This Simple New Habit is a Game-Changer

You may know this by now as I don’t really keep it a secret, but I hate steady state cardio. The thought of it creates a sense of dread in me. Just imagining doing the same, boring, painful thing for 30, 45, 60 minutes or more conjures up feelings of a whiny, tantruming toddler in me. For instance, when people tell me they “loooove” running, I think to myself “Really? How can this be? Why on Earth…?” Some people have told me that they use that time to think. All I’d be thinking about is “Why am I doing this?! This hurts! Ugh! It’s only been 5 minutes!?” You know, miserable stuff like that. (And I know this because I too used to be a “cardio bunny.”) Due to these negative feelings, I just don’t run unless I plan on participating in a 5k or something. But there is one steady state cardio activity that actually gives me more positive “feels” and that is….. Wait for it….

Walking.

What am I? An 80 year old woman? Hey man, walking is awesome! It doesn’t hurt… It won’t damage my joints… It won’t age my skin (yes, high impact exercise can cause a jolt to the skin which can cause collagen breakdown)… It’s relaxing… And I can multitask when I walk. Multitask? Yep. I can read my e-mails. I can get through a couple chapters in a book. I can dictate blog posts. I can watch YouTube videos. I can do all sorts of things! Mind you, I’m doing this in the comfort of my own home on my treadmill. OR I can do nothing except walk and just let my mind wander. Later in the day I take my dogs for a walk through our neighborhood, otherwise they’ll drive me nuts. There’s no multitasking on those walks. There’s only dog-wrangling and picking up poop.

For the last few weeks I’ve been getting up a little earlier, pouring myself a big ol’ coffee, and hopping on the treadmill with that and my iPad for at least a 30 minute walk at a relaxing pace (3.0-3.5). It has been such an enjoyable way to start my day. Normally I would have my coffee and do my morning reading on the couch with the news on, so now I’m just doing the same thing but I’m not sitting on my ass! And by mid-day I’ve already gotten in my 10,000 steps or more! I’ve been enjoying it so much that I think I might keep it as a (mostly) daily habit.

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One key to creating a new exercise (or even non-exercise) habit is to find something you love (that also moves you towards your goals) and then find a way to fit it into your routine! It takes a while to form a new habit, but give it a few weeks of consistent work and you could soon be doing it for life! For a while it might be necessary for you to actually schedule your new, soon-to-be habit into your day. Then it’ll eventually become part of your daily routine. Remember, no one HAS time for exercise.

We MAKE time for exercise.

I don’t care how busy or not-so-busy someone is. Schedules can always be tweaked. You can always wake up juuuuuust a little bit earlier or go to bed a liiiiiittle bit later if you have to. My husband and I used to get up at 4:45 AM to fit our workouts in. He would set our coffee pot to brew at 4:30, so that there was an additional incentive to get up. We also moved the alarm clock across the room to force him to physically get up. Utilizing little tricks likes these to reinforce your new habit can be very helpful!

The point of this message isn’t to dissuade you from running and convince you to walk instead. The point is to give you permission to discard the stuff you hate and make a habit of doing the stuff you love, especially with exercise. If you dread a certain form of exercise and never look forward to doing it, then you have to ask yourself “why” you’re doing it in the first place. There are loads of ways to fit fitness into your life! Just find something you love doing that moves you closer to YOUR goals and DO IT CONSISTENTLY. Make a fun ritual out of it. For example, I drink my coffee and play on my iPad or listen to podcasts while I walk. Those things make it so much more fun to me! So I actually enjoy getting up a little earlier to fit it in. It’s my quiet “me-time.” It may not be “hardcore” or extremely challenging, but that’s not the purpose of it. That’s what my weightlifting is for. Walking for me is more restorative and is a nice way for me to get my blood flowing in the morning. Plus, because of my Fitbit, I am much more conscious of how many steps I’m taking in a day. My morning walks ensure that I hit my personal step goals.

As an aside, as I was discussing this blog post with my husband he said that what I was saying reminded him of the book he is currently reading: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project). I’m very interested in the development of habits as I truly believe that developing habits is the key to living a healthy life…forever. I’ve decided I’m going to give that book a read as well! If you’d like to join me, you can pick it up here!

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