One day, near the end of December, it dawned on me that I had gotten too comfortable in my house and expandable sweatpants.
It was on one of those days where I had to be somewhere, but I didn’t know what to wear. I pulled out a pair of dress pants, but they were tight. I know, I thought. I’ll wear something from my “loose” clothes (AKA clothes I wore postpartum). After grabbing a faithful pair of brown slacks, I was shocked to realize that these, too, were tight.
It wasn’t the weight that worried me. (It was still 2020, after all.) But it was the reason behind the pounds: I had turned into a hibernating bear! Four or five days would go by, and I’d realize that I had not left the house at all! Every morning, I reached for comfy sweatpants and an oversized sweatshirt.
I needed a change.
So I dedicated the next 31 days to combat my sedentary life. I made two simple rules:
- Get dressed for real.
- Go out.
I’m not what you would call a polished mom. Growing up, the person I knew as a real lady was my great-grandma Watnaas. I remember watching her pick out her best dress and put on her lipstick to go to town.
In comparison, when I get ready, I have elements of frump. (It might be because my mind is going in so many different places that I forget the finishing touches.) I’m fine with my messy hair-bun look, but I am not okay with the yoga-pants-wearing, stuck-in-my-house mom I had become.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a mom wearing yoga pants. But what was wrong was the attitude I had adopted. I wasn’t wearing these clothes to work out. I was wearing them because they were comfortable. This brought out the lazy in me. It might be a good look for the weekend, but I needed a change of pace. So here I am—day one. Let’s do this.
Real pants. Check.
Out the door. Check.
I woke up with the Samuel Johnson quote in my head, “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”
All I wanted to do was stay in my soft pajamas. But, alas, I relented. I opted for a thermal shirt under an Ann Taylor sweater and jeans (I am by no means fashionable).
My weather app said Omaha’s temp was 9℉! There was no way I was going outside.
My dread was in full force, but then I received an e-mail with this article from Linda McGurk, author of There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather. She reminded me to embrace the cold weather.
By the time the kids and I ate breakfast, the sun warmed the temperature to 19℉. Not exactly balmy, but better.
We bundled up, and out we went. To my surprise, the sun felt warm on my face. Because there was no wind, the weather was bearable. We soon joined up with the neighbor kids. I sat on my neighbor’s front steps, soaked in the sun, and watched the kids play “King of the Mountain” on the pile of snow left from the snowplow.
My husband and I made a plan last night for some winter sledding fun. When morning came, I remembered a writing deadline. I MUST stay home and work on my deadline.
But, last minute, I choose sledding.
To my surprise, after a fun-filled morning, I was energized. I sat down at my computer and knocked out my work.
Sundays and Mondays are the most manageable days for this challenge. I naturally go out. And since I’m seeing people, I’m already conscious of not looking too wrinkled.
But today, in the spirit of the challenge, I decided to switch up my routine: I went to Target.
Confession: I have not been to Target since we moved here in May!
We moved at a weird time during the pandemic. I haven’t been to many places in Omaha. So, this was a big deal for me.
There were so many new and shiny things at Target! I ended up getting a new shirt, marking it as “research” for this Get-Dressed-and-Out-of-the-House challenge. My daughter was happy with some cheddar bunny crackers.
Who knows? Maybe next we’ll go to the library!
After spending all day inside—the sun hiding behind clouds—I had pretty much given up hope. This will be the day I don’t complete my challenge, I thought.
Then I saw the bird feeder was empty.
The birds were depending on me.
Once outside, the air felt good in my lungs. I came back inside and told the kids we should walk down the street to see if anyone was playing outside. The dog jumped up, begging to come.
Two hours later, we returned with red cheeks and bright eyes.
The cloudy days are getting to me. In the kitchen, as I looked out the window, I said, “Even though my head says no, my heart says yes.”
“Does your stomach say yes, too?” my three-year-old daughter asked.
I thought about it for a second. “Sure,” I responded.
The next thing I knew, we were planning for a hot dog and marshmallow roast in our backyard.
I really like 31-day challenges because they have a way of becoming a part of my whole year. In the past, I’ve done a no-spend month and a no-sugar month. It was a little different to do a Get-dressed-and-Out-of-the-House challenge, but it was what I needed.
As I look at the past 31 days, I realize we didn’t always “go” somewhere. Most of the time, we stayed in our neighborhood. However, there were a few things I learned about getting outside:
- My kids and I slept better and had happier dispositions after we’d been outside. I found my work inside improved, as I had more energy and better focus.
- The hardest part of getting out of the house was ACTUALLY getting out. Once we were outside or at the place we needed to be, we enjoyed ourselves.
- I’m more likely to get out of the house if it’s part of my routine. Small habits like checking the mail or feeding the birds became essential.
- Outdoors is better with friends. We definitely stayed out longer whenever friends came to play.
As for getting dressed in real clothes every day? Bundling up was key. Even if I spent most of the day inside, I felt warmer with my two layers. And if I started warm, it was a lot easier to go outside.
Getting dressed set the tone for the day. Whether it was housework, writing work, or something else, I was more active and less likely to crawl back into bed.
I haven’t re-tried on the pants that initiated this project. Losing weight wasn’t my goal. My goal was to be active again.
Walking in the woods, making snowmen, sledding, playing with neighbors. Check.
Here’s to the next adventure!