For those of us who don’t live where there are mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures, it can be tough to stick to fitness-related New Year’s resolutions during the grueling winter months — especially times like now, when snow and ice has pelted the East Coast, and all the nearby hiking trails are mud-covered.
Sure, there are gyms and maybe even fitness equipment at home, and exercise DVDs. But after too many nights of walking on the treadmill, I start to crave scenery other than our cluttered basement. I need to get out of the house. My solution: the mall.
I see other mall walkers there, and I instantly recognize them as members of my tribe. We wear running shoes and we walk several laps. Some of us are wearing headphones. Starting out, none of us are carrying shopping bags. The peril: sometimes, by the end of my allotted mall-lap-walking time, I am carrying shopping bags.
The problem with walking past all those artfully designed storefront displays – or even just seeing the name of a store that might contain an item I’ve been needing or wanting – is that it’s very easy for me to get off my exercise course and spend money. My focus shifts … from boosting my fitness routine to weaving and dodging to avoid tempting purchases. It becomes a financial obstacle course.
Ideas begin to bounce: “Well, we’re all out of cereal, so I’ll stop in at Target. Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to buy another lamp to brighten up our gloomy living room. Maybe I’ll buy that, too. And ooh, what a cute skirt!” What begins as an exercise alternative morphs into combining errands with exercise and finally devolves into buying things I don’t really need.
Some tips I’ve learned to cut down on my spontaneous spending:
Travel light. If I’ve come to the mall to walk, I can leave my money at home. All I really need to take is my car keys and identification.
Walk first; shop later. Save making purchases until after I’ve completed my hour-long mall walk. By then I might be too tired to loop back around to a particular tempting store, or I might have talked myself out of something frivolous.
Mix it up and tough it out. In the grisly winter months, I can combine mall walking with some time on the treadmill, or even a brief jaunt out on the trail in a good pair of snow boots.
How do you keep “mall walking” from turning into a shopping spree?