What does it take to commit to the kind of exercise routine you have? What stops people from keeping their word once they begin?
My friend Sandi throws these questions at me casually, as though she is asking if I’d like some wine and soft music. So what does it really take to wake up at 4:30am after only 5 hours of sleep – I tend to work till at least 11:00pm and even then I am tearing myself away and forcing my mind to shut down for a while – and to drive in the dark (and soon, cold) to go to a hard-core 5:45am class 5 days a week? What does it take to do it twice some days, with an evening cycling routine thrown in?What does it take for you to stick to it?
I am tempted to repeat my husband and say insanity. I am tempted to echo my most recent promise to myself, which is that I have got to have Demi Moore’s body at 48: Drop Dead Gorgeous, and believe me when I say that there are just a handful of celebrities I worship. I am even tempted to credit my fantastic self-discipline.
Ah, rubbish! None of that works at 4:30am!
To be honest, it all started with a deep-rooted fear and one I am not ashamed to admit: that of growing weak, of losing muscle mass, of losing my stamina and flexibility and agility, of losing my intense and boundless energy someday, of not begin able to catch my breath after a flight of stairs, and of getting fat – yes, I said fat, not obese, not overweight, but just FAT – and of feeling old. Quite simple: paranoia!
Then a funny thing happened: the intense exercise, deep yoga practice, and meditation came to rescue me from my paranoia state.
Not only have they restored me physically with a fit, strong, healthy body; they have also assuaged the fear and taught me to accept that aging is a fact of life and to learn to do it gracefully and slowly.
And that is fantastic! That alone makes me want to tell you to go out there and commit fully to a regimen and never think about giving up.
But another thing started to happen: I started to see far more productivity, more creativity, and more energy, more drive toward my goals and dreams everyday.
I started to think about more ideas, and I became tougher in the face of failure and disappointment and soon, the irrational fear that brought me here started to disappear. I admit, there was even a period of a couple of months where I experimented with my productivity by slowing down my intense exercise greatly so I could “work harder” and I am convinced that was a poor decision in hindsight. Now, after re-committing to my old routine of intense exercise, my body has never felt stronger and happier.
The main problem is this: you underestimate what a healthy and strong body can really do for you.
You don’t attain optimal health so that you just grow to a very old age or avoid doctors and hospitals. No! It is much more than that.
Optimal health unifies you with your very best and brings out your highest potential. Optimal health arms you with true power. Optimal health can be the difference between misery and happiness, between doubt and confidence, between failure and success. Optimal health is immeasurable in its benefits and rewards and worth every ounce of pain and sacrifice.
The rewards from optimal health are also impossible to imagine unless you give it a first-hand try.
So you must do something for yourself. You cannot just wish for health, no matter what your religion or belief system. You must work on your health. You cannot wish for strong abs and beautiful muscles. You must go through some work to get there. You cannot do any of this overnight. You need to invest the time, effort and energy and commit to it.
The truth is brutal and simple but what’s more brutal and less simple is the weight of regret, when you have neglected the greatest gift of all: your health.
Here are my quick tips for aspiring to optimal health, and whoever you may be, you can put these to work for you:
1. Want it.
Admit that you want it badly and dearly. Admit it to yourself and remember it.
2. Cultivate a habit.
We are creatures of habit and we find new comfort zones even in habits that are hard to form.
3. Be flexible.
If a routine or a program or a type of exercise doesn’t give you results, move on, shake it up, do something else.
4. Start small but adapt.
Don’t start by running 20 miles but do adapt after running 2 miles becomes easier. Don’t go to a yoga class and try headstand in first class but don’t stay comfortable and breeze either. Find the edge and push it always.
5. Do something you love.
I don’t do outdoors much; I can’t stand the bugs. I love cycling but don’t like running. I love yoga but not Pilates. Find something you enjoy, even if you are pushing yourself in it. Find something you can love doing.
6. Measure progress.
If there is no progress in your body and mind after 10 days or 2 weeks, change things up and measure again. Keep an eye on your weight, body structure, how you feel, how you work and when you find something that works, embrace it.
7. Believe you are stronger than you think.
You are. It is all in your mind. People have done amazing things with their body because they have always believed that they are stronger than they think and therefore, they become.
Our bodies are amazing instruments and we should learn how to play them beautifully.
If not you, then who?
And if not now, then when?
Farnoosh Brock is a corporate escapee, writer, blogger, techie, photographer, yogini, and coach over at Prolific Living, a space that started with her but now thrives with her amazing growing community.
Note from me:
Farnoosh’s 10 Minute Daily Invigorator is one of only two products I promote and that’s because I’ve been using it and noticing a difference for myself. I’ll be sharing more about my self-care practice later in the week, but if you want to get started now you can get your own copy of the Invigorator here.