The Enemy Within: Overcoming Procrastination With Exercise

Physical exercise is one thing many of us avoid. But what if I told you that making it a purposed part of you day would make the rest of your day better? What if doing that activity you avoid could actually lengthen your days and make the quality of them better too?

The Oxford Dictionary says that procrastination is to “delay or postpone action”. At the beginning of a new year we often reconsider doing the things we have been neglecting. What about in the middle of the year?

If you are like me, the absolute last thing you want to do in the heat of summer is exercise. Recently, I found myself on a beach not liking the selfies and on a boat unable to step in and out of it without assistance. I knew if I wanted to be better on either of those fronts, I needed to make a conscious effort to add strength training gym activity to my life. But how am I supposed to have time and money for that when the cost of everything–especially gas–is increasing but my wages aren’t?

I’m not a great swimmer, so I don’t trust myself in the depths of the ocean. Standing in the ebbing ocean waves, letting them push and pull my hips, my heart longed for more time in the water. I had a few hours over two days to dip into the salty sea, and I was saddened to leave it. Why? Because time away in peace and exercise is nourishing to the soul.

Health Benefits of Exercise

According to research on PubMed Central, exercise is important for mental and physical health.

Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Exercise is especially important in patients with schizophrenia…patients…who participated in a 3-month physical conditioning program showed improvements in weight control and reported increased fitness levels, exercise tolerance, reduced blood pressure levels, increased perceived energy levels, and increased upper body and hand grip strength levels. Thirty minutes of exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for 3 days a week, is sufficient for these health benefits. Moreover, these 30 minutes need not to be continuous; three 10-minute walks are believed to be as equally useful as one 30-minute walk.

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry8(2), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

Though some argue that time in exercise has to be consistently brisk for 15 minutes or more to be beneficial, I would argue that ANY amount of time is better than no time at all–especially if it creates a habit of doing so continually over time. Exercise is not about clicking a bell at 15/30/60 minutes or more; it is about establishing lifestyle changes that effectively change the quality of life you have for a lifetime.

Further research in the article confirms that exercise plays a role in making you sleep better, have a better sex drive, increased endurance, increased mental clarity, and so much more.

Just Do It!

It’s a Nike slogan but the point is still true; the only way to go from procrastination to living an active lifestyle is to just do it. It may start small and that is okay. Do whatever you can afford and maintain with consistency. Let it grow over time from there.

You have to find your motivator.

For me, I thought about what I wanted my life to look like over the next 10-20 years and the health I would need to do those things. I also think about people I know who struggle with health issues that could have been prevented if they were proactive when they were younger.

You have to let go of misperceptions.

I used to think that working out in a gym was for people who already had toned bodies and were trying to keep it so. That is SO not true! Most people are working out to overcome health issues in their lives that are both seen and unseen. One of my dear friends lives an active lifestyle and has the body to prove it, but she does so because of internal issues that would leave her nearly bedridden if she were not actively addressing those issues in the gym. Like there are suits for all sizes of swimmers, so there are gyms for all sizes of workers. Don’t feel intimidated by the person beside you who has more experience than you, and don’t look down on those who are fumbling on equipment trying to find their way. It doesn’t matter if you can press 15 or 80lbs. What matters is that you are doing it at all in the first place.

Develop Consistency

There are no end to negative thoughts and voices telling you to quit a good thing when you get started. You don’t overcome procrastination by ending the negatives; you overcome it by not listening. Establish a routine that you do consistently and keep it up for one week, one month, one year. The longer you do something, the easier it becomes to do it again.

Plan With Caution

If you have certain health risks, consult a physician and personal trainer before you take on any particular activity. Never attempt a new activity without proper training on equipment lest you hurt instead of build your muscles. If you have joint, back, or weight issues, consider joining workout classes in water that use Newton’s Law of Inertia to increase the intensity of your workout without harmful pressure from weight on your joints.

My Experience

My first week back at the gym was exciting. When I got in the pool, I felt like I found my tribe! It was a little unnerving working out in the gym around all these guys watching me pull small weights while they huffed through big ones. I almost didn’t go in one day, then I thought of how much better I would feel with the strength to walk beaches without losing my breath or climb stairs with strength in my knees to do so. I think about the things I will be able to do because I am caring for my body now–while I still have the options to control it. I think about the way my body will begin to reflect shaping from all my efforts and look better in the clothes I own. THAT makes the time and effort worth overcoming the obstacles.

I hope this inspires you to take a proactive role in your personal health.

Be blessed!

When Your World Falls Apart: What To Do When You Lose The Dream You Thought Came True

Another lifetime ago, I lived in Winston-Salem and worked with artists. I loved everything about my life: cool weather, historic places to explore, a beautiful townhome, lots of friends that gathered throughout the week, a creative job I loved, and volunteer service to help artists in the church and in the community.

I was living my best life–my best dream–till it all crashed to the floor.

I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. My finances ran thin, so I picked up part time work as a nanny. All the friends so eager to hang out before were now suddenly non-existent. The only thing I had left was my volunteer service, but I was quickly losing that too if I couldn’t afford my housing.

One night I was standing on the side of the road picking up dog poo from a client, and I had a light bulb moment. “What are you doing here?” I told myself. “You have a college education; why aren’t you using it?”

The dream I thought I had was gone, but I convinced myself that somehow it would all come back if I could just find a way to stay in Winston-Salem.

I decided to take on a roommate–first in over four years since college–to help out. I thought everything was going well and things were starting to look up. Then I overheard her on the phone looking for a new place to rent without telling me she wanted to leave. I was devastated and angry, so I acted quickly to take charge. I put in my notice with the leasing office, packed up my belongings, and moved home.

The Lie I Believed For A Decade

A lot of anger got packed up with me when I left that place. I didn’t understand how God could let me live the dream and then lose it.

I let the anger box away every good memory from that time in my life and tell me I would never again live a happy or fulfilled life.

I allowed myself to believe I never heard from God in Winston-Salem, and, maybe, I never heard God at all. For a decade thereafter, I lived in a cloud of sorrow and regret believing my best years were behind me. But God…

Hindsight is 20-20: Discovering My Tribe

Looking back now, I see things differently. The more I had tried to stay in Winston-Salem, the more I needed to go. My roommate was just the final straw in a long list of circumstances pushing me to leave. Sure, God could have opened doors of prosperity and protection to keep my dream going in Winston-Salem. If He had done that, however, it wouldn’t have been the full dream He had for me.

What I really had in Winston-Salem was a glimpse of my purpose and calling and clarification of who my tribe is.

Every Christian has a unique tribe or group of people they can talk to about faith and life without inhibitions. You have a specific set of skills that resonate with them, and they will listen to you in ways they won’t listen to otbers.

For me, that group is artists. While I loved my work with artists in Winston-Salem, I was meant to meet and work with more artists than just the ones in that location. I couldn’t have known that without leaving it.

Find Peace With It and Stay The Course

I had a choice to stay angry and distanced from God or forgive the past and move on. I chose the latter. Doing so opened doors for me to begin to heal from that pain and even see the beauty in it.

Understanding doesn’t come quick or easy, but one thing I did come to understand was that my best years were not behind me in Winston-Salem. A lot of good came from leaving, and a much bigger purpose for my life started happening after I came home.

Once you make up your mind to move forward after pain, you have to be determined to stick to it and not pick up that old grudge.

Allow God to give you new experiences. Put Him first and pursue the vision He gives you for your life. When you do that, you don’t have to go looking for ways to use your talent or feel fulfilled. God will put you in the path you need to go and lead you to ministry in unexpected ways.

Enjoy the journey!