Three steps, lean over, shovel, three steps, dump.
Over and over and over again.
When you analyze it, shoveling snow is like a lot of other mundane jobs — it’s all about moving stuff.
But for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved shoveling snow. Probably more so now, because I work at a desk a lot.
In my case, I shoveled out the berm left behind by the plow driver. Even though we have a snowblower, we always shovel out the berm. The berm is usually full of chunks of ice that can break our antiquated snow blower.
It feels invigorating, being out in the cold air, working up a sweat. You can track your progress. We have a circular driveway, so my husband worked on one end, while I worked on the other.
I have a particular method. I like to clear a pathway around the area, creating a square in the middle. Then I chip away at each side of the square until there’s only a small one foot by one foot column left. With the snow being two feet deep, I also have to work from the top down, scooping the snow in layers.
One layer off the top, then another layer in the middle, then the bottom. Last year, I bought an ergonomic snow shovel — that has the s-surved handle rather than the straight handle. It makes all the difference in the world for my lower back.
Even though the total area of snow I’m shoveling is about 15 feet by 15 feet, it takes me awhile. I alternate first using the left arm and shoulder to throw snow, then the right. It’s easier on the right, because I’m right-handed, but I don’t want to wear out my shoulder. Slowly I make progress through the pile of snow, and my square is shrinking.
Another particular benefit of snow shoveling is it takes care of lifting weights and exercising. As I hurl the snow, I feel my core engaged. My shoulders, biceps and forearms start to burn. Even my legs feel it as I try to engage in proper lifting by bending the knees to scoop.
One winter I worked in Lake Tahoe for a ski resort. We were a small crew of people that took care of everything at our little lodge that we ran the cross-country ski touring center. Every time it snowed, we had to do a LOT of shoveling. We had two outdoor bathrooms (outhouses) that had to be shoveled out. The walkway and deck that circled the lodge also had to be shoveled. Propane tanks had to be unearthed well as two warming huts out on the trail system.
That February, it felt like it snowed two feet or more every other day. For weeks, I shoveled every day, both at work and at home. The banks of snow got so high, I could no longer hoist the snow above my head to dump it. At home, I had to resort to walking each shovelful of snow across the street to dump it, as that was the only place that wasn’t above my head.
The bonus? I was completely ripped — I’m talking sculpted arms, burly shoulders and six-pack abs. Yet I never went to a gym the entire winter.
Want to stay fit this winter? Leave your snow blower in the garage and shovel out your driveway. I promise you’ll have the bikini body you always wanted by summer.