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What does it take for you to hit the wall, for exhaustion to overwhelm you? Are you naturally blessed with energy reserves? Or do you crash early and often?
What if there is nothing natural about it? What if it isn’t a blessing?
In fact, it is very much a choice.
Energy is a choice.
It is a lifestyle choice. Exercise. Eat well. Do work you enjoy. Practice gratitude. Be altruistic. All of these lifestyle choices contribute to your energy.
It is also a momentary choice. In sports this is called a second wind or an extra gear or a will to win or wanting it more. All of these terms describe a choice that players make to ignore or fight through the pain to increase their effort at the moment when most others begin to flail.
How about you? What choices are you making?
Most people say they want to exercise (or at least want the benefits of exercise). Most people also struggle to match their actions with their intentions. Here are my top ideas for starting and sticking with an exercise routine.
- Get a partner. Nothing will help you more. Find someone who wants to exercise with the same regularity and intensity as you. For extra credit, make it a group of three or four. And don’t let each other off the hook when someone misses a day.
- Schedule it. Put it on your calendar. Treat it like it is just as important as that staff meeting you have on Wednesdays.
- Start small. Exercise for 5 minutes. There are no excuses for not spending 5 minutes exercising. Once 5 minutes is routine you can build from there.
- Make it part of your life. Get a dog. Park at the far end of every parking lot. Park a mile away from work instead of right by the front door. Go for an electronics free after dinner walk with your child, spouse, significant other, neighbor and talk to each other.
There are lots of other ways to get exercise into your life. These are some of my favorites. What about you? What do you do to start and stick to your exercise routine?
The physical extreme most of us experience is an almost complete lack of physical activity. Most of us probably know by now about most of the things we miss out on by not exercising.
- Improved health
- Better mood
- Reduced aging effects
Here’s one more thing to add to the list.
As part of a documentary CNN correspondent Robyn Curnow followed South African artist William Kentridge who considers physical activity key to stimulating his creativity.
So get up before you take on your next big mental task. Walk around. Or get one of these, and open the door to greater health and creativity.
You aren’t tired or energized or happy or sad or nervous or at peace. You only think you are.
In my book, Be the Hero, I talk about how to tell yourself stories that reprogram your brain to feel happier, be more open-minded, make better decisions, be more at peace.
Now new research shows that even our taste buds want in on this action. Carbohydrates consumed during exercise help the body maintain stamina. They provide energy to the muscles to keep going. Here’s the interesting catch.
It appears that a mouth rinse which you don’t even swallow has the same effect as actually ingesting the carbs. Your brain believes carbs are on the way. So it tells the muscles to work harder and longer.
Your mind and body will react to what your brain believes. So remind yourself, you aren’t tired. You are happy. You are at peace. And you just drank a bucket of Gatorade.
Doesn’t matter if none of it is “true.” Believe it is so, and it’s as good as true for you.
Yesterday I asked you about your common phrases. But so what? Why does it matter if I say “no worries” vs. “whatever”? Why should I say “it’s all good” instead of complaining about what isn’t so great? Do I really think we should all be blindly giddy as we accept whatever comes our way?
Of course not.
The point and power of gratitude isn’t that you maniacally accept a miserable existence. It’s that you find sources of strength that lift you up so that you are better able to face your challenges.
There is a parallel in exercise and music. Costas Karageorghis is an associate professor of Sports Psychology at Brunel University and has studied the effects of music on exercise for 20 years. His research has shown that higher tempo music leads people to exercise harder and longer and even enjoy the exercise more than with low tempo music. The soundtrack leads to a more or less pleasant experience and higher or lower performance.
Your word choices are your daily soundtrack. “No worries” lightens your load. “TGIF” leads you to dread Mondays. Positive words aren’t there to push you to stay stuck in a job or marriage or home or relationship or setting or life that you don’t want. Just as up-tempo music isn’t there to lull you into not working out. The positive words give you a foundation of energy from which to act to change your circumstance.