I’m not lazy; but I do wish I could burn calories & get sweating by reading & writing. Maybe that’s why I love my sauna so much. I love a Yin class or a walk in the forest behind our house on the weekends; but when it comes to consistently moving - it just hasn’t been a priority for me. On the 28th February 2022 I made a commitment to myself to move for 20 minutes a day. Some form of exercise - everyday - for 90 days. It seemed quite simple & achievable. I started out with a hiss & a roar but boy did I had to dig deep to stay committed. And I didn’t move every day for 90 days! Only 86 / 90 days - but that’s a hec of an improvement on my previous 90 days so I’m taking it!
Here’s what I’ve learnt:
- 98% of the time I didn’t feel like moving. And about ⅔ of the way through I realised I had an expectation that I would start to feel like moving. A ‘should’ had crept in. It should get ‘easier’. I didn’t even realise I had this expectation until I felt so annoyed & down in the dumps one afternoon about getting out & going for a walk, and the fierce resistance I had echo’ing inside of me. I did this as an experiment to get to know myself a little better & watch that ego of mine - sweet talk me into skipping days. On 4 days it worked. One time I completely forgot (I promise I did - well probably not in the morning; but by the evening I certainly had!) - the day got away & it wasn’t until I was tucked away in bed, that I thought shite - I didn’t move. Another time I was travelling back from Auckland & had an early start - late finish. I knew this but didn’t get up early to exercise - just thought I’d fit it in somewhere - not sure when or where that was going to happen. Another time I had a Staff Party all day - I knew I should have got up early to exercise but told myself I’d do it afterwards - after a 6 hour lunch, who was I kidding! I didn’t. And another was last Friday - Day 89! I was just pooped - so close to the 90 day mark! The f*ck it switch went off. Yes - you know the one - where you just give zero f*cks.
- My ego is crafty. Some examples:
“You did some extra exercise on the weekend - if you skip today it won’t matter.”
“You’ve had a very stressful couple of days - just lie in.”
“You did walk in between meetings around the city - that counts as exercise right?”
- Go with the flow of life - adjust accordingly. Just like seasons in nature, we have different seasons in life. When I first started out I was working from home & it was the end of summer, beginning of Autumn - some of the nicest weather we get all year round in Wellington. So I would often do a lil workout / walk at lunch time which was perfect; sometimes even jumping on the treadmill during internal meetings or calls. This meant my mornings were slow and delicious. I’d rise, meditate, read in the sauna, shower & ease my way into the day. Then life got full. Seasons have changed for me over the past 90 days literally & figuratively. We’ve moved into Winter; daylight savings has stopped; the mornings are dark; the evenings are dark. Some days it’s just plain grey, windy & miserable. Not conducive at all to a lunchtime walk. Our businesses have higher demand & once again we’ve entered growth mode. This has meant more time travelling & in the office & not the luxury of jumping on the treadmill or breaking for a 20 minute workout mid day. If I didn’t move in the morning - sometimes I would be doing it at 8pm at night; so my mornings have started earlier & include movement at the moment.
- Variety helps. I downloaded the SWEAT app. This has a lot of different 15 - 25 minute workouts. I also found a simple yoga flow - only 30 mins that I have been doing for the past 2 weeks in the morning before my meditation practice.
- Just start. Before my ego has time to figure out what else needs to be done; what is more important - I would put my shoes on; or lay out my mat & just start.
- Some planning gives freedom. As my days grew more full; it became imperative to plan my workout; in the planning there was freedom. And not a nagging thing to fit in my day in my periphery of my mind.
- I always feel better after moving. Always.
We talk about our human nature & why it’s so hard to create a new habit in the Awareness Insight Meditation Course I teach - as developing a new meditation practice is a new habit & it’s for 20 minutes TWICE a day. We can learn so much about ourselves simply from the discipline of the practice. When we have an understanding of our ego & the role it plays; it can make it a little easier to stick to our commitments. I have learned to acknowledge my ego for looking out for me and often have a giggle to myself at how crafty it can be. There are some stumbles & trips along the way but that’s all a part of the human experience, and those stumbles & trips always provide some beautiful insights about ourselves.
So, starting & sticking to a new habit is hard. To create change we must take action. Create new lived experiences. If you’re starting a new habit or trying to break an old one; and finding it difficult; rest assured that’s because you too are human. Keep at it - and let that ego of yours know - you’ve got this.