24 June 2014
Exercise - Part 6: Keeping going
In this series I've talked about the benefits of exercise, motivation, establishing a habit, what I do, and what equipment I use. In this last post I want to talk about keeping going once the habit is established.
In some respects habits drive themselves. That's kind of what makes them habits. It's just something that you do without thinking about it.
But at the same time as humans we have free will and everything we do, even habitually, is a choice. Let's face it - on some days the choice to exercise is easier than others. So what keeps me going when the choice is difficult?
Well, exercising is now what I expect of myself. It's not something I need to talk myself into, it's a basic expectation, like brushing my teeth. I don't have to make the decision to exercise as I know I'm going to. I know it's in my best interest, I know I will feel better for it and it's just something I need to do to retain self respect.
I also feel so much better for it so I do it because I deserve it. I make sure that exercise is one of the things I have to fit into my life them because I deserve to look after myself. I deserve to feel better and to keep healthy.
I also owe it to my family. I am so grateful to have a husband who looks after himself with healthy diet and regular exercise and I owe him the same. I want to be around with my family for a long time and I want to be in the best possible shape to enjoy my life with them. Last year I was a burden on my family because of poor health and I want to do all I can to avoid that ever happening again.
I make sure I stay interested and motivated by switching it up. If I don't feel like walking or getting my heart rate up I lift some weights. If I need to burn off some stress I go for a run. If I'm bored of my usual exercise I do something I haven't done in a while like hike or swim. Sure, some days none of the above appeals to me - then I just pick a short, intense workout and get it over and done with. But switching it up definitely helps, even if it's simply changing my walking route.
I also find it helpful to enlist a companion. On days when I don't feel like walking it's much more enjoyable to do so with Grant, my boys, or a friend. When chatting and catching up you hardly notice you are exercising (except on those hills when you can't speak because you're out of breath!)
I watch where my focus is. Our two boys are typical first-world kids in that they can complain about things that aren't really problems. I often find myself saying to them, "You can focus on the doughnut or focus on the hole - you have both in your hand." It's the same when I'm working out. I can focus on my sore feet, my thumping heart, the discomfort, the cold, the wind, the time it takes, the effort it requires; or I can focus on how it makes my life better, the beautiful sunrise, the energy it brings me, the sunshine on my face, the feeling of aliveness. I choose to focus on the things that make me feel good and keep me wanting to do it, rather than the things that make me want to stop.
And finally, we've made exercising part of our family culture. We often choose active ways of spending time together - playing on the beach, swimming, walking, cycling, etc. And as soon as Daisy has had all of her shots we'll have enjoyable family time walking her too. It's become normal for us to get some exercise as we hang out.
To wrap up this series I thought I'd share a little video montage of active moments. I hope you'll find as much enjoyment in activity as I now do!