Harness your own energy

I went running yesterday, just two days after the first two feet of snow had fallen from the sky.  The roads were still slick and the air was still brisk, but the scenery of the untouched white snow was worth the required ice-dodging and cold, icy breathe.

After the beautiful 5 mile or so refreshing run, I went inside only to immediately venture back outside on my porch to cool my body off.  I plopped myself down on a chair still filled with inches of powdery, cold snow.  It actually felt amazing.  After a few minutes of enjoying the crisp air, I decided to come back inside before it looked like I peed myself and before the chair full of snow turned into sweatpants full of water.  But, not before I grabbed myself a gigantic, glassy icicle hanging from the roof.  After doing so, I proceeded inside, laid down on the floor, and relaxed until that entire icicle had melted in my mouth.

But my glorious run is not really what I want the focus of my post to be about today.  Instead, I actually want to talk about what a man said to me as I passed him on my run yesterday.  While running through the slippery slush-filled streets, I passed a man at the end of his driveway who called out, “If you have so much energy, there’s plenty of snow around to shovel!”  I called back, “Yup, I already did some of that,” which was the truth.  My dad and I had shoveled out everyone’s car in the driveway yesterday (4 cars) and helped to create a clear walking path amongst the solid 2 feet of snow.

But the man’s comment had me thinking my whole run home.  Many people, particularly Americans, claim that they don’t have the energy and/or time to plow their driveway, or grow a garden, or cook their own food, so instead they pay someone, or some machine, to do it for them.  At the same time, these same people will go to the gym and run and work their butt off for 1-2 hours at a time.  After wasting all their energy, they’ll swing by and pick up take-out on their way home because after such a long day, they’re too tired to cook some food.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of working out and do so quite often, but I do not look highly of it when it gets in the way of actual, useful laborious hard-work.  The effort put forth at the gym does nothing but produce a nice looking body.  This same body can be shaped through doing hard work, such as gardening, that not only produces a healthy body, but healthy food and a healthy environment as well.  Exercise is a necessity to keep a healthy and happy body and mind, but like the gym, acts such as shoveling the driveway and growing a garden are certainly a great workout.  Laborious acts such as these allow you to actually reap some fruits of your labor besides solely an award winning body, and allow you to give back to those around you.

In the summer, I don’t usually bother wasting my money on the gym, and instead I stick to running on the roads and working in the outdoors around me.  I get a nice ab workout through hoeing rows and whacking weeds in my garden, and an arm workout through lifting and shoveling huge piles of fertilizer to nourish my little babies.  Mowing the grass and bending down to pick the vegetables isn’t bad for my legs either.  And there’s no way I’d ever need to or want to waste my money (or health) on a tanning salon, for the hours spent outside in my garden give me both a beautifully and naturally sun-tanned body.

The man calling to me from the road was right.  If I hadn’t helped shovel some snow, then I definitely shouldn’t of been running.  There’s plenty of work that always needs to be done around the house or others’ houses that often going to the gym is just a waste of time.  Lucky for me, I’m a young adult full of energy, so I can both shovel my share of snow and get my legs running alongside the beautiful snow-covered hills.  However, looking back, I should have stopped my run and helped the man finish shoveling his driveway.  My youthful energy could’ve been put to use to help someone else, rather than just wasting it all on myself.

Before you hit the gym, think about what you could be doing around your house, or maybe your neighbor’s house.  Don’t waste your money on a snow blower or the snow plow man.  Put those muscles to work and rely on your own body to dig yourself out.  And if you have the land, I definitely advocate starting a garden this upcoming year (once the snow is gone, of course).  If you don’t have the land, seek out the closest community garden and put your energy to use there.  Use your energy to produce your own produce and cook your own healthy food creating a healthy, productive “you”.

America as a whole is becoming more and more technologized, driving many of us away from nature, which is why the environment around us is gradually falling to pieces.  Many of us sit all day on computers at work, and then hop in our cars, drive to the gym, and plop ourselves on another machine, the treadmill.  Then we drive home, microwave our food, and plant ourselves in front of the tv.  It’s a nonstop cycle of technology and machinery usage, which wastes a lot of energy, harms the environment, and produces little for society.

We need to slow ourselves down and bring ourselves back to the Earth.  Let’s use our inherent energy to actually do things that contribute to society, and spend some more time soaking up the inherently beautiful nature surrounding us, rather than contributing to its destruction.

A bit of a ranting, jumbled post, but hopefully you’re able to see what I’m getting at.

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  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    December 22, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Nice, insightful post. I agree. The other thing is, getting a natural workout–by shoveling snow or weeding out a garden–gives you a better workout. That’s because you’re using all the muscles needed for an activity. The machines at the gym, on the other hand, just work isolated muscles. Shoveling challenges your entire arms and legs, plus your back and abs, too. It’d be hard to target ALL of those muscles by using weight machines at the gym. Because of that, I think that strengthening your muscles in that way better prepare them for everyday activities. Because what use is it going to the gym to get toned arms if you can’t hoist a heavy bag of dog food into your car?

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    December 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I’m with you and think the best form of exercise is when you can work it into your daily routine! We try and take public transportation whenever possibly and even just walking the the bus and train usually ends up being almost 2 miles and it’s definitely not as monotonous as running on a treadmill! 🙂 Great post – I’m just impressed you ran in this weather!!!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

    This post is so inspiring. My grandmother shared similar wisdom with me a year ago. We were chatting about how ‘back in the day’ they ate real butter, cheese, meat, and bacon fat straight from their farm, but everyone was fit. She commented on how people can’t do that anymore because they don’t work on a farm all day then wash a family’s clothes by hand on a washboard, garden, etc. etc. Technology is ruining us instead of helping us. The simple things in life are always more enjoyable, yet we overlook these so easily. Thank you for the reminder to bring me back to EARTH!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 11:46 am

    That is why I am enjoying the simple life over here on the island. There are so many things to do outside and having an ocean view almost everywhere makes you want to be outside. It is rainy season now, but I can’t wait until this weather passes. Ryan was watching the neighbors herding cows and almost went out to help. I have a feeling before we leave here he will go out in the fields with them.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    i am SO impressed by your running in the cold-ness 🙂

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Great job running in the snow! You truly seemed to enjoy it! Great! 🙂

    And great points about being mindful of how we spend our energy. I think you made excellent points. Great reminders! 🙂

  • Reply
    Peanut Butter Bliss
    December 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I really like this insightful post because its SOOOO true. Although I do think the man was kind of rude for even saying that considering he doesn’t know you or that you already helped shovel.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I agree, very insightful. Should I feel guilty about hitting up the treadmill in just a moment WITH the TV on right in front of me? Probably. Wish I were better at reading while running, but that takes some serious skill and lack of motion sickness.

    Good for you in braving the elements, I bet it was fun!

    P.S. I left you a blog award just now!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    This was a great post! If you look at OLD pictures you will notice that most of the people were NOT overweight but I don’t recall any 24 hour fitness gyms in the 1930’s hmmmmmmmmmm

  • Reply
    December 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    That was an insightful post! I have to admit though that’d I’d rather run on a treadmill than scoop snow, even though scooping snow would be better exercise and more useful… I’ll definitely think twice next time I try to get out of yard work from now on though thanks to your post!

  • Reply
    Diane Fit to the Finish
    December 22, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    You should get a prize for running and exercising in the snow. We only get snow once or twice a year, although it does get cold here in the mornings when I exercise.

    Yard work is a great exercise! Congrats on your motivation and dedication!

  • Reply
    Diana (Soap & Chocolate)
    December 22, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    What a great perspective! I will fully admit to never giving a thought to *how* I spend my energy so much as whether or not I moved around enough in a given day. What a different world we live in today, where we don’t have to shovel a driveway if we don’t want to, nor do we have to actually run on the ground if we don’t want to–there are treadmills for that!

  • Reply
    December 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Oooh I really like your thoughts and insight on this one. I love the gym, always have, always will- but I also don’t mind hard work. I am looking forward to one day, being able to walk everywhere, and not drive, grow my own garden, compost, recycle, ride my bike, do my own yard work, etc, etc.- but right now, I see the gym, my yoga practice first and foremost in my “workout regimen” (lol) and then any laborious work (like right now I’m working as a stock girl at the Coach store, and its a lot of heavy lifting, moving on my feet, hard work for a seasonal job) that comes on top of that, I see as an extra workout. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

    P.S. There’s no snow to shovel in Tucson! haha 🙂

  • Reply
    tips roulette
    January 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    This brings me to an idea:…

  • Reply
    Roulette Teknikker
    January 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

  • Reply
    Mr Rotovator!
    April 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

    A little off topic maybe, and we all know that keen gardeners are told by lots of people to be green, but it’s also important that you think about people cost. For example, some brands of rotovators are made with child labor in Asia. So PLEASE think about the source of your rotovator is coming from when you buy. A cultivator manufactured in the US may not be cheap, but it’s a very important decision.

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