excuses

I wish I took my advice more often

What if I told you I know a trick that can help you sleep better, gain clarity, release stress, lose weight and feel happier. Would you do it? What if this trick took at least 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week?

Even though I know this trick (and you do too), I rarely do it. It’s EXERCISE!

Riding my Flying Pigeon in Astoria Park

There’s nothing like a bike ride on a sunny say.

As a writer I focus so much on my brain that it’s easy to forget that brain is housed in a body that needs care too. Our bodies are meant to move. We come from hunters and gatherers. Our ancestors were running, squatting, swimming and climbing. If you forced our ancestors to sit in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day they’d probably go insane. Exercise is in our DNA, and when we embrace it everything seems to get better.

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Look at how happy Mike looks running around the sand dunes.

The crazy thing is that the very same excuses I use to not exercise are the things that exercise alleviates. I’ll say that I’m too tired, but when I force myself to workout, I feel more energized and I sleep better. I’ll say that my muscles are sore, but when I exercise, I feel them loosening up and the pain goes away. I’ll say that I don’t have enough time, but while I’m running I have wonderful insights and I’m able to get more done when I get home. Again and again, my writing practice is improved by my exercise practice because exercise teaches me the value of discipline, and the joy of finishing something I didn’t think I could start.

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The joy of spending a week walking in nature!

About a thousand times now I’ve come to the realization that exercise is the greatest thing I can do for myself. I’ve wanted to write this post so many times but whenever I’m about to I slip into lazy mode and I feel like a hypocrite for touting the benefits of exercise. But the great thing about exercise is that you ease back into it whenever you want to. There is always some form of motion that you can start doing to get back on track.

So on that note, I’m off to the gym!

Three Reasons Why My Body Is Smarter Than My Brain.

I’ve been running two to three times a week for over a year now and I’m a huge fan of the positive effects. Not on my waistline – that hasn’t changed much – but on my mentality. One thing running has shown me time and time again is that my brain has no idea what is possible. Here’s the proof:

1. For years I thought I couldn’t break a 10 minute mile. I’d feel like sh*t at that pace so I didn’t bother pushing myself to go faster. Last night I decided, oh what the hell, I’ll just run a half mile at an 8 minute pace. After four minutes I decided, heck, I’ve gone this far I might as well see how much more I can do. I finished the mile in 8 minutes and 10 seconds. Take that brain!

2. For years I thought I couldn’t run more than 2 miles. A few weekends ago I decided every Saturday I would just run for 45 minutes straight at whatever pace I could handle. I’ve been running four miles consistently since then. I guess I thought wrong again.

3. Whenever I think I can’t go any further I increase the speed on the treadmill. This is a trick my dad taught me when I was a kid. Always sprint the last quarter. It reminds your brain that it has no idea what your body can actually handle.

One thing I’ve learned from TLC, is that we often think we are living our lives at 100% when in actuality we’re living at 20% or 50% at best. I am constantly reminded of this when I run. I always think I’m giving it my all, but that’s simply not the case. Imagine what we could do if we really pushed ourselves in all aspects of life; If we stopped letting our brains say, “that’s impossible.”

We are so much more capable than we think.

How do we let fear stop us?

I’m a coward. I wrote the first post about a month ago and it took me that long to make it public.  Was it hard to start a blog? No, that took about three minutes. Was I editing, and fine-crafting my writing? Definitely not. The truth is I made it very clear what my goals are, and by making them public I stand to make myself a public failure if I don’t achieve those goals. Isn’t it enough to have a good idea! Why can’t I just stop there?

I made plenty of excuses. Here are some of them:

Maybe I should try making money before pretending to be an expert.

I’m going to Spain for a month. How am I going to blog while I’m there? It’s not like they have the internet way over in Europe, right?

My computer’s really old, I should wait until I get a new one.

I can’t spell, and I get comma happy,,,

I need to dust under the couch. In fact my apartment is so dirty I’ll never have time to maintain a blog.

It’s a (insert day of the week here) and everyone knows it’s bad luck to start a blog on a (insert same day here).

BUT my boyfriend kept at it, and I couldn’t stand him coming home every night with that expectant look. “Did you start your blog yet???” He would ask EVERY day. Sometimes twice a day. So really I just started it to get him to stop bugging me.  If I ever make money from this, I will owe him a huge chunk. Shoot! Did I just put that in writing?

Well, let’s take a look at why we are ruled by our fears. And, yes, I know I’m not the only one. I am currently reading How to Do What You Love for a Living by Nancy Anderson. Ignore the cheesy cover, it’s actually really insightful. In addition to the great exercises and anecdotes she gives, she analyzes why we stay in jobs that we hate. Here are some of the basic fears that control our lives:

1. Fear of poverty

2. Fear of Criticism

3. Fear of loss of love

4. Fear of old age

5. Fear of death

If you think those fears don’t effect you think again. When I first read the list I didn’t think they applied to me. After all, I’m not poor, I’m pretty confident, I’m surrounded by unconditional love, I’m young, and I’m not dying anytime soon (knock on wood). However, when I read over the descriptions again with an open mind my head was bobbing up and down so much I hurt my neck. I’m just going to go over the first two. If you want more info read the book yourself. Click on the picture of the book to connect to Amazon.

When considering a new job, or a big change have you ever been slowed down by  indifference, worry, indecision, overcaution, and/or procrastination? These are all symptoms of a fear of poverty. And this fear can effect people with money even more than people without. When you know what’s at stake it’s a lot more scary. What does money mean for you? For me, it means control, independence, and freedom. Remember the first time you went to a store with your own money? Remember how good it felt to get exactly what you want and not have to beg your parents for it? When I was 12 I won a $100 and I spent it all on candy at CVS. I got what I wanted and didn’t have to ask for it. If I don’t have money, how will I ever get what I want? I will be at the mercy of other people’s charity. How would you feel without money? Bad enough to continue doing something you don’t like?

Have you experienced self-consciousness, lack of initiative , lack of ambition, and an inferiority complex? I can hear you saying yes. Well then you have suffered from a fear of criticism. I remember going to a brainstorming meeting with my brother. After hearing the initial pitch, I had some ideas but I thought they were pretty lame. I decided I would observe for a while, let my ideas mature, and then maybe share them. As the meeting went on people kept sharing the ideas I had but never vocalized, and everyone would applaud and say, “that’s brilliant!” At first I thought those people were just idiots, and I shared this with my brother afterward. He then said something that shook me to the core. “Are they idiots, or are you just under-estimating yourself?” That’s one point for my brother. How often do you hold back what you’re thinking because you’re afraid someone will think it’s dumb, unoriginal, or not funny? The more successful, powerful people I meet the more I realize they are not smarter, more talented, or hard-working than the rest of us underlings. They just speak up. In middle school I was upset that I didn’t get a solo in chorus and I asked my teacher why she choose another girl instead of me. My teacher told me that I had a better voice, but that the other girl was louder. I probably would have gotten a lot further in life if I just learned that lesson back then.

And so, I am going to finish this post with a wonderful quote from Nancy Anderson. A sentiment that is guiding my entire HeSo project. “When you know exactly what you want and have the emotional strength to go after it, your mind and heart work together as you give your plan enough time to come into being.”