Advice from the Skillful Dog: Seasonal Activities

Question: I stay in shape by jogging nearly every day.  During the summer, I have so much energy and love exercising outside, so I really enjoy going for a run every morning.  But as the weather gets cold, I have to force myself to get out of bed to go running.  As a result, I am not in as good shape as I am during the summer and I beat myself up about it. How can I maintain my willpower to stay in shape even in the winter?

Answer:  To begin, it is important that you redefine what it means to be “in good shape.” Thinking about this in earnest, would you say a person who can run a marathon is in good shape if they come home to a house of turmoil and madness? As just one example, our relationships are a very critical indicator of our health and state of existence. And there are other areas of our lives that deserve similar recognition. Indeed, the changing conditions of the season give us the excuse and opportunity to make the necessary adjustments–an adjustment I would call Skillful Living.

Getting back to your question…running, while appropriate during the times of year that the weather is conducive to the activity seems like a good idea, but perhaps your body, appropriately uncomfortable in the cold with only a sweatsuit on,  is actually trying to guide you to an appreciation of other aspects of your life that need attention as well.

Rather than resist this notion or feel guilty about “inactivity,” I would shift your perspective and look for, if not embrace, a new activity more suitable to the weather outside. I think you might find that when you do a more seasonally appropriate activity you will find more energy for the undertaking. Alternatively, perhaps this is a time to come inside, and pursue something altogether different, such as writing letters to old friends, mending fences inside your home, resting and restoring-collectively this is a time for removing obstacles and preserving your energy, while beginning to collect your thoughts and plans for activities that you might begin in the spring. Relax into it, the time is right for something different. The season for heavy lifting has ended. Ultimately,  when you figure that out and come into the rhythm of nature you will bring yourself closer to the state of health you desire. Running alone will not get you there.

Share how your activities change with the seasons or submit your own question in the comments section.

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