Oh exercise, how I struggle with you. With just a quick look through the blog, it's easy to find multiple posts in which I'm either committing to exercising more or lamenting the fact that I've failed at exercising more (see here, here, here, here, and here for just a few examples). It's not a habit that comes easily to me.
The problem, for me, is that there are so many things that I would rather being doing than exercising. Reading, blogging, cuddling with my cats and/or girlfriend, eating out, cooking at home, etc. etc. There is no shortage of things that I want to do, and it is always difficult to say no to them in order to do something that doesn't really appeal to me.
But I know I need to. For my stress level, for my health, for my happiness. Everything is better when I get exercise. So this month, I set myself the goal of exercising three times a week. I didn't set any specific requirements for how long or what type of exercise or anything else, I simply had to move. And I'm happy to report that I was almost perfect. In the entire month, I only missed one workout, and that was due to the fact that I had such bad sciatic pain that I could barely walk.
In addition to working on the habit, I wanted to observe myself and figure out what helped me/hindered me when it came to exercise. I want to better understand why I've failed in the past so that hopefully I can do better at making this a lifelong habit. If nothing else, it will be much more interesting for the blog if I can set a monthly goal for myself that isn't exercising! Here's what I learned over the past month:
Variety: I've tried in the past to just run on the treadmill in my building three times per week, and it gets boring very quickly. (Not to mention the bloody sciatic pain. My borderline obese body was not designed for running.) This time I've been trying to do more variety - walking outside, yoga classes, aerobics classes, elliptical - and it's definitely easier to stay motivated.
Planning: I do much better if I sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out my exercise than if I just try to wing it. Not surprisingly. (I didn't promise that these would be profound observations, just observations.)
Changes in Schedule: I have been aiming for a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday exercise schedule, which is great when it works, but terrible if I happen to have an extra morning clinic or something else that interferes with my plans. Going forward, I'm going to have to get better at dealing with the things that throw me off of my schedule. (Case in point: I have an 8 am lecture to attend tomorrow, combined with our local LGBTQ film festival in the evening, and I have no idea how to deal with it yet.)
Mood: My mood has been vastly better over the past month than it has been in perhaps ever. While I think the counseling and the improvements in my relationship have played a huge part, I certainly don't want to discount the role that exercise is probably playing.
So, for the first time in ever, let's call this month of exercising a success!
As for October (quick comment before rushing off to Thanksgiving dinner #2), my goal is to not look at my net worth. Not once. I normally check it on a daily basis and think about it pretty obsessively, so going 31 days without looking at it is a big step for me. But one that has been good so far, and one that I think is necessary for my happiness.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada! Hope you enjoy your turkey (or Aloo Gobi, which is how we're celebrating this year).