Monday, July 19, 2010

Mind Over Body

I was holding back hoping someone else would post here because I don't want to be the annoying kid in class or staff member in a meeting who never shuts up! At the risk of being that person, I will write anyway since there is so much to say about exercise and motivation that I just can't "shut up."

I must tell you that up until a few weeks ago I was really struggling to get back into working out. I had gotten sick right after school ended and completely lost my energy and "will" to start again. During the school year my efforts were not consistent, for many reasons I will call "excuses" and I knew the summer would be a great time to get back into the routine of exercising at least 3-4 times per week. What I didn't realize was how hard it would be to begin, again. 

When I ran along the beautiful cliff here about a month ago my lungs burned after a few minutes. No,  I don't smoke! I was just way more out of shape than I cared to admit. I began building up my stamina by alternating running with walking and challenged myself to take hills on instead of avoiding them. I began to realize that much of my issue was not my body but my mind. My mind?

My mind is the one who says, "It's okay, you can stop now." My mind is the "excuse maker" the "boredom shouter" and the powerful part of myself  I can use in my favor, especially when I get it involved in the pursuit of my exercise goals. I have recently alternated elliptical workouts with walking/running. When I am on the elliptical, an older, squeaky version that isn't the greatest but does the job, I listen to inspiring talks, often those from TED with my wireless headset. I find that when my mind is engaged in learning, it is less likely to sabotage my body's efforts. When I run/walk I listen to music and have also begun carrying a camera, in case I see something that inspires me. Both the music and the artistic fun and curiosity fuel me forward making me less apt to stop from boredom.

So, the next time you are off to exercise, think about how you will engage your mind. And please share how you occupy your mind to keep your body moving toward its goal of health.


  1. Thanks for sharing. As I begin (yet again) to get back into better habits, I like to hear that I'm not the only one pushing myself. For me, it's the days over 90 degrees and humidity factor. But still, I have made a push. One day a bike ride, another day in the someones pool.
    On another note, I love the idea of a camera. My husband has been struggling himself with running every other day. I think introducing a camera to his runs will be a nice diversion and it only takes a few seconds to capture something worth sharing with others.
    Thanks for sharing Joan.

  2. Focusing on my breathing keeps me from quitting. The camera
    idea works well, too. Even if we don't have an actual camera, we can "click"-- capture a moment-- and reconnect with nature or a human-made structure that inspires us! The breath keeps us connected to what's out
    there, too.

  3. I don't mind that you keep writing Joan! I like it, in fact. You are so right about engaging my mind. I tried music, since that is what most people say helps them through their workout, but it didn't work for me. The best thing for me has been a workout buddy, but that isn't always consistent or available. So, I turned to books on my iPod. This engages my mind in a way that I can forget that I am exercising... It has made a world of difference for me!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to comment :-) Yes, breathing and taking mental pictures, savoring the scenery help too! And varying the activities like you mention, Gail, really helps. Last week I rented a kayak for an hour with my son and it was so much fun I didn't even realize I was exercising. Thanks again for sharing ideas!

  5. Thanks Jamie ( @fiteach)! I think we were posting comments at the same time. I love the idea of listening to books while working out. I did that awhile back but sort of forgot how much I enjoyed it. It is hard to find consistent workout partners and sometimes can be an excuse to skip a day, and then another. I appreciate your comments so much :-)

  6. Joan,
    You're never that annoying kid! I enjoy all of your posts and your sharing. I'm glad that you've found it easier, and more enjoyable, to get those workouts in.

    Keep up the good workouts and the posts!

  7. This is great! I am new to this blog and I love it.

    I love this post and can very much relate to this mind issue. Each morning, I have to talk my mind into allowing me to get up and exercise, knowing that if I wait even 10 more minutes, my chance to workout is gone. And too often my mind wins out.

    This reminds me of the part in Eat, Pray, Love when Elizabeth Gilbert is in India studying yoga and she needs to put her mind in a place that will allow her body to meditate. She puts it in a place of love. I'm still working on where to put mine.

    I really like your ideas of engaging your mind in learning and bringing a camera along to make your runs and artistic adventure.

    Thanks again for a great post. I look forward to visiting often and reading more each day!

  8. Thanks so much Elizabeth :-) I just saw your comment; sorry for the delayed reaction! I love that book and glad you mentioned it.
    I am glad you are with us here in this #temt adventure. It's been wonderful to give each other an added push and a refreshing outlook on taking care of ourselves!