 years, I can't imagine life without a car anymore, lol!)

Anonymous said...

Okay one- your challenges are inspiring, and ya know, kinda scary too.

And B: I know all too damn well about those "whatever" days and not being able to figure out what the hell is going on with my puffy, misbehaving body. (Right, the entire no-more-smoking thing is pretty big, but still.)

Last, I need to get some more gear for my biking, because I know I'll use it more if I can haul stuff and lock it up (neither of which I can do now).

Glad you are back and going strong.! :)