I was born with “skinny” genes and never had to worry about exercise. That is until age caught up with me. I still consider myself to be on the skinny side, but things like hip pain, sleeplessness, and good old flab (yuck) began to creep in. I really HATED working out and that was a problem. Every time I would think about working out, I would do this mental dance with myself. “I really SHOULD work out. But I really don’t want to. You’ll feel better when it’s over. Maybe I’ll do it later or tomorrow.” The guilt pangs were awful.
Fast forward to StartUp Weekend 2012 (an annual event for StartUp wannabees) which takes place all over the world and I happened to attend one in Grand Rapids. A couple guys pitched an idea for an app called THE 21 DAY CHALLENGE. The theory is that any habit can be broken or created by either doing the behavior (or not doing it) for 21 consecutive days. I decided to put this to the test. I wanted to find out if I could ENJOY working out after 21 days of doing it. If that actually happened, wouldn’t that be amazing?
With vigor and excitement, I decided to approach it like a game – could I do it? I was determined to prove to myself that I could. It was tough – my job required travel so I had to get up early and use the hotel fitness room (something I had NEVER done). Or, I found myself at my kids’ all day track meet, so in between races, I went for a fast walk on the school grounds for 40 minutes. I figured out a way to get it done every day for 21 days.
The results: By the end of the 21 days, I had more energy, slept better and in general felt more positive. However, initially, I did not ENJOY working out and was bummed about that. BUT, because I felt so much better physically, I decided it was totally worth it and kept the momentum going. Now two years later, I actually enjoy working out. In fact, I look forward to it. It has become a kind of meditation and validation for me. I set out to accomplish something, and I do it.
It is critical to find the RIGHT type of exercise. Are you someone who enjoys motivation from others around you? Then classes fit the bill. Do you like to get in a zone with your favorite music? Then maybe walking, running or a treadmill is your secret sauce. How about a mental challenge? The practice of yoga is all about pushing past where you think you can go. You can do it.
Have you taken the 21 day challenge? I would love to hear your story.
I also have to add that I wouldn’t have made it through without the constant and empowering encouragement from my friend, my mentor and colleague, Sandy Rikkers. She is my favorite Super hero!