Watching a whopping number of exercise videos (five to be exact), led me to theorize that squats were the gold standard of low-impact fitness—and that perhaps, they were “safe” enough to do repeatedly in different variations for 30-40 minutes each day. Only part of this theory is true, for me at least. I run on a regular basis, so my calves and feet are shot. Adding a “jumping around” routine is only going to result in a permanent Charlie horse-like state for both of my legs. The words, “Nate, carry me,” are already wearing out their welcome around this house, so I’d better avoid cramping scenarios as much as possible. For this reason, I turned to low-impact exercise videos and discovered that 30-40 minutes of squatting every day results in a new kind of muscle pain. It’s one that feels like the hip/buttocks muscle, on just the right side, is winding itself up tightly like a rubber band and it’s about to spring loose, which means the right hip/buttock could become dislodged from the body and end up on the floor where everyone will carelessly trip over it. Still, I needed to do something. Even if I do run/pedal the stationary bike/use the elliptical machine for 30-60 minutes a day, this amount of activity doesn’t quite make up for all of the other time I spend at my desk—and on the couch after the day is over. It wouldn’t hurt to get in a little extra movement—and walking with Nate is a great alternative to squat videos. Nate is much more interesting than listening to the following things that I’ve memorized from the segments I’ve watched:
“Let’s burn it out hard!”
“Every winner was once a beginner!”
“Peanut, get off the mat!” (Peanut is a dog in an exercise video. I’m not kidding.)
“Let’s get some lubrication in there for our warm-up. I call it juice in the joints.” (Yes—this does sound weird. I swear it’s for an exercise video—and not other kinds of videos.)
Still, I could probably up the game a bit more—make the conversation more meaningful. Here’s how our conversation usually goes, when Nate and I step out for a walk:
Me: I am not stopping for anything, Nate. A good 30-minute walk at a moderate pace. That’s what we’re aiming for. If we stop, we might not continue.
Nate: Oh, look! That cute cat—here he comes.
Me: Do NOT pet it! You won’t keep walking—go! Go! Go!
Nate: A truck! It’s turning! We can’t cross!
Me: Like hell we can’t—pick up the pace! Go! Outrun the truck!
Nate: Hey, a neighbor is waving to us.
Neighbor: Hey, do you both want to . . .
Me: We can’t slow down—sorry!
Neighbor: Oh, no problem—enjoy your walk.
Nate: Cecilia, that was rude.
Me: Oh, come on—I said “sorry”—I wouldn’t avoid that neighbor otherwise—we’re walking.
Nate: A sprinkler—we should slow down to figure out the pattern—see if we could get around it.
Me: No, we’re not slowing down. Go! Go! Step off the curb.
Nate: But there’s traffic.
Me: Just hug the curb while you’re in the street. Hug the curb, Nate. Hug it!
As you can see, Nate and I are walking, but are we really connecting? No. No, we’re not. I could get the same effect from watching an exercise video: Run like hell! Go! Go! Pick up the pace! Hug that curb! It all sounds so disappointingly familiar. I sound like an exercise video! I might as well ruin everything by just squatting in the middle of the street. In other words, we could walk, or we could walk better with just one small addition: Conversation cards.
Conversation cards are just the thing we need as we’re walking. Oh, the fun! I can already picture all of the fun! The neighbors will be so jealous—or maybe they’ll join us—as long as they don’t stop to pet cats or let trucks turn the corner.
I could make up the conversation cards and every three steps, Nate and I could switch to a new topic. Here are 15 topics/games I’ve brainstormed already:
- If you were a beer (or pizza, dessert, cocktail, soda), what kind of beer (or pizza, dessert, cocktail, soda) would you be and why?
- What exercise would you give your worst enemy? (That one is easy for me: )
- When will we get a pool in our backyard? (There are lots of good reasons to get a pool in the backyard: cuts down on driving (to a pool), after a walk we could get in the pool, no limit on floaty toys, no “quiet hours,” etc.)
- Where will we live next?
- The next house we pass, describe how you’d landscape it. (Nate would add hosta plants and lilac bushes; I’d add a slide from the chimney to the driveway.)
- The next neighbor we pass, describe a makeover you’d give that person. (Nate doesn’t do makeovers, but it’s important to “stretch the mind” a little bit. That’s why I’m throwing this one in.)
- The next neighbor we pass, guess what they’re thinking.
- In the next minute, name every menu item you would include in a luau-themed buffet.
- What are at least five things you could do with tissue paper and a hot glue gun?
- Argue in favor of placing a tiny house in the backyard, next to the pool we so desperately need.
- Invent a new flavor/kind of pizza.
- Name all of the places/situations in which a safety vest is NOT needed.
- What are the best ideas/shapes for pool floats you’ve seen online or on Facebook?
- What are some unusual activities for a neighborhood block party? (A bouncy house beer garden might be all that’s needed.)
- Name the most disgusting thing you’ve seen on your Facebook news feed or online. (For me, it’s the pumpkin spice hotdog. Here’s a video so that you can experience the horror as well: How to Make Pumpkin Spice Hot Dogs: Spice up your Dog with a Twist.)
I figure each question could take two minutes to answer. Those 30 minutes will just fly by! Trucks and cats? What trucks and cats? We’re too busy. We’re too busy walking and talking—creating a meaningful and magical 1 ½ mile no-squat zone.
Your turn: Feel free to answer any of the 15 questions above—or make up your own below.