Keeping it up

Doing it once doesn’t make it easy.

It usually doesn’t get us where we want to go either.

Most diets fail because they are — by definition — short-term.

It’s one thing to throw three balls in the air and another thing keeping them up. One is playing. The other is juggling.

Our bodies are wonderful machines that can take a real pounding, as long as it isn’t over and over again. The same goes for our minds. 

Willpower doesn’t just grow on trees.

That’s why settling for the smallest step, the thing we know we can actually do every day for decades, is so much more powerful than any crash course, extreme diet, six-month shred, or late-night sprint. 

Don’t do twenty pull-ups one day and none the next. Do five every day until you can do them with one arm.

A little more patience gets us a lot further in the end. 

 

Rhythm of the Feet

It’s funny how things we hate often become part of our personality.

For better or worse.

Running, or anything faster than a brisk walk, was never very appealing; the last resort to catch a train.

It didn’t seem very dignified, especially how I was doing it. I didn’t go very far or fast and did get very sweaty, which was embarrassing. But over the last six years, running has become part of my life.

Starting a run is never easy. But something magical happens about a mile in, when your body has finally accepted that you’re not going to stop.

Rhythm.

The rhythm of your heart pounding gently and the sigh of your lungs sucking long, deep bagfuls of air; arms swinging almost of their own accord, all to the gentle metronome of your feet hitting the ground.

Everything becomes part of that movement, that directed dance.

Head up, putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again just to go where we want a little faster. And by sheer force of will, doing it longer than any other animal on the planet.

Nothing could be more human than that.

 

Ten a day

A friend of mine recently went on a bit of a health kick.

She started running and being mindful of her diet and all the other things we know we should be doing to be healthier.

The one that most interested me was this: every morning, she would get up and do ten push-ups. Then, a little before bedtime, she would do another ten.

It didn’t seem like much. But then my girlfriend started doing ten push-ups every morning, and of course, that meant it wasn’t long before I started doing them too.

Quite often, your ten little push-ups every day are helping someone else get stronger too. Even the smallest acts can carry great inspiration within them.

Ten push-ups aren’t much barely anything  but they add up over time to something great.

That’s kaizen in a nutshell.

 

Achy Legs

Life is full of fantastic sensations — many of them in the bedroom.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sliding between soft, clean sheets after a long day walking around town or playing in the woods or climbing up mountains.

Tired but happy. Feet gently throbbing. With achy legs and a big smile.

What better envelope is there to seal a day well done?

 

Go for a walk

If you haven’t already, today is a great day to go for a walk.

Mum would often suggest going for a walk, usually about mid-afternoon on a Saturday, after six hours glued to the screen up to my elbows in cereal.

I, cruelly deprived of television, found this the most outrageous proposition I’d ever heard.

A lively debate about the health benefits of walking would ensue.

Several bouts of growling, groaning, and some light wrestling later, we’d burst out of my Grandmother’s little terrace and descend on the cascading, bloom-laden banks of the Thames.

And before we’d reach the water’s edge, the morning’s gloom would be all but forgotten.

 

Recovery run

Training for a marathon is very different from what people expect.

The biggest surprise for most people is that you only run a marathon once — on race day.

The next surprise is how little running you do. 15 minutes one day.  Thirty minutes a few days later. Some days are short bodyweight workouts. And some days are dedicated to lying on the floor and stretching.

We don’t have to run a marathon every day to get where we want to go. We shouldn’t even run every day.

Time spent rolling around on the floor and stretching is as crucial to running a race as putting one foot in front of the other.

Recovery allows us to keep working towards our goal, even on days we can’t think straight, let alone move fast. And that little bit of extra time we spend quickly adds up. 

Allow yourself a little recovery time now and then, and you’ll go much further in the long run.

 

 

Stretch it

A simple stretch can give you a big boost on stiff days, even when it seems like a stretch to get out of bed at all.

Stretching releases a flood of endorphins, reduces stress, gets the blood flowing, and could help reduce menstrual pain.

It’s a quick win on any day. And you can do it while you’re still in bed.

Stretch your arms up high. Wiggle those toes way down.

Take a big breath, give it back.

And off we goooooo!

 

 

Fat people try harder

Exercising will teach you a lot about life and even more about yourself as a person.

When a close friend first dragged my lazy ass to the gym, I was incredibly unfit and doughy and unconfident. And to top it all, I was embarrassed about all those things.

I was scared that people would point at me and laugh as I chafed myself into a puddle, plodding along on the treadmill at a snail’s pace. Or worse — they would pity me lifting these tiny little weights.

The way that I did them.

I would watch that obese guy walking on the treadmill and think, “Give up fatso — you’re not even trying.”

But he was trying a lot harder than me. And deep down, I knew it. 

The problem was me — it was how I looked at people. They were making an effort to improve themselves and I was standing there being a snide little prick because of my insecurities.

I wasn’t mocking them. I was mocking me.

Exercise taught me that the people doing the most criticism are almost always the people who are doing the least to change.

Maybe it’s because they haven’t found their light, their way to improve the world and themselves, and they deeply wish they had. Or maybe because it hurts to watch someone winning when you’re losing or lost and don’t know how to turn it around.

Exercise taught me that it’s a lot easier to mock someone else for trying than making an effort yourself.

Exercise taught me that change is hard, but it’s almost impossible when you hate yourself and believe the world is against you. 

And exercise taught me that I’d rather be the fat fucker plodding away with everyone laughing than the skinny fucker sitting around doing nothing but criticizing.

Now whenever I catch the eye of an obese person trying to turn their life around, trudging along on a treadmill, scared and self-consciously sweating buckets, I give them a nod and a smile so they know I’m rooting for them.

Because now I know how hard it is to climb that mountain.

And how brave they are for trying.