Sunday, November 10, 2013
Daylight savings time always wrecks my life. Before the clocks change, there is still sunlight when I get back from work, but after the clocks change it is dark when I leave my house and dark when I get home. All I want to do is come home and sleep. 7 PM feels like midnight. I can hardly get it together to make dinner, let alone go to the gym. So, last week I was having a pity party for myself and whining about my commute, which eats up an hour of my life each way. I hate the commute, but there is not much I can do about it right now. The distance between my work and my house is not going to change in the next six months. Meanwhile, all of the work I did this summer is going to seed--all of my muscles have turned into fat and I am finding that I need to start over when I do make it through an exercise routine. I feel like a marshmallow. The commute is killing me.
I started thinking about ways I could add exercise into my work schedule. I tried to walk during lunch. That worked for two days. Then I forget my lunch at home. Driving to buy lunch meant no time for walking. Then I got busy and needed to work through lunch--a bad habit but better than staying late. Then it was raining and cold. Clearly this is a great idea that occasionally works, but I can't count on it. I needed a new plan, and fast.
I've had jobs in the past where I lived within a mile or two of work. I was able to take the bus or walk and live without a car. The "commute" still took an hour, but it was an hour of walking, not driving. I don't remember ever being angry about it; I actually enjoyed getting to work and back. So, I decided to do something radical and think outside of the box. Rather than look for a way to shorten my commute, I committed to making it longer.
There is a train that goes from the city I live in to the city I work in, but there is no bus to get me from the train station to work. I've been curious about whether or not it was possible to walk, but I haven't acted on it because I am a teacher and I can't be late because I have class period 1. There are a few days a year when there are no students and work is more flexible. We had parent teacher conferences last week, and I decided it was now or never to try taking the train to work. I told my boss that I was going to try it and see how long it took, then I set my alarm for an hour earlier.
To get to work on time, I need to be in the car by 6:45, but to take the train to work, I need to leave by 6:00. I thought this would be a horrible thing, but I was determined to try. I rolled out of bed a bit earlier and put on my tennis shoes. I walked 20 minutes to the train station, bought my ticket, and even had time to stop at McDonald's for a green tea. The 6:30 train is an express train, so it only takes 30 minutes. I got off the train, and started walking to work, which is close to two miles from the station. I went straight to the main office when I arrived to check the time. 7:40 on the dot. I was exactly on time! I was in a good mood all day. When work was over, I walked back to the train station, got on the train, and walked home. I got home at the same time I would have gotten home if I went to the gym. I felt so good about my experiment on Thursday that I tried it again on Friday. It started raining on the way to work, so I walked to a store during lunch and bought an umbrella. Problem solved. I am not giving this up. I am going to buy a long, warm coat and good boots. There is no reason to suffer through a miserable commute in a car when I have access to a train and two feet.
Now, I am wondering why I waited so long to do something that feels healthy and makes life better. I think it just goes to show that people do things exactly when they are ready to do so and no sooner. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, but this summer I decided to do something radical and make my body my number one priority. I felt great and lost 30 pounds, but I slowly lost all momentum once work started. When I finally forced myself to confront the issue, I came up with a plan that does not seem logical or practical, but is perfect for me. Sometimes being willing to think outside of the box and do the one thing that scares you makes all the difference. For me, doubling my commute seemed terrifying, but it is just what I needed. I am now getting close to two hours of walking time and four hours of stress free relaxation. Two of my colleagues had positive things to say. When I told them that taking the train would double my commute, one said "at least you are getting something out of it" and the other said "it is worth it!" They were completely right!