On the top of pretty much every one of my clients. “I SHOULD Be. But, I’m Not” lists? Exercise.
We know the benefits of exercise. So, why do we still have such a hard time doing it?
We don’t have enough time.
Working out feels like a luxury we don’t have time to indulge.
Or, an obligation that gets squeezed out by more pressing matters.
Here’s the deal.
Moving your body isn’t just an abstract recommendation from the American Heart Association.
It’s one of the most vital ways you can be alive.
I’m not talking about the “avoid disease and diabetes” kind of alive.
I’m talking about the fully awake and aware, energized, glad to be here on this earth in this one life we have to live, kind of alive.
If your history of working out involved beating up your body in pursuit of an externally driven “this is how I”m supposed to look” kind of way, you may associate exercise with punishment, discomfort (or pain), force, and dogged discipline.
Gee, wonder why you’re not hopping on the train to get yourself more of that?
Your body is deep.
It needs a better reason to exercise than just getting to a certain pant size.
A number of years ago, I realized my body didn’t want to ignored and sedentary. It also didn’t want to be ignored and beat up in knee-mutilating workouts.
It wanted to be in communication— in relationship with me.
Our bodies are actually great messengers if we bother to pay attention.
Muscles tight and tense? Chances are you believe you’re under threat–falling prey to old stories that convince you you’re lacking something (even though you have everything we need in this moment).
Our bodies tell us when we need food.
We are just programmed to avoid those messages and get on with the business of chasing our monkey minds around in pursuit of more, better, faster.
How do you start becoming allies with your body again?
First, you ask it how it wants to move.
Sounds wacky, I know.
Trust me, it will let you know, if you just check in.
Your panicky, unreliably flighty, and frightened mind is saying, “nothing less than 2 hours of aerobics or a 10 minute mile will do!!”
Because, the last time you were “really” in shape, Jane Fonda was Queen. Or, you were trying get the presidential fitness patch in P.E. These days, your body may actually let you know it’s more interested in daily walks, stretching, or Tai Chi.Or, that it wants to hike, roller skate, play a game of pick-up basketball, or dance with wild abandon.
Here’s how to move your body without feeling like you’re squeezing out other valuable commodities (like sleep, pleasure, and work).
- Put your exercise time and specifically what you plan to do on your calendar every day. Anyone who’s read my book knows I love a good (short) To Do list. But, if you put your workout on our calendar studies show (and my experience proves) you’re more likely to get it done.
- Buddy up. Humans are sophisticated pack animals. We love to be in tribes—in community. Find a friend and commit to doing something physical together (Not that. Unless you want to. None of my beeswax). Take a bike ride together. Do a strength circuit at the park (there are apps for that).
- Get a trainer. I know. Easy for me to spend your money that way. A good trainer can give you in 1 workout what you might do in 2 or 3 sessions on your own. It’s a great investment. Having the appointment with a trainer you like makes it much more likely you’ll stick to a regular workout.
- Habit. If you commit to regular exercise (even just 15 minutes, 4 days a week) for a few weeks, you will be shocked at our much easier it is to keep doing it. Our brains love habits (takes so much less mental energy).
Some of my favorite exercise hacks:
- 7 minute workout apps. There are TONS of them. Some are free, some cost $3 or less. These are a set of exercises, done in 30 second intervals, designed to get your muscles firing and your heart pumping. I do a set most mornings before I sit at my desk and in the mid-afternoon to keep the blood flowing.
- Club B. My friend Kim is amazing dancer. Going to her classes awakened my inner diva. She’s now created online dance club. For a low monthly fee, you can rock out to her great choreography with wild abandon in your underwear. It’s a great workout. But, you don’t even realize you’re exercising. I fire up my iPad and dance (via video) with Kim several mornings a week.
- Steps. Look for ways to integrate more movement into what you’re already doing. Park as far away as you can at work or the store. Take the stairs. Make 3 trips up and down the to the basement instead of carrying whatever you’re fetching in one trip. Stretch, do some planks or crunches while you watch TV.
Notice I haven’t once mentioned weight loss.
Because it’s time to stop making exercise something you do when you’re “on the wagon” and losing weight.
It’s time to make it a part of your life.Often, losing weight or dropping a clothing size is a byproduct of regular exercise. But, if you make it the only motivating factor for working out, you’re likely to get discouraged on be on a roller coaster that will circle your right back around to the pattern of January-February fitness and March-December sedentary every year.
You and your body deserve better.
You got this.