Exercise: A Necessary Evil or A Divine Experience?

By purehealthandhappiness@gmail.com

If you’re like me, you may have days when exercise isn’t a priority. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well, you have a headache, the washing machine overflowed, the car battery died, you have a sick kid, or the ceiling fell in and you have to clean it up (yep, that one’s happened twice in my life) . . . I think you get where I am coming from. You had every intention of going on your walk; then, life happened and the thing you were looking forward to takes a back seat. So, how do you move it back to the top of your priority list? The truth is . . . how you deal with this situation is how you will deal with other things in your life. So, let’s get it figured out! 

Where rubber meets the road or, in my case, the track

Earlier this year, I would have gladly accepted any excuse to not go on my daily 3–5-mile walk. In fact, I can honestly say that exercise and I essentially parted ways a few years ago when we stopped hiking and backpacking. I lost my passion for it because I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to think about exercising; I want to be having a positive experience while I’m doing it. So, if you’re having a problem processing how you’re feeling about exercise, just know that you’re not alone! I fully understand the gravity of this situation because this is what I have dealt with for a while now.

Here’s my best advice to follow whenever possible . . . DO IT ANYWAY! Maybe your walk isn’t as fast paced or as long of a duration. Perhaps you have to do laps around your house or through the neighborhood. You possibly lie down on the floor next to your sick child’s bed and do push-ups, sit ups, and leg lifts. Just make sure you do some form of exercise when life gets in the way – – even if you split it up into more than one segment that day.

Why is this important? 

One day off won’t hurt, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that it won’t hurt to take a day off, but it makes it easier to turn that break into two or three days. Not only that but you’ve compromised with yourself (and not in a beneficial way). Subconsciously, will that lead to not trusting yourself when you make yourself future promises? It could. Our minds can be complicated and tricky. The benefits of following through will far outweigh justifying the excuse that is going through your mind.

Here’s what I do to get through and still meet my goals:

  1. Set realistic expectations. I don’t set myself up for failure by declaring I’m going to work out at 5AM because it’s the best use of scheduling my day. Deep down, I know that if I did work out at 5AM I would feel amazing and accomplished, but I’m not there yet. So, I work out in the morning before I start my business work for the day.
  2. Be flexible. If it’s pouring outside and walking in the rain isn’t an acceptable idea, I will have alternative things to do (like yoga, the elliptical, or an online class), but I’m still spending the same amount of time exercising as if I went for my walk.
  3. Be inventive. Change up the routine if you find yourself getting bored with what you have been doing. Don’t use it as an excuse to not work out; instead, change what you’re doing.
  4. Keep your goal in mind. My goal is to be active each day. I define what that means to me and make it achievable. Instead of setting the goal of, “I’m going to work out every day for a month by walking X number of miles,” I say I’m going to be active every day for a certain period of time, and I see how many miles I accumulate. In fact, I make a game out of it! Why? My brain is programmed to have fun while working out!
  5. Make exercise enjoyable. One attempt to get back into the habit of exercising involved making myself fall in love with my experience. This worked very well until I moved, and COVID-19 hit. I found a workout facility that I felt comfortable and safe in (no judging). They had amazing hot water massage beds that I could lay on to relax my muscles. Later, I invited a friend along with me to go to work outs, so it also became a social time. When I started out, I would lay down and get a 10-minute massage, then I would go through the machines, trying a new one each week. Then, I would hit the massage bed before heading out and getting coffee. I turned the experience into something I really liked until I got into the habit of using the facility and working out. Eventually, the sequence changed, and it became a better and more fulfilling workout. I literally bribed myself and had both a good work out and a lot of fun at the same time!

Bottom line

Recently, I found myself on a good four-day streak before getting sidetracked from my daily exercise routine. I was feeling incredible! My muscles and joints didn’t hurt as much because I was getting great blood circulation. My self-confidence was soaring because I was pushing myself in an area that I’ve never been exceptionally strong in, and overall, I was really enjoying being outside! So, what changed? 

This time I’m exercising for me (not because I have to do it for my health, stress reduction, or to lose weight)! It is profoundly different because I’ve tied exercise into the true and authentic life I’m living. I’ve developed a passion for an amazing new project that I feel will really benefit people. Part of that plan is leading others to live their best life possible. This vision is literally pulling me along. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about being me (including who I am in the moment with all of my strengths and weaknesses)! 

So, have some compassion with yourself and change the way you view exercise. Take it from me, I don’t want to work out when it’s going to be uncomfortable and hard. Instead, make it a fun part of your daily routine. Change your mindset to something like, “I can’t wait to go have fun and do things that are great for my body! This time it’s for me, and I will be successful in the game I’m playing.” See how differently you feel about it already? Now, grab your sneakers and take a walk. Every step you take counts, and your future self will thank you for it!