Exercise is the one thing that if you'll do it, will make your body more comfortable and brain more healthy long-term.
In my massage work I do more injury rehabilitation than anything, and have had some people ask me what makes the biggest difference in the progress I have seen in my clients. Without exception, that is whether or not the person has a daily exercise routine.
I have a routine now that is a habit, yet it took me years to get to that point. I remember 13 years ago I went to the gym with a friend and marveled at how fit and dedicated she appeared. I thought it was just her character, and that I lacked what it took. Eight years later I started to realize that it's not about character, but about consistent action. It's the daily practice which cultivates the character, not the other way around. You don't need to be disciplined or strong already. You just need to make the choice, and that's what I did.
Even now though, some mornings are just hard! Last night I had night mares all night because I was too hot, so this morning I did not want to wake up. When I did get myself out of bed I did *not* want to go to the gym; especially because today is sprint day and it's 29 degrees out there! I know by this point, however that the best thing for me to do when I don't feel like working out is... drum roll please... to go work out!
Once at the gym I had the option to be on the rowing machine instead of sprint outside in the cold, but I knew that would be wimping out, so I put my tennis shoes to the pavement and sprinted with my workout buddy. Before each set, my mind would give me reasons I shouldn't go out, but just like the Nike saying goes, I just did it.
Part of the ethos I live by is that I act in spite of my mood because I know that eventually I will feel better, and I do. My body and mind feel great now! One of my teachers, T. Harv Ekr, says, "If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you’re willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.
If you are struggling with developing an exercise routine; if have told yourself you will do but don't feel like following through, I encourage you to take the action and show up anyway. You'll feel so much better afterward, and over the years, the results you get from that will make you disciplined, strong and proud!
Now, it is extremely helpful (at first especially) to have a class or coach who will create structure and accountability for you. There are several amazing semi-private gyms in Portland which have very welcoming and supportive culture. Among them, my favorite are Training For Warriors and Bold & Badass Fitness.
Here is an interesting video on what regular exercise does to the body and brain.
Adinah Barlow has been a massage therapist since 2007 and Self-Care Coach since early 2017. She believes that when people prioritize their own well-being, everything else and everyone else in their life becomes exponentially better.