Happiness is something everybody strives for in their lives, but few people find a lasting strategy to attain it. Happiness certainly isn’t something that comes from wishing you had it, or from someone else, or from thinking positive thoughts. But there is one thing that almost every happy person has in common… exercise.
Happiness from exercise goes beyond just endorphins. Of course you feel amazing after a workout. But when I look around the Empower studio and see the smiling faces, the people laughing and being fully present in their lives, I understand first-hand how exercise changes your DNA. When you feel confident in your body, when you honor your spirit by taking care of yourself, you have the desire and ability to live life on a deeper, more intimate level. You take appropriate risks and they pay off with higher self esteem. You connect with others. You get outside more. It’s almost like a snowball effect, set into motion by something as simple as moving your body often.
So if there was a happiness pill, would you take it? People who exercise do… all the time!
I heard a great quote the other day, which you already know if you read the title to this blog. “Love is spelled T-I-M-E.” For you literal types yelling “uhn-uhhh!” hang with me here.
It’s obvious that we express love for our spouses, for our children, or for anyone by spending time with them. It’s tough to make the argument that you really love someone who you can’t seem to make any time for them (although I’ve seen too many absentee parents do just that!) “Quality time” (vs. quantity time) is a crock as well. It is nothing more than a Band Aid people use to cover a gushing wound of neglect. “Quality time” never stops the bleeding.
But what does this have to do with fitness? Love is spelled T-I-M-E in your life too. You can’t cultivate a healthy self-love, or self-respect, without allowing some time for yourself. If you’re always putting everyone else’s needs and desires ahead of yours, so that you don’t have time to take care of yourself through exercise, sleep, and pleasurable time, then you are subconsciously sending the message that you aren’t worth your time. Your body reads that message loud and clear.
I cringe when people tell me that they don’t have time to exercise. I wonder how they could express such anti-love for themselves. Of course they have time. It’s just a matter of how each person chooses to apply their 24 hours a day. It’s about priorities.
Spending too much time at work to exercise? Find a better job or learn to use your work time more efficiently. Commuting more than one hour a day? Move closer to work. Too involved with your children’s activities? Decide that you deserve a life too and cut back on their busy-ness. They’ll probably thank you!
When you become a priority in your own life, you’ll find that elusive T-I-M-E… and a self-L-O-V-E like you’ve never known will be set free!
It’s understandable to be soured on New Year’s Resolutions after years of steadfastly vowing to change your life on Jan. 1, only to be back in the saddle of old habits by Feb. 1. We’ve all been there. There isn’t anybody who hasn’t made at least one resolution that never came to fruition.
But that doesn’t mean you quit. Every success comes on the heels of multiple failures. You must do it wrong before you do it right. The only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is at what point they give up. You can either keep trying – correcting course along the way – or you can quit all together.
I encourage you, as I do with all my clients, to set goals or resolutions for the New Year. This is the perfect opportunity to take a fresh look at your life and see what is working and what isn’t. Make your goals as simple as deciding to leave behind what doesn’t work – permanently – and adding more of what does work. Add a big dollop of commitment — you will do this no matter what (don’t leave room in your mind for an out) — and set a plan. Goals without a plan and firm commitment are nothing more than dreams. Most importantly, enlist help. The one thing that dooms more resolutions to failure is going it alone. Make your commitment public and get some people – whether they are friends or, better yet, hired help – on your side. Teams always do better than individuals.
Mostly though, try again. Set your New Year’s Resolution for 2011. Believe in it with all your might. Do better, be smarter, this time.
Don’t ever give up on yourself.
The coolest thing about owning a personal training studio is the depth at which the Empower trainers and I get to witness and be a part of the massive transformation that occurs daily in our clients’ lives. It often seems like magic – the physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that can make a person almost unrecognizable from their former self just a few months later.
But it isn’t magic. In fact, there is a formula that I have noticed that is consistent in everyone who makes real change. That formula is reproducible – it can be repeated by anyone who wants to duplicate their success.
For those who seek real improvement, whether it’s in your health, your career, your family, or your finances, the following six steps will deliver you to success beyond your wildest dreams.
- Quit taking short cuts. Desperate people look for quick fixes and desperate people rarely succeed at anything. Radical diets, get-rich-quick schemes, a speedy rebound relationships ultimately only make the desperate person fatter, more broke, more lonely… and even more desperate.
- Respect your body. Your body is a temple, the ultimate gift from God. When you disrespect your body – by overindulging in food or alcohol, fasting or severally reducing calories, taking dangerous drugs to lose weight, living life from the couch when your body craves movement, choosing prescriptions to treat symptoms rather than lifestyle changes that can bring a cure, chronically under-sleeping, etc. – you are not only disrespecting God’s greatest gift to you, you are also disrespecting yourself. You cannot succeed long-term at anything with a pervasive disrespect for yourself.
- Learn to say “no.” Define your life’s priorities and say “no” to every request that isn’t congruent with those priorities. Successful people say “yes” only to things that align with their priorities and readily say “no” to well-meaning others who might highjack their time to fulfill different priorities. Our most successful clients easily say “no” to anything that might interfere with their workouts. And soon, when others learn that time is sacred, they quit asking.
- Invest your money in things that reflect your priorities. I’m always amazed by the people who say they want to be healthy yet won’t put any money toward their health. They drive nice cars, have big screen TVs and expensive satellite service, but won’t invest a penny on caring for themselves if it’s not covered by insurance or Medicare, even while they’re suffering with diabetes or another lifestyle disease! Compare that with the thin, healthy, strong, vibrant client of ours, in her late 40s, who took a second job mowing lawns so that she could keep working with her trainer – because it is that important in her life. (By the way, she’s pretty successful in the other areas of her life, too!)
- Build a Success Team. Very rarely do people succeed in isolation. Most often, it is a result of several people working toward one goal. Seek out the help you need to get you where you want to go. Enlist the help of experts – the best personal trainers, financial planners, etc. – or find a group of likeminded individuals who will hold you accountable and provide the structure you need to succeed. Most people are their own worst enemy when it comes to making excuses or copping out – so why would you want yourself as your only teammate?
- Live in the moment. Become present in everything you do. When you live consciously, you are in tune with your body and in tune with your spirit. Becoming present is as easy as saying in your head, “I am here, now.” Feel the oxygen filling your lungs. Notice how your belly feels. Listen to sounds around you. Remember that regret lives in the past, fear lives in the future. Peace is only found in the present.