Day 11 – The Simple Exercise Habit

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 What?
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

  1. Add motivation and DO YOUR PLAN
    Here are a few things you can use to add motivation:
  2. 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.
  3. Make a public declaration of your commitment
  4. Get a workout buddy
  5. Hire a trainer or join a class
  6. 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.


7 thoughts on “Day 11 – The Simple Exercise Habit

  1. Ok, here I am in the challenge: catching up from the weekend and all the things you’ve covered are things I definitely have to work on and I appreciate your prompts, but I feel that no sooner do I learn about breathing then we’re on to the next thing and I must move on. These are all good things to ponder but I feel as though I need more time. Maybe it’s me. Thankfully I will be able to go back and go over it again.

    1. It’s true Dusty. We could go very deep into each topic. Instead this challenge is about getting your feet wet in each area and then seeing what sticks. Feel free to skip some days and spend more time on others if it helps you. This can certainly be a choose your own adventure challenge if you’d like.

  2. Catching up – need to do some more thinking about Day 10, but here are thoughts on Day 11. Gotta leave for work so the others days will have to wait, but I’ll get there!

    Last week – before ever reading this post (you know, because it wasn’t posted yet) – I signed up for an adult beginning swim class. It starts Feb 16 and is in the early evening, after work. I like the feeling of being in a pool (who doesn’t like to feel near weightless??) but only know enough to keep myself from drowning in calm waters.

    I also like dancing, but husband doesn’t and, though I’ve thought about checking in to classes that may have another person with no partner, I’m just not comfortable with that right now. I’ve tried Zumba, but it brought out my inner critic when I didn’t get moves right or couldn’t do a particular move. Hm. I wonder if there are dance classes that don’t involve having to have a partner. Then I’m learning and not trying to match the (well-trained) instructor’s movements.

    Doubts or concerns AND stories I tell myself:
    I’m already pretty busy – not sure when I’ll fit it in
    People laughing at or pitying the fatty trying to get healthy

    Stories / why I won’t be successful:
    Tried before and failed – you’re just going to fail – again
    What’s the point? Life sucks.

    What am I afraid will happen if I fail?
    That I’ll prove myself right and be a failure.

    Afraid will happen if I succeed?
    Battles over spending money because I’ll need new clothes?
    That I’ll prove my inner critic wrong and life really doesn’t suck?

    1. Thanks for your very honest comments Elizabeth. I think finding a dance class you like is a great idea. But I’m curious why you let your inner critic get the best of you. We all struggle to learn the moves at first. If you really love dancing why are you letting your inner critic hold you hostage. Also many dance schools have nights where you can go and find partners so going sans husband might not be a problem. Even better find a nice friend who can go with you.

      1. That’s why I think a dance class might be better for me than a Zumba-type class. Perception: a dance class aimed at beginners – I’m a beginner and am surrounded by other beginners, we’re all in the same boat and are there to learn. Zumba-type class – I’m a beginner and am surrounded by a bunch of skinny people who don’t appear to be having any problems with the moves (never mind that they’ve been doing it longer than me). Just thinking that perhaps something that’s specifically a *learning* environment might feel less “hostile” than an exercise class for every body.

        As for why I let my inner critic hold me hostage… that’s a really good question. I refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist. When I don’t do perfectly, I have a tendency to verbally/mentally berate myself. I’m learning to stop that – I’ve actually come a long way with that, but there are still some areas it seems to get the best of me.

      2. Okay. That’s funny. “When I don’t do perfectly…” I had the word “whatever” between brackets and suspect the program thought I was trying to do html code so took it out. Still. I find it amusing that little miss perfectionist has a typo in her comment! 🙂

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