All Exercise Is Meaningless

Cat + Weights

“C’est La Vie”
Photo by kcxd

Every bit of exercise you do is meaningless.

Don’t Just ‘DO IT’
For years, I did things without knowing why. I may have had reasons, but they were hidden from me. Living at a Zen monastery changed that.

Before every activity at the monastery we said a dedication. We’d recite a chant and then dedicate the merit to someone or something.

After a while, I stopped thinking about why we did it.

When I left the monastery, I noticed that many activities lacked weight. This was especially true for exercise. I wanted my efforts to be more than just an ego game.

Check, ‘Me’ Out
Fitness can become all about me, me, me. I want to have a six-pack so girls will look at me. I want to ride faster than everyone else, so I feel like a king.

This focus on the self makes parts the fitness industry hollow, shallow, and inauthentic.

I wanted it to be different. That’s when I remembered the dedications at Great Vow. So, I wrote a dedication for exercise.

All of a sudden, my exercise became an act of service.

I was exercising:

  • To have more strength to help others.
  • To help clarify my mind.
  • To live longer and serve more.
  • To support my family and friends.

This simple dedication changed the meaning behind my workouts. Best of all it can do the same for you.

A 4 step guide to writing a dedication for any purpose.

1. Write down a truth: What is it that you need to remember? Something you know is true in your heart, but often forget.

Some examples are:  Anything is possible, Exercise isn’t selfish, I may not do it today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it someday.

2. Write down an intention: An intention is similar to, but not the same as a goal. It has more to do with internal energy rather than external measurement. It’s something only you can judge.

Some Examples are: I will feel more confident, I will move with more ease, I will change my life.

3. Write down who or what it’s for:We never exist in complete independence. If our course is only devoted to ourselves, the pursuit becomes hollow. When we dedicate our effort to others, it becomes much more.

Choose someone or something to dedicate your effort to. It could be an individual, group, or energy.

Some examples are: I run for my children, I’ll keep going for anyone who’s tried to lose weight and failed, I’ll keep trying in gratitude for the gift of life.

4. Write down what you want to embody:It’s not just about what we do. It’s about how we do it. How we do something is what makes it transformational.

Some examples are: I will embody the persistence of a mighty river, I will embody the strength of Martin Luther King, I will embody the energy of compassion.

Now that you have, your four sentences play around with them. Try putting them in a different order or change the wording.

A client of mine discarded sentences 2-3 and uses her first sentence alone. Do whatever it takes to make it your own.

Finish Line

photo by Candice Villarrea

Keep on Keeping On
All exercise is meaningless, until we realize it’s meaning.

Moreover, seeing our motivation can be very powerful. This process helps find what drives you. Most of all, coming back to your dedication will keep you going when the path gets steep.

I’d love to read your dedications. If you want to share it, please post it below.

Here is the dedication I often use:
My body is subject to old age sickness and death. Nothing I do can change this. I put forth this effort that I may be able to approach everyday with more courage, wisdom, and compassion. I dedicate the merit of this effort to the liberation of all living beings. May my every step embody the path of liberation.


What Is Mindfulness? – Start with Appreciation

Just A Pat On The Back
Growing up I was always told I had potential. A nice thing to say, right? But I hated it.
How did they know I would be successful? They saw potential so they affirmed. But I wanted something deeper than affirmation.
Just The Truth
I wanted truth, dirty, grimy, painful, sexy, truth.
It took me a long time to find a small piece of it. When I did I realized something. Appreciation, not affirmation is the key to happiness.
Saying “You have potential” isn’t that great. It’s like you’re saying, “Someday you’ll be something, (but not today). Kids get this a lot.
Adults say “You’ll be great when you grow up.”  But kids are already great. Some adults just don’t realize it.
Adults also don’t realize how great they are.
Just Learn To Appreciate
As adults we often deny who we really are. Instead we envision some fantastic future version of ourselves.
Appreciation shows us who we are now. Appreciation extends the value of the present into the future.
Just Be Who You Are
The world tells us to look at who we could be.  But this doesn’t work if we don’t appreciate who we are now.
There is no one who reads this blog who isn’t amazing. 
If you each told your story, I have no doubt I’d be amazed. There would be feats of sacrifice, powerful coming of age events, and tales of obstacles vanquished.
Just Be Great
I was a talented kid and I still am talented.  But it doesn’t mean anything unless I can appreciate it.
We have to appreciate and accept:
  • That this flawed person is a miracle,
  • That our friends and family are a blessing,
  • That every breath is a gift,
  • And that there is still work to be done.
  • This simple appreciation will guide us through the darkest times.
Just Here
No matter where you are on your journey to lose weight, build strength or be more mindful, start here. Appreciate where you are right now, because this is where it all begins.
Speak Up
What’s one thing you did well today?
Comment below and share it with us.
  • Keep a journal
  • Once a day write down one thing you are grateful for.
  • And one thing you did well today.
  • Be careful not to make this appreciation of virtue a back handed compliment.
  • For example” I didn’t screw up my paperwork I usually do”.
  • Instead you could reframe it like this, “I was proficient in doing my paperwork today.”
  • See the difference?
  • Once you’ve gotten these two items written down, take just a couple moments and appreciate your deep personal value.
  • How lucky we have something to be grateful for?
  • How wonderful we can appreciate ourselves today?


A Big Turn Off

This will be a short blog.
Turn off this computer and go do something real with someone you care about. Take a walk, sing a song, or make a meal, no matter what this time of the year can help us remember that the best things in the world are analog. 
Happy Holidays!


Why didn’t I exercise over Thanksgiving?

The holidays break up our routines and tug at our heartstrings. They have bring up old memories as well as old insecurities. For many people this season is a season of pitfalls and minefields for health vows. Here are 4 tips on how to navigate the holidays and maintain mindfulness around living a balanced and healthy life.
1. Cook more veggies: For thanksgiving many people have a CARB FEST. The problem with this is that carbs have tons of excess calories and they tend to make us sleepy and lethargic. You know all the stuff about tryptophan in the turkey? Bogus. They have done studies and the reason you get so sleepy is the massive intake of carbs. Instead try cooking more veggies. This year I sautéed kale with golden raisins and my uncle grilled fresh asparagus. Half of my thanksgiving plate was veggies and I didn’t have to take a nap after dinner. If you are going over to someone’s house, offer to bring some veggies along — you will likely be one of the few people touting leafy greens.
2. Make plans to exercise: If you can exercise with your family, great. If not, include your exercise in your plans with your family. Family stuff has a way of expanding to take up the time you have, so set clear intentions and tell your family what those plans are. You are more likely to follow through.
3. Don’t drink too much: I made this mistake. My family is not a big drinking family, but when everyone else is having a beer, it’s easy to go along. I rarely drink, but when I was home I had a cocktail almost every night. Because of this I tended to wake up later and a bit groggier.   You can be festive without imbibing and you are much more likely to wake up early and go for a run. It’s OK to have a drink or two, but an every other day rule might be the best policy.
4. Get enough sleep: I know you want to see your friends, and your extended family probably wakes up earlier than you normally do. Going to bed early every other night will ensure that you get to stay up and enjoy that late night discussion of metaphysics with your cousin, or hear things you never knew about your uncle. It will also make sure you get enough sleep and thus have enough energy to exercise.
Take some time this week and create a plan for how you are going to get through the holidays mindfully. Don’t forget to give yourself more slack than normal. The goal is to maintain awareness more than any strict rules that will be hard to stick to.  If nothing else remember this one simple rule: the holidays only last 1-2 months, just make it through ‘til January 2nd and then commit to starting back into your old routine.