This morning while sipping my coffee and mapping out my week, I couldn’t help but think about you as I was planning time for exercise.
Because I know it’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it may seem nearly impossible to add any movement into your busy week.
Or maybe you’ve decided you don’t have what it takes to commit to a plan, or that it’s not worth trying.
Friend, if you feel this, you are in the right place.
It has taken me years to re-vamp my relationship with movement into something that isn’t an absolute drag. I want to save you some time by sharing my 6 Top Secrets for Creating and Committing to an Exercise Ritual that don't make you want to press SNOOZE or continue laying on the couch for hours.
1. Get Pumped by Your Past
Think back to a time when you’ve succeeded and accomplished something.
Action: Journal - What was it in YOU that made it a success? Was it your adaptability? Was it your capacity to create a plan? Was it surrounding yourself with other committed, high-energy people? Was it meditating on positive mantras? This is a secret ingredient for you to use in your recipe for success; one that has proven to support you before and will do so again.
2. Re-define Exercise
Our culture has accepted and normalized a narrow definition of exercise. The “no pain, no gain,” or “I just need to burn this many calories or keep my heart rate up for this long and then I’ll be done,” mentalities are mostly unhelpful in getting our butts out of bed at 5am, mid-February, when our New Years resolutions are a vague memory, and when we have a full day ahead of us.
Action: Reflect on your old definition of exercise. Is it constrictive, stress-producing, or simply unrealistic right now? You have permission to create your own definition of exercise. One that feels exciting, do-able, and enough for YOU.
3. Make a Commitment by Aligning It to a Core Value
Simply put: these bodies we live in are made to move. But for whatever reason, our body doesn’t yell at us to exercise the same way it does when we’re hungry or tired. It does communicate with us in other ways, however. Perhaps our mental health suffers, we start to experience back pain, poor quality sleep, or have decreased sex drive (yes, exercise impacts ALL of these!). But what will it take to make a long-term commitment to your body’s needs?
Action: Consider your top personal values. If one is family, think about how important it is for you to take care of yourself so that you can be your best self for them. Or how by taking care of YOUR body, you’re setting an example for your family members to honor theirs as well.
4. Make Movement a Non-Negotiable
Take account of your daily habits. Wake up, have coffee, brush teeth etc. How did these become habit? It’s likely because you chose (either consciously or unconsciously) to make them part of your day. CHOICE is the greatest freedom we have, and yet we rarely make conscious choices about how we want to spend our time. At work, we can’t take a single trip to the break room without hearing someone talk about how they “don’t have enough time for xyz.” But somehow, they found 3 hours of time last night to binge on Netflix. Or 30 minutes to wait in line at Starbucks. This is an example of unconscious choice.
Action: Take an honest look at your daily habits, write down where you are spending your time, and consciously choose how you want to spend your time in a way that serves you and those around you. Look for opportunities to add movement to your schedule. Whether it be walking the dog an extra 15 minutes, always taking the stairs, turning the screens off after 30 minutes and playing with your kids, or going to a Zumba class. Whatever your choice of movement is, make it as non-negotiable as brushing your teeth.
5. Be Flexible
One of the major killers of commitment to a movement ritual is unexpected change in life. Since the only guarantee in life is change, we need to be able to flex and see new opportunities for movement within the ebbs and flows of life.
It’s important to be easy on yourself when life changes or gets tough. This means your usual movement may shift to something different. You may decide that taking walks with your significant other is more therapeutic than doing the elliptical. And that is ok. The key is to not ditch your body during these times. Remember, you can’t get too far without a body. Treat it with care, especially when life changes.
6. Journal How You Feel
Somewhere along the way, I learned that there are only 2 reasons to exercise - to maintain/lose weight or prevent heart disease. This set me up for failure every time because the return on investment was not motivating enough for me.
One of my biggest breakthroughs and #1 motivator to get up and move is to think about how I want to feel. Exercise brings this sense of confidence, vitality, and happiness almost instantly. I found that when I exercised in the morning, stressful situations rolled off my back easier that day. I felt more assured and connected to my body throughout the day.
If you’ve grown up hearing the same messages I did, consider journaling how you feel after you exercise. How do you feel about yourself the rest of the day? And next time the alarm goes off and you don’t feel like getting up, or after a long day, remind yourself of how movement makes you feel. And how your feelings impact those around you.
You can SO do this.