Moving Our Bodies
Moving our bodies, every day, and with effort, is a foundation for more joy.
It makes us more energetic, happier, and clearer. It burns calories It's good for the organs and systems in your body. It helps us live longer.
And, maybe the biggest reason: Moving our bodies makes us better for ourselves and for the people around us.
There are two parts to moving for more joy:
Move throughout the day, every day
Idea 1: The 2-2-1
Every hour, during your work (or your day-to-day), get up from what you're doing and take a five minute movement break. If you stick with this, you're likely to feel fresher, more energetic, and more upbeat at the end of your day.
Think 2–2–1: Two minutes of stretching, two minutes of walking, and one minute of focused breathing. Once every hour.
Here are a few tips:
Set a phone alarm or a wearable device to remind you every hour.
The stretching can be a few minutes of yoga or Qi Gong (if you haven't tried Qi Gong, you are in for a surprise and a treat. At first, it might look odd, but, wow, is it rejuvenating).
Two minutes of walking will get you about 200 steps.
Let yourself re-center when you breathe. Spend one minute gently focusing on on your breath
After your movement break, grab a glass of water (and maybe a bio break), then get to whatever you need to get to.
If you're really focused on what you're doing, it can be hard to get up every hour. It can feel like an interruption. Here's the deal: You replenish before you need it so you don’t get depleted and instead, keep your attitude and energy up. Try it for a few days and see how you feel at the end of the day. There's a good chance you'll be surprised by more physical and mental energy.
Be gentle with yourself. If you miss an hour, just get up for the next hour break.
Less fatigue. More zest.
Consider finding a 2-2-1 partner.
When we want to develop (and keep) positive habits, it really helps to be around people who have similar habits. Try to recruit a coworker or friend to join you.
Idea 2: Reach a daily step goal
How many steps do you need a day? Here's what the research says:
7,000 steps a day is tied to better sleep.
10,000 steps a day is a popular goal (but isn't tied to any health goals)
12,000 steps a day is linked to higher longevity.
Generally, more steps are better.
Here are a few tips:
You can find a high quality pedometer for about $25. Wearable fitness trackers are effective and convenient--a great option if one fits your budget.
Your phone can count steps, but that means you have to keep it on you... Which isn't usually a great idea.
When you're first starting, pay attention to where and when you are getting your steps. Then look for ways to get more. You could park further than normal. Or get up every hour (see 2-2-1 above). We love finding mini-loops to get steps in our homes. Or putting things away quickly, which has side benefits. Be creative and deliberate about finding new ways to get steps.
When you're starting, find an incremental path to your step goal. Set yourself up to be successful by starting with achievable and realistic goals.
Say, if you normally get 4,000 steps a day and your goal is to get to 10,000. Strive for 6,000 steps/day the first week. Pay attention to where you are getting steps. Look for ways to get more. Enjoy the process of looking for new ways--creativity is a boost. Then, the next week, you can work toward 8,000 steps/day. See how you're feeling and bump it up when you're ready for the next level.
Bonus: Try to get steps with other people, too
Try walking meetings--called "walk-and-talks."
Or walk while you're on the phone.
Or a lovely tradition of a family walk after dinner.
Idea 3: Put stuff away, right away
Have you counted how long it takes to put something away? You can put almost anything away in 30 seconds. You can be standing in one spot, decide "I'm going to put this thing away and not get sidetracked," walk to put something where it belongs, and be back in the same spot in under 30 seconds.
You'll get steps and stay tidier. Try it and see how long it takes.
A few ideas to...
Help you become a consistent exerciser.
Idea 1: Involve other people
When we’re around people who already have exercise as part of their lifestyle, it just seems normal. Bring up exercise as a topic. And make it a regular topic. Deliberately let their exercise habits and their mindsets have a positive impact on you.
Here are a few tips:
Look for people who have exercise habits and mindsets that you find positive, or whose approach resonates with you. You always want to be thoughtful about who you want to influence you.
It helps to talk with people who have a similar day to day experience. If you work full-time, or if how do other people do it? If you’re with your kids all day, talk with people in the position.
You can this a step further and find someone to exercise with. When we have a friend or partner to exercise with, we make a commitment to them. And we're way more likely to follow through on commitments we make to other people.
That neighbor prepping for the ultramarathon? Or the coworker who wakes up at 4:30? If that's your goal, then these can be inspirational people to talk with. But if you're looking for something different, remind yourself that other people's goals aren't yours,
Your habits affect the people around you.
As you become a consistent exerciser, you help others become consistent exercisers, too.
Idea 2: Some Exercise Is Better Than No Exercise
Seeing yourself make small, incremental efforts day after day, week after week, lets you know that you can make choices and follow through on those choices.
And, in the process, the act of exercise becomes more natural
Here are a few tips:
Set yourself up for success: Be realistic in your weekly goals. Plan to get just a little better than the prior week.
A free exercise plan is Seven. It's literally seven minutes of exercise! You can do it while you're waiting for the water for your morning coffee or tea. Seven minutes? Yes, you can!
A good incremental (and free) plan is Couch to 5K. You start with ten minutes of alternating jogging and walking, and let your body and mind get you incrementally to running a 5K in a few weeks.
Figure out if where there are stumbling blocks and prep for them in advance. If it’s too cold in the morning, have a sweatshirt next to you so you can warm up before you get out of bed. If you're starving after work, bring a protein bar or nuts or a small sandwich. And if you’re embarrassed about how you look → most people aren’t paying attention to you, and the people who are judging have their own challenges--that’s their struggle, and it's not your struggle.
It's normal set an ambitious plan: High intensity intervals! Cardio, strength training, plyometrics, yoga, foam rolling. YES! ALL OF IT. Take a beat--that's a lot to keep up with, especially if you're in the early stages. You can get there, but allow yourself the time to build the muscles, stamina, and mindset to get there.
If you miss a day, it's okay. It's normal. But try really hard not to miss two workouts in a row.
If you strive for perfection, you'll struggle.
Idea 3: Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and REFRAME the Unhelpful Ones
Really listen to the thoughts and feelings you have about exercise. Figure out which ones help you and which ones are limiting beliefs.
Here are a few thoughts you can reframe:
Old thought: I'm just not an exerciser.
New thought: I am an exerciser, now.
Why? We all have identities. Maybe you think of yourself as a father or a moderate or a learner. Add exerciser to your identity. Then, when it’s time to go out for a walk or get to the gym, you can deliberately tell yourself, "I’m an exerciser."
Your identity is yours to define. It’s okay that you weren’t an exerciser yesterday. Or over the last 20 years. Because now, now you are an exerciser.
Maybe you’ll have a conversation in your head. Your thoughts will say “You’re not an exerciser, don’t lie.” Be prepared to say, “I wasn't an exerciser before, but I am one, now.”
Old thought: I hate exercise
New thought: I'm getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Why? Hate is a toxic emotion. When you go into something with “hate”, you’ve already framed it. Acknowledging that it's uncomfortable, and that you are building the ability to be okay with that, is freeing.
Feeling hatred also sets you in a tougher spot: Instead of feeling neutral about it, you feel negative. Your gap to go from hate to feeling a little positive is a much bigger gap.
Old thought: I just don’t like it.
New thought: I'm finding ways to enjoy it, right now.
Why? There are infinite ways to exercise, one size doesn't fit all. There’s the obvious things like running, biking, aerobics, strength training, and ZUMBA, You can dance for ten minutes in the morning, Keep trying ideas until you find something you enjoy. When you find something you enjoy, you get a "right now reward" and create a positive association.
Other ideas for "right now rewards" include bundling the exercise with something you already love:
A common one is watch riveting TV when you’re on the treadmill or a cardio machine.
Great music --our bodies tend to sync with music, that’s a powerful positive association
Old thought: I don’t have enough time.
New thought: I'm prioritizing exercise.
Why? A question to ask is when do you have open time? There's a good chance that you have hours of available time in the evenings--most Americans do, but the rub is that our energy is spent. So, we spend the time we do have doing something to wind-down the day--TV, computer, and phones are the most common (this is true for men and women, different ages, and different income levels). If your open time is in the evening, then it can be really hard to summon the energy to exercise. If you are facing dwindling evening energy, then just getting started can be the biggest hurdle. So only commit to five minutes. Put on your shoes and do the first five minutes. And then, if you’re not into it, it’s okay--you got in five minutes, that's more than zero! Then try again tomorrow. As always, if you can find someone to join you for the five minutes, that can make a world of difference.