Monday, August 27, 2007

Problems with Stick-With-It-Ness? What if You Redefined Exercise?

Exercise and Diet. We link them together like Death and Taxes. And, like it or not, the subliminal message we send to ourselves when we hear those two words is one of negativity. I call it the DEF principle. Diet+Exercise=Failure.

So what if we redefined exercise (or diet, for that matter) in our minds?

The topic came up at a gathering of girlfriends this weekend. One who struggles with both the E&D words, complained that she didn’t have any problems getting motivated to start a new regime, but that each time, the ‘itty-bitty-shitty-committee’ in her head just kept telling her she was going to fail, until she gave in and gave up.

So what if the effort wasn’t about exercise? Don’t start walking or running (or dieting) because it’s good for you and good for your health (although it is!). Make it the ultimate answer to something that you associate with enjoyment…..stress release, relaxation, solitude. If you’re the martyr type, make it about another’s needs…. walking the dog, motivating or connecting with a friend, or spending quality time with family.

I’ve always wanted to run another marathon. But every time I started a program, I fizzled. I like to encourage others but am not great at encouraging myself, so when a friend said she wanted to run a half marathon (26 km) someday, I said I’d train with her. So it became about her goal, not mine. My motivation came from the necessity to motivate her.

Another friend says she just can’t find extra time for her girlfriends, so at least once a week, she calls one and suggests a walk together. Exercise has become her ‘catching up with friends time’. She walks further (and faster!).

The light came on. My friend with the “itty-bitty-shitty-committee” voice has a five-year old son who often follows her on his bike when she walks. So, she decided to redefine her exercise. She’s going to make her nightly walk about him. She wants her son to develop healthy habits in his life, to connect exercise with enjoyment and the best way is to show him how is through her own habits. Her walk becomes his bike ride and their special time, just a mom & son doing something together.

Itty-bitty voices can’t argue with that one.

1 comment:

Carolynn said...

I'm going to have to steal the "itty-bitty-shitty-committee" reference. It's too good to pass up!