Hey Sarah! Recently I have been trying to get in much better shape and I was trying to do something similar to what you're doing of a 100 days but I wanted to ask you how do you stay motivated to get out and do something after a long day? Thanks!
I knew that I could whip off an answer, but this question became an invitation to explore and write about some thoughts I have been having around this very issue.
My 100 Day Commitment to Exercise has become a sacred container that holds and supports me to be my word and my commitment, by giving to myself through daily acts of self-love through exercise. This container has lifted me out of my "normal" daily living and has given me a context and a focus for my day that I didn't have in this way before. I now wake up in the morning and one of my first thoughts is, "I wonder how and when I will exercise today?" This gives me a structure to my day that then supports my whole day to unfold, be lived from and expressed from a committed, purposeful and self-loving place.
I wonder how that may contribute to a life well lived!
First a little background:
On January 12th, 10 weeks ago today, I was on Facebook and came across a post about a 350+ pound woman who wanted to lose weight and get in better shape, and so chose to take on a 100 Day Challenge to exercise every day. I was reading her story and watching a video, when I thought to myself, "well, if she can do that, I certainly can too." As I had this thought, I also experienced an intuitive knowing that I was to take this on, for real. It was like an instant download with the whole idea coming to me in a split second. I immediately knew what and how I needed to do it. I still went to the the 100daychallenge website, and while I so appreciated what they were doing and the support they offered, it was clear that I didn't want to sign up with them.
My accountability would be a daily post on Facebook, and that to "count" as exercise for the day that it would have to be something that was not walking. Oh, I could still walk, but it wouldn't fulfill my commitment to exercise every day for 100 days. Walking is easy for me, I love walking, I will always walk (as long as I am able) and even if I miss a few days, or even weeks, I will always come back to walking. It is in my bones.
This is not so true with stretching, strengthening, yoga, Pilates, dance - anything that would have me connect to my core, abdominal muscles. I have avoided all forms of these exercises as much as possible. And so of course, this was an essential condition to fulfill my 100 Day Challenge - I had to do exercises/exercising that I typically would avoid.
In this moment of the instant download, I felt excited, nervous, clear and committed. I also knew that it was exactly what I needed to take on - for all the obvious reasons, but I was also aware that there were many reason beyond what I was aware of.
To back up a few weeks, I had received and taken on a year long, one word intention - EMBODIMENT - as my new year theme. I knew that 2014 would be the year of embodiment for me. I had no idea what or how it would look like. And here it was, showing up in my 100 Day Commitment to move my body every day.
I spent the rest of that Sunday afternoon allowing the reality of what I had committed to to permeate my being. I went to the local recreation center website, I looked at the drop-in class schedule (I resist going to classes like these). I looked at private clubs and businesses that offered specific forms of exercise - Pilates, Cross Training.
Immediately, all of my resistance and shame came up. I hate going to gyms. I hated all of what I was on the verge of taking on. Doing "exercise" like this immediately brings up shame for me - and self-judgment, beating myself up for being weak, imbalanced, unable to do things that everyone else can do easily, uncoordinated, stupid. If I did go to a yoga class, or whatever, I would spend the whole time comparing myself to others, and beat myself up for not being able to do this, or being weak and pathetic. I'd leave the class feeling so much worse about myself, and usually would not go back. If I did go back, it would only be from sheer will for at most another one or two classes.
I have spent most of my nearly 55 years AVOIDing my body and exercising. I have experienced such deep pain, shame, blame, and hate when I move my body that it's been easier to just avoid it. Much easier just to walk. The crazy part of this avoid-dance is that the shame and self-blame were all still there within me, but just below the surface where I wouldn't have to be aware of them every moment.
I knew that this shame had stopped me so many times and that it would hijack this 100 Day commitment if I let it, so I gave myself full permission to move slowly, and to find ways to exercise that would support me to fulfill my commitment to exercise for 100 days. I knew that I couldn't go to a yoga class full of younger yogini-types, or even a Pilates class, where I would get "blown out" and never return. So I chose to start at two different classes at the rec center - one a "Fitness for Life" class and the other was a swim/fitness class. These are fitness classes for "older" people. I am the youngest person in the Fitness for Life class. The swim class I am no longer doing - I really didn't like getting wet in a pool of cool water when I could look outside and see snow! I also had a wonderful DVD's series at home that I had never used - Fitness for the 50 Plus Body for Aerobics, Flexibility and Strengthening. These DVD's have been such a resource for me to exercise at home.
I honestly felt that this 100 Day Commitment created a container that has been holding me and providing me with some amazing and unexpected support.
The instructor for both classes at the Rec Center was the same person, Jennifer. I call Jennifer my "Exercise Angel." She is the most lovely, experienced fitness instructor I have even taken class with. She teaches with such ease that you can feel her 30 years of experience and knowledge in every exercise she has us do. She is seamless in her teaching, gentle in her approach and totally accepting of every one in her classes. She is also the embodiment of being fit, trim, and toned at 60 years old without being hard, or coming off as a hard-core, non-accepting person. Jennifer warmly welcomed me as I walked in for my firs class and asked if there was anything she should be aware of about my body.
I immediately shared with her about the "split" down my abdominus recti muscles, which she immediately said that she had experienced that too. This split has been my excuse, my challenge, the grist for my mill, my opportunity for healing on every level of my being. It has also been the cause for my inability and unwillingness to exercise, and the physical reason for my feeling so weak, powerless and ineffective when it comes to exericse and moving my body. Over the years, I have become a master at compensating for the split, and using my hips, back, shoulders, neck - basically, any muscles but my abdominals to move my body, but I could never get strong, or toned. My belly was always still soft, jelly-like, weak and unsupportive.
I have laughed that I even got fired from a Pilates instructor because I couldn't do what she was asking me to do. Truth be told, I was her client to support her certification process and I wasn't able to do the exercises that she had to do for her certification. I actually needed something more basic than what she could offer in those sessions. I knew this, but this scenario still fueled my whole story of being too weak to exercise.
Back to Jennifer. Her demeanor, welcoming me so warmly, and her asking about and being aware of the "split" and working so easily with me, even in a class full of people, created an invitation for me to keep returning to the class. I got to do exercises in a room of 60 to 80 year olds, who were showing up for this class in spite of knee issues, hip surgeries, shoulder challengs. If they could show up, so could I. Also, I knew deep within me that I want to be moving when I am "older". Guess what? I am becoming "older" now, and knew that I had better get in the game, or else I would really become an older person and not be able to move.
I have learned that I am easily intimidated when it comes to my body and moving it in any way. Ok, the truth is that I am easily intimidated by anything or anyone I perceive as doing/being it better than me. I compare and contrast myself in many situations, and most especially when it comes to my body. I am also aware that being intimidated is one of my excuses for avoiding and no longer participating or engaging in something or with someone. If I feel any level of intimidation, I back out, go away and avoid at all costs. That has been my game plan. The problem is that the costs include me not living my life to the fullest or even being able to fulfill my purpose for being here. The costs have gotten too huge.
So, I made a commitment to be gentle with myself, to allow myself to not have to do every exercise at maximum capacity. To show up. To listen to and receive Jennifer's coaching and guidance. To focus on bringing my core muscles into every movement, even if I didn't know how, or didn't think I could. To be aware of when I feel intimidated, notice it, and to stay engaged. For 100 days, anyway.
And here I am, 10 weeks later, doing exercises that I couldn't do 10 weeks ago, and that Jennifer wouldn't even ask me to do. I love this class and I love the people in it. I may be the youngest person in the class, but I am learning "fitness for life." Also, what has started to happen over the past week or so, is that Jennifer is adapting exercises for me, and having me do more or differently from the others. And, as a result, I am experiencing a competency and strength that is new for me. I am blossoming in this class, and every day am aware of being able to do something that I couldn't before!
All because I have been willing to show up EVERY day and exercise.
Even when it's 11:30 at night and I still have to exercise that day. Even when I'm tired. So, here's back up to the original question. How do you stay motivated to get out and do something after a long day?
I stay motivated because I made a 100 Day Commitment to myself - no matter what. If I can do anything for 100 days, then I can do anything. I can be anything. And I made this commitment because of something within me. It may have been inspired from something outside of me, but the commitment and decision came from INSIDE of me. It wasn't a "should" or something that would be good for me to do, or "that sounds like a good idea." It was a knowing and alignment that came from deep within me that this was mine to take on, fully. It wasn't like "Ok, now I have this theme for 2014 called Embodiment. Perhaps I should exercise every day...I know, I should do it for 100 days. That sounds like a good idea."
It was more like this.
I have chosen and committed to EMBODIMENT for my theme of 2014. Ok, I wonder how that may show up in my life. I am curious about what it feels like to be embodied. I am curious about how I can step into embodiment. What does my body want to become embodied? What would serve embodiment?
Or it could be that you have a commitment to be HFTTFS - Healthy, Fit, Trim, Toned, Flexible & Strong!
What would it look like to be HFTTFS? What would be the most fun, best ways for me to be HFTTFS?
- Get clear on your commitment - from the inside out. No shoulds. No have to's. Feel into what you and your body want. What aligns with you, your purpose, your desires?
- Commit to it. Make a decision.
- Be clear about what exactly the commitment is...how long, what actions you need to take. It may be more about the process than the product.
- Ask questions about how to fulfill this commitment. Receive the answers.*
- Listen to the ideas. Write down a List of 25 ways. Or even 100 Ways to....
- Be open to your intuition giving you very clear and specific ways to step into this. It may not seem like it has anything to do with your commitment. Trust it anyway.
- Do it! And if you slip up and forget to do it, then do it again anyway!
- Create a system of accountability, with a friend or group, on Facebook, whatever works for you.
- Create a plan for celebration when you complete and fulfill your commitment
Allow yourself to become very clear on who you are, what you truly desire, and what you're up to in this life.
*Ask questions! Ask lots and lots of questions! Ask questions that invite an opening up to what can totally support and expand you. Don't answer the questions from what you already know. ALLOW the answers to come to you.
Here are some great questions:
What do I really want?
What moves me with excitement and possibility?
How does my body love to me? What brings it joy?
What is my body asking for?
What would serve me to live my greatest life? How can my body support this?
What will it take for my body to be fully engaged?
What will it take for my body to feel healthy, alive, fit, trim, toned, flexible and strong?
What would my life, my body, Me look like, feel like, be like when I fulfill my commitment?
Dream into this, expand into this...allow this to infuse and inform your daily actions.
What is the best way to hold myself accountable?
These are just some suggestions, but a few to get you started. And when you receive the answers, play with them. Trust them. Try them on for size. And when one comes along and you just know that is exactly what you need to do, from the inside out with every cell of your being, even or especially when it seems a little crazy and you feel butterflies at the thought of it, commit to it with 100% of your being, and DO it, BE it and LOVE it! Hold yourself accountable in a fun, supportive way.
And do it because you gave your word. It's not about the outcome. It's about showing up for yourself, as yourself. You are the one who chose to do this, and said you would do it. No one else. No one made you do it. So love and honor yourself by being your word. To yourself. To your body. To your life.
And love who you become in the process! You will not be the same person who started out. You will also not be who you thought you would become. You will be even more, even better. Even mo' betta!!!
If you would like any support and guidance, please feel free to post a comment or contact me directly!