For as long as I can remember, I was taught exercise was essential for my body.
I had gym class as far back as kindergarten all the way through high school. So I knew how important it was, but that didn’t encourage me to continue exercising once I wasn’t forced to take gym class any longer.
It wasn’t until my mid-30s that exercise entered my mind again. My clothes felt a little tighter, I moved a little slower, and it didn’t help that I spent a big part of my 20s partying, which entailed a lot of drinking and late-night junk food.
My metabolism slowed down, and the weight went up. I was no longer able to eat whatever I wanted to. I had to watch what I ate and include exercise into my everyday life.
Easy peasy, right? Not so much. When I thought about exercise, it felt like a chore.
It was something I was only doing for the purpose of an end result. I needed to lose five pounds, so I took a spin class until I lost the weight. The moment I dropped those five pounds, I stopped working out. It actually felt good to stop. I worked out hard every day, waiting for the day I could stop. And oh, did I stop.
Then what happened? I gradually put the weight back on, plus some additional pounds. It was an endless cycle of beginnings and endings. What I needed to do was make exercise a habit rather than a chore. I needed to change my mindset so it was something that had an end date. So I made exercise a lifestyle—not a goal.
I chose a few activities I did daily to figure out what made them activities important enough to do them every single day. These were activities that never had an end date. I learned how to incorporate exercise into every aspect of my life. I taught myself to exercise as often as I brushed my teeth.
My personal hygiene is something I do every day, without even thinking about it. It’s something I do as a human being to function in society. More specifically, brushing my teeth feels good, and I would never even think about leaving the house without doing it. Even if I’m just staying at home, brushing my teeth is still essential to my everyday life.
In the same way, I convinced myself that exercise is just like brushing my teeth. I brush my teeth not just to have clean teeth and fresh breath, but so my teeth don’t fall out.
I conditioned myself to believe that exercise is good for my body. There is so much science that backs that idea up. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that stated exercise wasn’t good for me. My body needs it to control my weight, to feel good, and to stay healthy.
So, I made the choice to add exercise as part of my personal maintenance essentials. I made exercise something I do every day without even thinking about it. I also convinced myself that exercise was as important for my mental health, as it releases stress, builds my confidence, and gives me energy. So, I’ve also added exercise as part of my daily mental health check-in.
I would have a cup of coffee every single day; it’s my morning ritual. Some might say that I’m absolutely addicted to coffee. My body craves it, I can smell it from miles away, I would climb mountains for a cup of coffee.
So I thought, why not become completely addicted to exercise too? The more I exercised, the more addictive it became, and now, my body craves it too.
It took me some time to figure out how to fit exercise into my ridiculously, extremely busy life schedule. But if I want something bad enough, I’ll find the time for it. So I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than I normally would wake up so that I could fit it in.
I also had to try different types of exercises, just like I did with coffee, to find out the perfect type. If I am doing something I completely hate, I am more likely to quit.
Eventually, this became a lifestyle, where the goal was to do some sort of exercise each day, with no end date. My goal was to add exercise into my everyday routine—forever.
But I had to want it; I had to do it. No one could make me exercise. It was all on me to make the change.
All we need to do is to set our mind, and our body will always adjust.