Day 2 of the OurCraves 7-Days to Deeper Self Love Challenge is to complete some form of exercise.
Before you roll your eyes and cancel your spot in the challenge, hear me out.
I didn’t grow up doing any sport, and I didn’t magically have a natural predisposition to achieving at any kind of exercise. While I’ve always been small, I wasn’t always fit. I would huff and puff when running, and quite frankly, I hated it. Running was the first type of exercise I actually pursued because my husband enjoyed it, and so I joined him, all the while protesting.
I felt unfit. I felt heavy in my system. The movement felt unnatural and so laboured. But, when you have no space, no gym membership, and no equipment, you sign up for getting outdoors and discontinuing all other excuses. And so every day I tried again. I walked less and ran further. That’s a story for another post, but suffice to say that I actually really started to enjoy running.
Fast forward to today. While I still go for a run every now and then, my main form of exercise has reverted back to yoga. I’ve been doing yoga for a few years, with increasing commitment over the past 2 years or so. It’s what I enjoy, what I’m passionate about, and it’s something I can continue to improve at for years to come.
My hope is that if you’re new to sport and/or regular exercise, that that little background story will help you realise that you can do it too. There’s no magic formula, but there are few things sweeter than being able to do something you couldn’t before. The key is consistency, along with some bits other I’ve figured out along the way, which are listed below.
Guidelines for choosing and sticking to an exercise routine:
- Choose a type of exercise that you already enjoy or are interested in. This could be anything from a brisk walk, to dancing or mountain biking, as long as it gets your heart pumping.
- Aim for 45 minutes of exercise, 3 times per week, but leave the all or nothing attitude behind. Some days will be so busy, you’ll only be able to sneak in 5 minutes. Other days you may be moving for an hour or more. Keep practicing, and the habit will form.
- Know that motivation isn’t something you just have. Motivation comes and goes. Some days you’ll be really excited to get moving, and other days, you’ll grimace at the thought of it. DO IT ANYWAY.
- Exercise at the same time, each scheduled day. This helps with developing the habit, as well as getting yourself to complete your exercise ‘without thinking.’ Similarly to brushing your teeth or taking a shower, it becomes one of those things you ‘have to’ do without question.
- Commit to your choice of exercise as a new part of your current lifestyle. Much as you wouldn’t cancel plans with your friends at the 11th hour, get up, dress up, and show up for yourself.
And just in case you needed an extra nudge, some of the additional benefits I’ve discovered through exercise are that:
- Thanks to your endorphins, you feel good after a work out. Have you ever regretted moving your body?
- You’ll develop greater confidence in yourself, which boosts self esteem.
- You begin to realise that you are in control of certain things, and in to a large extent, only you are responsible for your success. No one can or will complete your work out for you. And when you notice some changes in your body, whether that be weight loss, muscle gain, increased strength or flexibility, you’ll know that it’s because of your own efforts.
- You start appreciating your body as a whole, instead of different parts that are connected. If you don’t learn this naturally, injury will teach it to you.
- You’ll develop discipline. Sticking to your programme come rain or shine, whether you’re pumped or lethargic, will help you develop discipline, making it possible for you to achieve even more in other areas of your life.
- You’ll learn about how wonderful your body is. It’s resilient, powerful, and capable of more than you imagine.
I hope that you’ll slowly incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, and that it’ll not only bring you better health, but greater joy too.