Habit Experiment: September Recap, October Kickoff

September Recap

I hung on—just barely—to my goals this month. Here they are, as a reminder:

1) Drive 785 miles or less for the month.

2) Experiment with car-free travel options to local destinations.

As we headed out to hike on Sunday, we realized that we’d only driven 89 miles since last weekend. That was pretty amazing, and is perhaps a sign that we’re getting into the swing of this less-driving thing.

When September began, the odometer read 118,716. As of this morning, it’s at 119,401. We still need to drive to our afternoon activities, which will add another 20 miles, bringing the total for the month to 705. I admit, I was helped a little bit by my mom’s visit since we drove her car to go camping, but even that would only have been another 50 miles round-trip, so I still would have met my goal.

For October, I’m going to increase my goal to 800 driving miles for the month because it’s a longer month and because we’ve got a couple of longer trips planned. We’re already taking the train for one of the trips, and I’m toying with the idea of taking the train for the other, but I doubt I’ll get buy-in for that plan from my spouse. He’s more pragmatic about car-light travel than I am and uses a broader definition of “suffering” than I do.

Oddly enough, even though I’m driving less I’ve not done very well with my exercise this month. I’ve only gotten more than 10,000 steps a handful of days, and I’ve not done any strength-training. And I’ve put on three pounds. We’ll see how I do in October.

Speaking of October…

October’s habit is:

Sleep More

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Habit Experiment: August Recap, September Kickoff

August Recap

I kind of derailed myself this month. My habit for August was exercise, and to jog your memory, here are my goals:

1) Walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.

2) Do 30 minutes of resistance training each day.

3) Keep a log of my exercise and internet use.

The first week I did great. I didn’t keep a log of my internet use, but I kept track of my steps and my other exercise, and I walked at least 10,000 steps every day but one. In fact, I found 10,000 steps so easy, I decided to increase the goal to 20,000 steps a day for the following week (keeping the 30 minutes of daily resistance training), and then just to make it even more fun, I started writing every morning for 30 minutes before my first walk (January’s habit).

And then…I hit the wall.

The third weekend in August I attended a silent meditation retreat (I’ll post about that eventually). The week preceding the retreat I only broke 10,000 steps one day, and I didn’t do resistance training even once. In the week since the retreat, I’m meditating every morning (November’s habit), but I’ve not gone for my morning walk even once. In my defense, my cat got sick the day I got back from the retreat, and between emergency vet visits, clean-up of feline bodily fluids, and endless loads of laundry, my mornings have been rather hectic.

With my cat essentially in home hospice care, I know what the ultimate result will be, but I don’t know how long it will be until then, nor do I know exactly what kind of care the intervening days/weeks/months will involve. But I’ll do my best to fall back into my exercise routine and be gentle with myself in the process.

On to September

In the meantime, September’s habit is:

Drive Less

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Your Walkable Neighborhood

When I was a kid in military housing in California I could walk to school, a movie theater, a fast-food place, the commissary and the exchange (basically a grocery store and a department store), an ice cream place, a pool, and multiple playgrounds. In these places there were sidewalks, paths, or roads with large shoulders on which we could walk to reach our destinations in relative safety without taking the car. Once we moved away from California, this changed, and I spent the next 14 years of my life in places where walking not only wasn’t done, it wasn’t safe to do.

For our first decade together, my spouse and I lived in largely not-safe-to-walk areas. Then we moved out West and spent a wonderful  eight-plus years living in neighborhoods where we could walk safely and with relative ease to basic locations: grocery stores, cafes, playgrounds, libraries, farmers markets. I fear those years gave us a taste of something we’re going to struggle to find again.

CIMG8394In our current place of residence, we’re back to unsafe walking, and it’s really kind of bugging us. We are about a mile from a strip mall (grocery store, hair cutting place, Starbucks, an office supply store, a gym), two and a half miles from the downtown of our town, and four-and-a-half miles from our church. But to get to any of these places, we have to traverse along narrow sidewalk-less roads that we share with cars driving rather fast and not at all expecting to see a woman in a ridiculous sun hat pushing a stroller with a seven-year-old skipping along behind her.

What we’re wondering is, is how we’re living now the norm? Do most people live in places where they can safely walk to get a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee, or do most people live like we do now, close enough to walk but afraid to do so?

I want to hear from you. Do you live in a place where you could safely walk to get food? If not, does this bother you?

Please let me know in the comments. If you’re so inclined, you could figure out your neighborhood’s Walk Score and share that, too. Our current home scores 35/100. In California, it was 74, and in Utah it was 62-64. Brisbane (in Australia) gets a Walk Score of 100. (No wonder Tucker and Victoria love it so much!)