Frigid winter evening workout one way to burn calories
By Paula O’Kray
Been enjoying the weather lately? Me neither. It makes life difficult. It’s harder to get up in the morning, harder to get dressed and harder to get to work. It takes a while to get all those layers on. You have to remember to go out a bit early to warm up the car.
It’s harder to move with the layers on. And then it takes a while to get them all off. And every time you go anywhere that involves the outside, you have to complete the entire routine, whether you like it or not.
Monday night I took the dog for a walk and was surprised at the pain the wind created hitting my face and eyes, the only part of my body that was exposed to the elements. It still amazes me how little air movement it takes to make the cold completely unbearable. I quickly rerouted our path to keep us out of a headwind and kept the walk short.
Still, once we got back, my dog wanted to stay outside, so I put her on the tie-out. That silly thingstayed out there for two full hours, sleeping peacefully on the doormat outside my front door. I checked on her often, but she was pretty happy, since when she isn’t, she’ll let you know in a hurry.
Our Tuesday night walk was quite a different matter. Out of curiosity I decided to time the preparation, just for fun. Before beginning, I glanced at the clock – 7:10 p.m. I opened my sock drawer and pulled on some nice thick knee socks while my dog watched in anticipation in the doorway. Then I pulled on a pair of long underwear, and some fleece pants over that.
Since the pant legs tend to ride up as I get the final layer on, I take string and tie them close around my ankles. Yes, high fashion goes out the window at this time of year. Whatever works, call it functional fashion.
I pulled on a turtleneck over the T-shirt I had on, and put a thick wool sweater over that. I was careful to alternate the layers to keep the warmth in. Long underwear, then T-shirt. Fleece pants, then turtleneck. The colors, completely uncoordinated.
This is a little tough on me. As an artist, colors are important, and I have a need for them to work together in almost every aspect of my life. But this night, that was all out the window. I just wanted to be warm.
I checked my look in the mirror and kiddingly said to myself, “Es muy sexy, no?” in a French accent, although I actually looked fairly Russian with my neck gaiter up on my head like a hat. I know that probably doesn’t make any sense, but it amused me and made me laugh. The under layer done, I headed downstairs to finish the outer layer, the dog eagerly at my heels.
I pulled on a pair of ski pants I bought a few years back, an excellent investment. I don’t downhill ski, but they’re windproof, and I thought they would be great on our evening winter walks, and I was right. They have an inner liner for inside the boot and the outer pant leg goes over the boot. They have a very high waist to keep out the wind, and suspenders to complete the ensemble.
I slipped into them, hoisting them as I went, pausing for a slight cramp and waiting for it to pass. It gets harder to bend everything as the layers get thicker, but I have a few tricks. I got all the other layers tucked in nicely and pulled the suspenders into place.
While I could still bend a bit, I pulled on my Sorels for their maiden voyage this winter. They’re a bit harder to walk in, but the cold made them necessary. I wrestled them on, tied them up, and nestled them between the layers of my ski pants.
I pulled on a thick wool headband that covered my forehead and ears, and fleece cap over that. Making sure the neck gaiter and fleece cap met where my eyes were, I then folded them back a bit so I could see as I finished dressing. A fleece scarf went over the neck gaiter for extra protection from the wind and also to prevent any gaps from being exposed beneath the gaiter as I moved my head around.
Finally I pulled on my down winter coat and zipped it up, making sure everything else was in place. The finished outfit looked a bit extreme, so I snapped a few funny pictures and sent them to a friend. I laughed when I realized I resembled a Tusken Raider from the planet Tatooine, the warrior race that lived on the dunes, referred to as the Sand People in the Star Wars movies. Too bad I don’t have a bantha to ride around on.
A few years ago I read a book about Libby Riddles – a Madison, Wis., native who was the first lady to win the Iditarod. I actually had the opportunity to meet her and have her autograph my book, which was exciting. In the book, she wrote about the type of clothing she wore for the trip, clothing made without seams to keep the harsh arctic wind out. It seemed like something I could use on this evenings’ walk.
I do know a bit about the benefits of layering, as I spent many school nights as a kid at the ice rink at Bukolt Park. We spent a lot of time out on the ice, playing all sorts of games, crawling around, over and through the huge snow banks and trying crazy skate moves, not to mention the inevitable and occasional snowball fight.
You had to dress in layers if you wanted to enjoy all the fun, and especially if you didn’t want the snow down your back, so I layered well and tightly. And having had a big mouth as a kid, I got used to having my face washed in the snow fairly regularly. Didn’t help though, still have it.
Finally ready to go, I clipped the leash on my pup and checked the clock. 7:25 p.m. It took 15 minutes for the prep, not bad. The walk went well, the layers did their job, and even though I wore gloves beneath my mittens, my fingers still needed occasional warm-ups in my pocket. My gaiter/cap combination worked like a clam shell, and with a bend of the neck I could easily shut out the occasional below-zero gust of air and then open it again so I could see where we were going.
The dog who typically dawdles seemed to be walking very briskly though, and making much fewer stops on the route. She got her business done though, and as we headed back, I noticed her start to pick up one of her rear paws, so we made a beeline for home. I had kept the loop pretty small, so it didn’t take long to get back.
I put her in the house to warm up while I took the garbage and recyclables to the street, but when I got back in the house, she asked to go out again. I let her out in the back yard to do a little exploring while I de-layered and wrestled my boots off, and she was at the door within minutes. I guess sitting on a dry warm porch on a mat by the door is quite different than a windy backyard full of snow when your paws are cold. She came inside, I gave her a pat and her favorite treat, and afterwards she climbed up on her favorite couch for a snooze, which is where she is as I write.
I don’t know how she can be so tired, when I was the one who had the workout of getting dressed! Stay warm this week, friends.