Keeping your body and life FIT.

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Movement Matters. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Daily Movement Multivitamin.

Modern life seems to come with this segmentation, where “life” is broken down into categories of obligation, with “work” (i.e. make money) at the top of the list. I get it; I’ve lived in this world my entire life and for years I’ve failed to fit it all in. To make matters even more interesting, you and I dwell in a society where movement isn’t required while occupying a body that certainly requires it. Is it possible to keep both our bodies and our life fit?

I have found great personal success—success being defined as “meeting my societal and physiological obligations”–not by breaking up my obligations and allotting time to these fractured components (i.e. 20 minutes to get food, 45 minutes for some exercise, an hour to spend with my kids, 4 hours to produce some work-thing),

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but by figuring out how to organize requirements in a way where the same portion of time fulfills multiple obligations.

 

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I always add work twice because, well, I have a lot of work obligations.

Last week, I had an interview with Prevention magazine, a package and bills that needed to be mailed, and an ongoing physiological requirement to move. I could have sat in a quiet room to take the call, and then driven past the post office on my way to the gym or park, but instead I did all three at once.

I packed up my backpack with the package and headed off toward the post office on foot, starting my phone call with “I’m ready for our interview, and I wanted to let you know that in efforts to reduce my screen time and sit less, I’m taking this call walking—if you hear any ambient noise, it’s because I’m outside walking! Let me know if this is an issue for you.” I also snapped a picture of me doing all three so that I could include it in a post about time management, so really I ended up getting additional work done via modeling the lesson I’m sharing with you today.

 

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Doing my tasks all at once freed up at least an hour in this case which I could then spend doing other stuff I wanted to do, like taking a food-gathering walk with my family, or reading a book, or some other obligation that I’d normally “not have time for.”

Last month a local organic farm requested volunteers to harvest berries one morning. Our entire family went—not because you could come pick an equal amount of berries for free the next week–but because in that two hour span we could serve our community, get TWO HOURS of squatting* and foraging movements (which normally we’d have to do sans any real context), eat berries, be outside, get our feet in the mud, hang out and visit with friends, show our kids how to pick berries (for 6 minutes before watching them meet and play with other kids), and did I mention hang out in a huge field of strawberries at 7 in the morning?

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These two hours managed to meet all my obligations, especially since the huzb took some photos so I could add “work” to my list in this case (even if your work is not as directly accomplished through strawberry picking, community events like this are a great way to network, whatever the service that you offer).

So anyhow, this is just a short post to say consider thinking outside the traditional time-management approach. There is success to be found via de-compartmentalizing your life back into a single thread.

*On pages 208-109 of Move Your DNA I talk about “living” in a squat. Where a squat isn’t a motion done in the same posture for a set of 10 or 20, but a very dynamic motion. Gathering berries is an excellent way to sort of crawl along the row in a squat, using your ankles, knees, and hips in ways that almost never occur in a modern setting.

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30 thoughts on “Keeping your body and life FIT.

  1. Thank you for this specific example of how you combine multiple “tasks” into your day! Sad but true that for our compartmentalized brains, we really have to work to understand how to do this in real life. Life is life…how did it get so whacked out? Anyway, it will be the BEST DAY EVER when I can squat like that again but until then I am working on fitting in every bit of movement into my day as part of what I would be doing anyway:).

  2. Very helpful to see how you incorporate movement into your daily life. One of your recent podcasts and posts on how to move when playing with children and how you go about our day – preparing food – all inspiring and motivating in helping to change paradigms. Thank you for all you are and do!!!

  3. Thank you for the wonderful tips! After reading your books and blog, I try to incorporate every movement at every bit of my life as much as I can. I get a lot of squats while playing in the garden with my 3-year-old son as he constantly moves from a squatting position to some other position.

  4. I LOVE this and your diagram is so spot-on. I am currently trying to arrange my life in such a way that I can be more effective with my time as well, and I find this post inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to put this together; I will certainly be sharing and passing along.

  5. Thank you Katy and huzb, for the photos and inspiring blogpost! I picked blueberries recently, and was doing the squat. I loved seeing the position you showed, since I wondered if I needed to try to keep my shins as vertical as possible, with my heels on the ground. Would that be a squat to aim for? I also was able to practice the “When in doubt, stick your butt out” (from your “Walk this way, stand this way” video)on the taller bushes. It was an absolutely GREAT workout, AND I came home with 34lbs. of lovely blueberries! I so appreciate all the help you’ve been in my life…I’ve been able to continually monitor what my different parts are doing. Keep it up, girl!

  6. Any advice on how to get your squat back?
    I lost it over the past 20 years due to knees that probably are out of track, too many step classes and attempts at running, then peri-menopause puffing up all my joints with estrogen. Now it feels like the muscles above the knees are too short and my ankles might even be weak and shortened. Doing a lunge is getting harder, too. My knee caps look like they point away from center.
    Overall, I have strength—every weekend I bicycle up a 3-mile steep hill and I can hike up mountains.
    I’m trying the squat starting both from standing and from all fours. I fear I’m permanently squat-less!

  7. Hi Katy,

    Excellent blog post! That makes a lot of sense. I’m hoping to integrate your ideas.

    I was wondering if you would be able to do some blog posts about recovering from repetitive strain/repetitive motion injuries – specifically upper body injuries stemming from intensive computer use and sedentary work/lifestyle.

    Thanks for all of your work.

    1. Robert, my sympathies as this is an eternal question/quest for me, too. Early years working exclusively with databases, clicking away all day long, coupled with weak upper body and total ignorance, left me in constant pain and on many periods of extended sick leave.

      I still live with the consequences (this all kicked off in the late 90s), but it’s been a journey of self discovery and I can honestly say that Katy has had the most profound effect on me, and that’s counting all the money I’ve spent on various specialists and practitioners. I have found an excellent, upbeat, holistic osteopath, who keeps bringing me back to alignment (I drift away ALL the time), but it’s Katy’s teachings that really opened my eyes.

      So I guess this reply hasn’t really helped you…except to say that much of what she writes/says helps me recover from RSI, poor alignment and a sedentary lifestyle. So I warmly invite you to keep up the journey, and integrate movement and alignment into your daily life. The very best of luck to you.

      Lisa

        1. Thanks for the response, Jenny. (For whatever reason your post did not display for me until today…) Much appreciated!

      1. This is very much appreciated, Lisa. Thank you! My RSI began in a similar way to how you described; you have my prayers.

        I agree. From everything I have tried, Katy’s teaching has helped the most. It is extremely hard not to get discouraged – but if one is not moving forward, it is likely that one is going backward. I will take your advice and continue to learn as much as is possible (and hopefully put just as much into practice!).

        Thanks again.

        Robert

  8. After I pee I do some push ups, or plank, or squats, then I wash my hands, when I brush my teeth I stand on one leg, I am finding ways to move when doing other activities it is fun to explore moving my body. Thanks Katy

  9. I never had a weight problem when I went from school days to a job where I walked for work. When they promoted me to a desk job, though… I sure miss that integrated, no-thought-required exercise.

  10. Love that you did a post on this! I’m smiling to myself that I must have looked totally bewildered when I asked you the question at RES week 🙂
    Anyway – thanks for the super post. Give the kids a hug. Ellie

  11. Thanks so much for these fantastic examples of Multi tasking!!!!!. Squatting is the best way for berry picking. As a summer fruit picker my squat should be ready by then. Since thinking about movement in different ways, thanks to your blog, I have been fairly active in the last two weeks at home I’ve got a standing work area and I sit on the floor to watch TV and stretch in the ads. (Tour De France is on, what aching backs they must all have!)) Starting back at University yesterday I was shocked by how everything around was for sitting. No standing in the lectures or tutorials and Ergo chairs that don’t allow cross legged sitting; 1.5 hours of bus travel – I’d never noticed the seats were specifically contoured to encourage slumping and tucking your pelvis. So I made sure to do my best and stretched my wrists, fingers and shoulder stretches. After all this sitting I got off the bus further from home at the shop. Loaded my back pack with dinner vegies and walked home, uphill, an extra km, with my shoes off on the grass verges for the last part, through a pouring rainstorm. And my reward for this extra effort to move? There was a rainbow at the top of the hill when I arrived home!!!!!!!. The universe puts out when you make that extra effort to enjoy it. My next task is to find a standing spot in lectures – One standing in three hundred, maybe I’ll get a convert and then we can call it a movement of movement!

    1. You might just find you aren’t alone when you do get the courage to do it. I went to a workshop recently and was thinking I should go stand in the back and when I turned around there were three people sitting on the floor, so I joined them, we had a great view of the speaker and could change position as much as we liked. I got a few funny looks from my coworkers but they already think I’m odd with my Katy like dynamic workstation. My time stretching happened to be the only thing worthwhile that came out of that two day workshop!

  12. I love that you and the family are barefoot – and you appear to be the only ones! Hilarious! I guess your fame has spread far and wide in your local community so everyone knows your ways? I wonder if (well-meaning) people ever approach you to say your children should be wearing shoes??

  13. I have to wonder though when it becomes too much and over stressing. “Oh, I only need 5 hours sleep now because I’m super active or I eat low carb.”

  14. I read this last night and thought it wasn’t possible to combine my obligations in this way… but this morning after another night of just 6 hours of sleep (because I do everything sequentially and before I know it, it’s midnight), I am inspired to make the necessary changes. Thank you.

  15. I sold my car for this very reason. I look at walking as a way to commute, get exercise, and meditate. I sometimes walk up to 7 miles a day. I feel so much better than in my previous car commuting days. Now, when I am occasionally in a car with someone else, I get so antsy, wishing I were walking.

  16. Loved the post. Enjoyed the picture of everyone in the field picking but I could only see one adult actually squatting! Were there more? Is there a “pickers warm-up” in prep?

    1. The squatter was me. Most people bent from the hips–not sure if they were in the habit of squatting already!

  17. All great tips, Katy, but I hope you will reconsider encouraging people to talk on their cell phone while walking. Besides the possibility of the health risk from talking on cell phones, it is a sign of the times that even on hiking trails (not just city streets) we encounter more and more people talking on their phones. Save cell phones for emergencies and quick, time sensitive calls!

    In the above example of incorporating movement into your daily life activities, why not save time by bicycling to your destination and taking that interview in a quiet room, on your landline, while squatting or sitting on the floor in various healthy, natural positions.

  18. Katy,
    I feel so happy when I access your books, on line course, and blogs! Your fun honouring of life forms and life and its amazingness is a big support to me.
    I think, with the evolving experiences* humans are exploring, that we are seeing great advancements of a soft or non-technological sort that make healing of many dis-eases restore community among humans, nature, and each of our 100 truillion cell sets.
    * Trauma release techniques that use the brain’s plasticity as well as hard wiring (EFT-“Tapping”, Peter Levine’s “Waking the Tiger” work, EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization Repatterning, Craniosacacral work as it taps into mid and ling tide energies, Body Mind Centering to name a few) and
    * ancient movements such as Chi Gong and Thai Chi.
    Your own vibrant take and personal sharing of Biomechanics and beyond, making it accessible as in this blog, are a vital part of this exploration for me and I thankyou from the bottom of my Permaculture infused heart, Katy.

  19. I recently attended a series of lectures where one woman stood quietly by the back door. People kept offering her a seat but she declined. It turned out she was doing conscious small movements during the lectures. Another woman in that same series went speed walking around the hallway between lectures. I found instruction for exercises to do in an airplane seat then realized I could do them in any chair. You can find ways to do these things if you are motivated to do so. Try doing some shoulder rolls during a lecture and you might find your seat mates following your lead.

  20. This is something I wonder about way more than I should (see, I could be moving rather than spending my time wondering) I love this post, however what about people with ‘regular’ jobs? Your job is movement so of course you get movement in while you work. You have a far more flexible schedule than most. Most regular jobs don’t have that luxury. What about a standard 9-5 corporate type job? It’s seems like these suggestions would only work on the weekends or evenings

    1. Very true, regarding my more flexible schedule. I just wrote a book on how to get more movement in a traditional 9-5 (called Don’t Just Sit There; it’s out in the Fall). If these suggestions work for you on the evenings or weekends, that’s a great place to start!

  21. Hi Katy!

    I LOVE this suggestion. I was inspired to fold my laundry in a squat. Something I usually dread doing turned into something that made me feel great! I even decided to bring my cutting board outside to tail and cut 4 pounds of gooseberries for a tart!

    Thank you for sparking my creativity on this one!

    Better forever,
    Emily

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