Eva Bradley: Fitness set to muscle in

By Eva Bradley

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Eva Bradley.
Eva Bradley.

Sometimes it is the small things that create the biggest headaches.

Whenever I'm really busy and the "to do" list seems to be stretching into eternity, my strategy is always to attack the big jobs first.

There is no particular logic to this except that mentally I feel that if you're going to take on an army of invading monsters, you need to throw yourself at the biggest and scariest of them first so that anything coming after seems insignificant by comparison.

The trouble with this method of prioritising, however, is that big monsters have a habit of just constantly turning up out of nowhere so that the little guys get batted away to the back of the ranks and never given the attention they deserve.

In the metaphor of my life, work is the big, scary monster and exercise is its smaller, more insignificant little half-cousin once removed, always being bumped to the back of the queue.

On Monday for precisely one week, all this will change. Not because the work monster is going anywhere, but because I've publicly signed up to make the little guy top dog.

The TripSwitch campaign is a commitment by entrants to switch one journey a day from the car to walking or biking. People who sign on stand to win all sorts of cool prizes. As an ambassador I just stand to be publicly held to account if I fail.

Which is just the sort of kick up the posterior I need to change bad habits in my life - chief among them my tendency to make exercise the lowest priority.

I pretty much take my car everywhere; to the dairy for milk, to work and back, across town to visit friends. I even drive the five minute run to my personal trainer, only to get there and be put on the treadmill for five minutes to warm up.

It's not that I'm lazy, I'm just busy. If there is five minutes to spare, I'll cram 10 minutes' work into it, and despite my best intentions to walk somewhere close by, I'll tap out one more email or edit one more picture so that inevitably the only way to get to the next destination is by car, and fast.

So with this sort of track record, how do I switch my trips? Habits are hard things to break and for me, I'm not just breaking the habit of skipping exercise, but the bigger one of leaving things to the last minute so I'm always in a hurry.

My strategy is to make a firm commitment to leaving for any job or commitment 10 minutes earlier than I need to, with the net result after the inevitable faffing around and cramming-in of quick jobs meaning I'll be leaving on time for a change, thereby facilitating those vital few minutes to travel by foot or bike.

How I then do that without the benefit of a large boot to transport my usual slew of camera gear is another challenge in itself. Maybe it's time to go old-school with my shooting style - one lens instead of five and natural light instead of flash units and lighting stands - the way it used to be before I knew what to do with all the complicated gear and before I could afford it.

Next week is about going back to basics ... putting the brakes on a too-busy life and perhaps achieving a little less but doing what can be managed with more style and grace.

I hope that at the end of the week I will have proved to myself that not only can I switch my trips from car to bike and foot, but in doing so I can switch bad habits to good ones.

- Northern Advocate

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