I am one of those people who need to exercise. If I don’t workout regularly, I feel sluggish in every way: physically, mentally and emotionally.
Listening to Shawn Anchor (happiness researcher, author and speaker), I realized a great truth in something he said: Exercise is important, because it provides proof for ourselves that working hard will give us results.
“15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day. It’s the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant for the first six months, but with a 30 percent lower relapse rate over the next two years.” (Washington Post)
15 minutes! Just 15. You can do this! Make a plan. Anything cardiovascular: a jog, jumping rope or trampoline, bicycling, rollerskating (my favorite)…get out there and get moving!
I’ve noticed that I have been using guilt to motivate myself to exercise. It didn’t dawn on me until recently that this could be different.
The moment I wake up, I feel a bit of dread and (sub-consciously) give myself permission to feel good only AFTER I work out. But can I train myself to look forward to working out?
When I spoke about this to friends and family, most responded with, “Of course, that’s the only way it canbe when it comes to doing tasks what we don’t enjoy!” However, I suspect it’s not the only way…
Changing my motivation to a more positive approach would also help me with willpower in general. If I positively anticipate training, then I utilize no willpower, which is a limited source. I can then apply willpower to that piece of cake in front of me.
I was preparing to do a backbend with pushups (yes, it’s just as fun as it sounds!) when I was filled with dread and doubt. But Jillian said, “One, two, three!” and I started bending my arms slowly, until my head touched the ground and then I straightened my arms. I did 15 of those. It was grueling. I hated it. I’m glad it’s over.
There’s something about counting…counting down or counting up, it doesn’t matter. Notice when parents tell their kids to do something and they start counting: “ONE…TWO…!” The kids hup to it before “THREE!” Why? They just know they better get going. It’s a weird motivator.
I love this Ted Talk from Mel Robbins. She says the key to success in anything is to know one thing:”You’re never going to feel like it.” You’re never going to feel excited to do those backbend pushups, you’re not going to feel like jumping out of bed to get to work first (well, probably not…) and you’re not going to feel like eating salad instead of cheesecake.
But in those areas of your life that are working, you are doing the things you don’t necessarily feel like doing. You’re exercising self-discipline. Robbins’ “Five Second Rule” is to take action no longer than five seconds from the moment you have the thought, I should…
I should get out of bed now…
I should go for a run…
I should send that email asking for a favor…
I should clean the fridge…
I should go to bed now…
Try it. The rule is, you have five seconds from the time you have the thought. Or make your own countdown!
I have been doing Jillian Michael’s workouts for the past seven years or so.
A friend of mine introduced me to her DVDs and I’ve been hooked ever since. At 48, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in and it just takes 30 minutes a day. (Do I sound like an infomercial or what?)
In my youth, I exercised to look good. Now, I workout to be strong.
When I feel strong physically, I am stronger mentally and spiritually.
I take care of my health for my loved ones, too. I want to be active for as long as possible and I want to model good living. Yesterday, my 15 year old daughter said, “Mom, when I’m your age, I hope I look like you.”
a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.
I roll out of bed after two days of rest from exercising. I do not want to work out today! Paradoxically, after such a long respite, I feel more tired than usual. But I don my clothes and shoes and start the physical self-flagellation exertion.
Curiously, I feel so much better afterwards. I actually have moreenergy after expending it: the fridge gets cleaned out, I chirpily run errands with the family and I feel like I can handle anything.
Not everyone feels this way, I know. But if you’re in a slump, give it a try. I’m recommending a challenging workout, not just a walk around the block. See if it works. (It’s better than over-caffeination, eating sugar or complaining!)
When I was in my early twenties, I lived in San Francisco and wanted to be a writer. To be a good writer, you have to read a lot. I was forever changed when I read Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind. In it is a passage about feeling “wild” while you sit calmly, writing. I completely identified with this! I made up my mind to have a Wild Mind from then on.
Being “wild” mentally naturally helps my writing and my creativity. However, I noticed that when I feel sluggish physically, I am pretty dull inside, too. So I force myself to exercise. Believe me, I am never excited about lacing up the work out shoes. But I make it a habit. I get my shoes on, turn Jillian on (the DVD, not her…) and I go to town. It’s hard. I sweat. I look forward to it ending. But I do it. And when I’m done, I feel SO GOOD (not just because it’s over). The endorphins kick in and I feel more energized and positive. I am on top of the world!
On some Sundays, I like to go roller skating. I’m almost as fast as Apolo Ohno. This gives me a great high, too. I feel fierce.
What makes you feel ferocious? What can you do to make it a habit?
When I use the “chuck it” with my dog, Opal, she runs as fast as lightning. I’ll throw the tennis ball 6 or 7 times and when we’re done, Opal is exhausted and happy. And then she’s mellow for the rest of the day. She is kinder with other dogs and she’s a delight to be around.
When I skip my own workout, I feel sluggish. I don’t have as much energy. When I force myself to work out – despite fatigue – I feel energized and I’m ready to take on my work.
Sometimes, the “magic pill” is just hard work.
What is it for you? Meditation? Yoga? Weight lifting? Set yourself up for success and do it, even if you don’t feel like it.