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We spend countless hours deciphering if we should go all the way with a plan, or just slip our hand up the proverbial shirt then stop there. I’m talking about the all-encompassing, underappreciated, hyper-important plan to exercise.
Are we doing it? Are we not doing it? Are we starting the regimen? Are we waiting 'til next week? Are we meeting our friend for the cycle class? Are we skipping it because we need to go shopping or because we’d rather catch up at work? Or watch Netflix? Or... or... or…— countless other excuses we come up with that seem to be more important, but we just end up disappointing ourselves.
We certainly don’t acknowledge or admit it. Too painful. So, we ignore how we treat ourselves. We wouldn’t stand for someone continually disappointing us, but we will do it to ourselves. Repeatedly.
The mind is obviously the most dominant force in our bodies. It talks, we listen. And if we listen and allow our minds to go along with all the little lies and discount the things we know are important, we will find out that we are not really being true to ourselves.
The reality is that our mind needs exercise just like our bodies. It is a muscle that needs to be worked. We need to build that muscle’s strength and discipline. Strength and discipline are learned.
Discipline is basically creating habits. You have to build the brain’s capacity to believe we can do all the things we plan. To believe the disciplinary habits are worthy of your time and energy and build its capacity to live up to its own ideas and aspirations.
Strengthen the mind and the body will follow. Just like the biceps muscle needs repetitive flexion and extension to increase its strength and tone, the mind needs repetition for the same reason.
Sit down and write a list of ten great things you believe about yourself. Words, phrases, whatever comes to mind. Right around three you will re-read. To get to five, you will think about what other people have said they like about you, and to get to ten, you will start writing what you want to believe about yourself (which is probably true about you, but it’s hard to believe and commit to — cue all the reasons you have ever beat yourself up over not being worthy of anything good. Again, a note for another day).
Read this list every friggin’ morning. Like clockwork. Read it, live it, and believe it all, even on days when you roll your eyes at it. Create flash cards and keep them in your purse, backpack, or briefcase. Train your brain to believe you are honest, committed, worthy, strong, and whatever your list is, keep it in the forefront of your mind. After a few days, you will start to think about your list at random times during the day.
Maybe when you are feeling like shit, and you just need to get your head straight. Or when you are feeling good because you have lived up to a belief on your list. Feel proud of yourself! Why not? Sometimes your only friend is you, so treat yourself kindly, because the things on that list are all true.
After a couple weeks of brain strengthening, make a plan to exercise and stick to it. Yes, you are worthy of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. No, you were not predestined to have the same health issues as your family members. Epigenetics anyone? You have energy and motivation, and you believe in yourself. Remember? Now get started.
If you are already exercising but haven’t yet reached the goal you are striving for, move forward with it now. Keep positively reinforcing yourself, and don’t allow yourself to waver. It is true that we all have days where our best is less than we expect.
Accept that at the moment, then get right back up (literally and figuratively) and GET TO IT. Believe in yourself and your brain’s strength to pull you through. Our bodies are plenty strong and can handle way more than we think. It’s our GD brain that tells us we can’t. Strengthen the mind and the body will follow.