Thursday, June 27, 2013

9:05 PM
Always enlightening, the NYT Well blog had a great little piece last week about the habit-forming nature of exercise:

In study after study, researchers have found that one of the primary reasons people continue exercising is that they enjoyed yesterday’s exercise or the exertions of the day before; they felt healthier and more physically masterful afterward and wish to relive that sensation. Longer periods between exercise sessions potentially could dull that enthusiasm.

Intuitively and empirically, I totally knew this. Normally, I work out in some capacity for about an hour each day, which does wonders for my stress levels and overall happiness. On the days that life gets in the way of my workouts, I am left feeling a bit grumpy and out of sorts, and so for everyone's sake I do try to minimize those interruptions to my routine.

That being said, and life being what it is, there have of course been many times that I have gotten busy, sick, or injured enough that I have had to forgo exercise for multiple days in a row. That not exercising is always an interesting process for me. At first I am incredibly antsy and stressed about not working out. Then (as the above article says) after a couple of days I start to feel like - wow, I have so much more time now, I think I should work out less. Luckily, after a few days of complacency I usually kick myself back into gear and get back to my try to fit in at least an hour a day or I am gonna go crazy routine.

I realize that for many people getting back on the horse of exercising and staying on is a challenge when there are so many competing demands for attention and energy. I also know that sometimes we are all very good at making lots of excuses that prevent us from taking the leap, or the small step, required to give ourselves the gift of personal wellness. The running streak I am doing has been an interesting lesson on this front. There have been more days than I would like to admit that I have only been able to (made the time to?) run one or two miles. If I wasn't doing the streak I would have said - whats the point of only running one or two miles? fuggedaboutit. But because I was streaking, I did go out and run for 10 or 20 minutes and guess what, I felt a lot better for having done it than I would have for having skipped it, streak or no streak.

Virtual Spin Class (photo credit)
On Tuesday night I confronted an exercise-related excuse that I realized I had been making for several weeks now head on. Specifically, as I describe in my Home Sweet Home Gym post, one of the work outs that I like to do at home is a "spin class" wherein I watch a spinning video and pedal along. Always eager to please, I will do whatever a teacher tells me to, whether he/she is in front of a class that I am in or shouting at me from a TV. To make a long story short, through annoying server malfunction, the relay between the computer where my spin videos are saved and the TV where I can watch and hear them is not working and hasn't been for sometime. Since I really know nothing useful about computers, I added the issue to my husband's rather lengthy HoneyDo list and conveniently used this not having sound thing as an excuse as to why I couldn't do spin anymore at home, instead of doing it twice a week as I used to.

It was all well and good at first because I was so busy with life and my new job and this blog that I frankly needed the extra time that not doing spin gave me. But then I realized that this blog is no good to me or you or anybody if doing this means I am short-changing myself in other ways. So on Tuesday night I dragged my spin bike in front of the computer and did a tough and silent hill-climbing work out based on the visual cues and my memory. Sure, it wasn't ideal, in the way that a two-mile run isn't ideal when you are used to doing six, but I recognized the excuse for what it was and silenced it in a way that I needed to. I also reminded my husband of the sound issue so hopefully, tonight's silent spin will be my last for a while (i.e., until the computer goes bat-sh*t crazy again).

I will always say listen to your body with respect to what you should be doing related to exercise or otherwise.  But by that I also mean - listen to it also when it is saying go for it - something is better than nothing and you will feel better for having done it.

Only you can make time for you.

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