Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
You’d think after 1,500 days of going outside every single day for at least 20 minutes, no matter what terrible or great weather is waiting for me, that I’d be a pro. You’d think that I would never be so settled in what I was doing that it was actually HARD for me to do something outside. You’d think that it would be second nature to try new things, or that 1,500 days would mean that it was easy.
But that’s not how humans work, guys. We develop patterns, and yes, keeping those is easy. But when the pattern is disrupted we slide right back into this feeling that something is forced or difficult to remember.
Disruptions can look like anything, really, when it comes to habits. Take my pull up habit, for example. I’ve got one of those home gym pull up bars hanging on a door frame in my home office. I happen to have a small bathroom off my office, and that’s the door this is on. Last year after my hip surgery I created a habit for myself of doing a few pull ups after every bathroom visit during work day. If I walked in that bathroom I required myself to do pull ups before leaving it. That started with just one. Then one got easier, so I did two. I did this for weeks until I hit five in a row. And then one week I decided to give myself a week break and come back to it.
Except I didn’t come back to it. And now I am having trouble getting myself started again. I decided I’d restart, but then I forgot and one day realized that despite planning to make this a habit, I hadn’t done a pull up in days. And I drink a lot of water, guys, it’s not like I hadn’t been in there.
Outside is like that, too. Disrupt the habit, it’s hard to get going again. Add a different factor to the habit — same problem.
For me, accountability really helps. A few weeks ago I told you I planned to do the 52hike challenge this year – one hike a week. For me that means purposefully adding a short walk or hike in nature as my outdoor time. And this was the second week in a row that I almost totally forgot to do it. If it wasn’t for me telling you I was doing it, I wouldn’t have made it happen. Or I would’ve said “well, we walked over a mile in the woods, that’s what we’ll call our hike for this week.”
But that’s not what I want to do with this. I want to have the mental presence to say “this is our hike.” I want to think through where we’re going and what we’ll do there.
Yes, going outside daily comes naturally now. But, like we’ve talked about before, going outside with intentionality continues to be a challenge.
The last few weeks our hike has been along the river on our way home from our somewhat weekly attendance at our church. I say somewhat weekly because if I’m being honest, we sometimes choose to do something else like spend time outside or go on an adventure, especially in the summer. On the way home we drive over the Matanuska River, which has its headwaters near the Matanuska Glacier and then quickly turns into a fast moving glacial river thanks to the Matanuska Glacier’s runoff. It runs along the Glenn Highway down to where we live. The Borough, our version of a county, recently constructed a new trail alongside it, and you can walk down along the river in the opposite direction as well. The leaves are beautiful here right now, so last week we stopped and did a short hike along that trail, and this week we stopped and went the other way along the river.
It was a nice outside break in a day otherwise packed with various chores and tasks to help us get ready for another busy week of work, school, and other obligations.
And by making the effort and taking that step, I made it easier for me to remember to do so next time.
If you need some of that accountability to get you going outside, that’s one of the things we’re here for at Humans Outside. We do this by sharing our time with each other and interacting on Facebook and Instagram. If you tag me on Instagram I will absolutely respond to you. Even better, join me in using #humansoutside365 so others can follow your outside time, too. I share my outside time that way every single day for more than 1,500 days in a row. And I can’t wait to see yours, too.
And until next time, we’ll see you out there.