Raise your hand if you know you should get more exercise.
Ok now put it down, because people will think you’re crazy if you’re raising your hand while looking at a computer.
Exercise is hard
If you are like most people, exercise is something you know you should do, but you have a hard time finding the time or motivation to make it happen.
And when you look at exercise marketing it’s no wonder that people feel this way. They show before and after pictures that are unrealistic and that try to convince you to attack your body by blasting your fat or getting ripped. Thanks anyway, but I’m fine without declaring war on my body. And after all is your body really the enemy?
Exercise is more about developing a healthy relationship with the complex network of tissue that helps you serve others, give hugs, and carry around your overworked, stressed-out brain.
A Precious Gift
Exercise for me is about finding a way to enjoy one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received. Think about it, when was the last time someone gave you a gift that they spent 9 months of nausea, aches, and back breaking work to craft?
Now that’s a hell of a gift.
Now that we’ve established that your body is an amazing gift, how should you care for it? I’ve found the key to honoring this gift is to do what you normally do with a nice gift: enjoy it.
It shouldn’t be a source of torture and you also shouldn’t leave it lying around like a ratty old T-shirt you should put it to good use.
So here is my prescription for enjoying the body.
Find something you like doing that requires you use your body.
For me it’s been many things. I’ve ridden bikes, run long distances, wrestled, and boxed. Right now I’m into lifting heavy things. I love the way it feels to lift something that’s 2x or more than my body weight. It makes me feel macho and it makes me smile. It also probably appeals to my vanity as well, but so long as I don’t go overboard that’s not the worst thing in the world.
Right now, think about what that is for you. I’ve had clients who loved riding bikes, running, and even roller skating. Just think about something you like doing. Or if you’re not sure make a list of things you might want to try out.
Create a plan which will challenge you (within reason)
I have read a bunch of books on how to design exercise programs and they all have valid points. But the truth is that these books are great only if you are trying to build the perfect body or be in olympic level athlete.
The reality is the best exercise plan is the one that you do. If you start exercising and enjoy it you can learn more about all that other stuff. For now just keep it simple.
Do your activity 3 or more times a week for at least 30 mins or more.
Try to increase the distance, time, or difficulty by 10% a week.
That’s it. Find the time on your calendar, write out your plan, and make a commitment to do it for a month. That’s it 30 days. You can always re up after a month
- Add motivation and DO YOUR PLAN
Here are a few things you can use to add motivation:
- At the start of each week, take out a sheet of paper, write out what you are going to do and when you are going to do it 3 times.
- Make a public declaration of your commitment
- Get a workout buddy
- Hire a trainer or join a class
- Make a bet that requires you to do something difficult if you miss more than 2 days of your plan
That’s it 3 steps that will help you get more exercise. And I bet you can guess what the challenge is for today:
Challenge #11 Simple Exercise Habit
1. Practice: Choose one activity you like, create a plan, and decide what type of motivation you’d like to use for that plan.
If you already exercise regularly, then answer this question:
Do I enjoy the exercise I do? And if so how can I give myself permission to enjoy it more fully?
2. Reflect: Now that you are looking at your plan reflect on these questions.
What doubts or concerns come up when you look at this plan?
What stories are you telling yourself about exercise and how successful you will or won’t be?
What are you afraid will happen if you fail?
What are you afraid will happen if you succeed?
And if you already do exercise Reflect:
How can I make my exercise practice more mindful and meaningful in my life?
3. Share: Please share in one of the following 3 ways
- Blog – Write a blog about your history with exercise and the challenges you’ve faced. Or write a blog about this planning process and how it felt. Or write a blog about how much you love exercise and why.
- Share – Post with #30dayhappy and/or in our Facebook group what your simple exercise activity is and how often you’re committed to doing it. Or share something about making a commitment to exercise that scares you.
- Comment – Share your thoughts, concerns or doubts about this challenge or anything else at all in the comments below.
Additional Posts On This Subject:
When All You’ve Got is a Shark Everything Looks Like a Seal
What a computer programmer taught me about getting into shape
5 Tips for keeping a mindful fitness journal.