|My mother-in-law Margot & me looking unusually sporty in an old zip-lining photograph taken in Quebec.|
If I asked you to imagine a 'Mommy & Me' fitness movement, I bet what would spring to mind is a bunch of snotty-nosed tots and their mothers running around brightly colored gyms, moms chattering idly away about environmentally-savvy diaper disposal methods.
I bet you would NOT be picturing a slightly plump woman and her pseudo-mother-in-law taking to the mean streets of Toronto in a power walk shuffle. And yet such initiatives do actually exist. I know it because I live it.
But it's not like I just woke up one morning and said to myself, "I should stop being so darn sedentary and start working out with my mother-in-law." That would have been nice but unrealistic, considering I generally try to avoid all forms of exercise (apart from yoga) like the plague.
What happened to me had much more to do with circumstance, and a sometimes elusive little luxury I like to call a fresh cup of coffee. So here's the back story on how I acidentally started to exercise with my significant other's mother:
Two weeks ago, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) experienced our very own version of the great flood. It seemed that God was angry at us for our inflated sense of self-worth, for our inflated condo fees, and for our sad excuse of a hockey team. So he/she unleashed snakes on our GO trains, flushed our roads and basements with rainwater, and left the fine people of Etobicoke without power for 48 straight hours.
I was one of these folks from the 'Coke without power, and while it was generally sunny enough to get by without using candles, there were other annoying things we couldn't do at home like 1) have a hot shower 2) watch TV or connect to the internet 3) make ourselves our usual morning java. To add insult to injury, even the subway system wasn't working in the West until you reached Jane Station (a good 10-15 minutes away from me by foot) so unless I wanted to cram into a jammed bus I'd have to huff it the whole way.
In dire need of coffee and fed up with staring at the walls before work (before the power went out I used to stare at my Facebook wall before work), my mother-in-law (who lives with us) and I decided that we'd have to leave the house early to hit up a coffee shop on our way to the nearest functioning subway stop. Considering most places were just opening up around the time we set out, we found ourselves traveling further and further in search of the Holy Grounds. By the time we found decent coffee we were at High Park, and the next day we made it all the way to Keele. It became a fun morning ritual that distracted us from the fact that we hadn't properly showered in a while, and also had some other surprising perks to it. Whereas before the power went out I was always finding myself rushing to get to work on time, I was suddenly making it there with time to spare, and also building up a sweat while doing it.
Then the power came back on. For the first few days I'll admit that I reverted back into the dreadful social-media drone in the mornings, but found that I was starting to miss my morning walks. Sure, we could make ourselves our own coffee again, but what I missed more was the talking and walking, and connecting with the sunlight instead of my computer. All that stuff they talk about when they talk about being unplugged.
As for my MIL? She's an avid walker, so our little morning ritual's actually more of a warm-up for her than a main attraction. But I think she's happy to share something with me that's kept her in such good shape all these years. So now we are back to power-walking together rain or shine, coffee or no coffee, just for the simply pleasure of moving.
In a way my morning walks have helped me prioritize what's important to me, even if it took a power outage to realize it. They've helped me to push myself a little bit harder, even with the smallest of details, like wrapping up this post tonight. See, I thought about finishing it in the morning, but I have somewhere to be...and someone to walk with.