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!

Mindset Medicine: Overcoming Obstacles Through Journaling

Recently internationally best-selling author, Mari L. McCarthy, sent me a copy of her new book, Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book. In the book, the author shares 14 writing prompts and ways to heal from mental, emotional, and physical trauma through journaling. I accepted the book to write a book review, but I picked it up to read it at a time when I desperately needed it.

Mari’s book came to me at a time when the absolute last thing I thought I needed to learn about was disciplined writing. When I opened it to the introduction, it read like Mari was talking directly to me.

If you’ve slowly developed a feeling that big tech, mass media, and our cultural and government institutions are doing everything they can to brainwash you, you should pay attention to this feeling. You should pay attention to it and trust it, because it’s your intuition feeding you the truth. Make no doubt about it, your heart and soul are under siege by societal forces that don’t have your best interests in mind….These forces want to separate you from YOU….view this book as an invitation to journey inward and deprogram what you’ve been conditioned to believe you should be.

Mari L. McCarthy

The Mission

The book is about helping you reclaim your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Pulling from her personal experience overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through journaling, Mari leads readers to overcome their own greatest challenges through focused introspection. She doesn’t just lean on her own experiences either. Ms. McCarthy cites examples of other published medical studies that saw real change as a result of writing. Fourteen short chapters teach readers to apply the technique of writing to self-heal.

The Challenge

The first chapter really got me thinking about something. In my circles, I have seen a lot of harm come from social media. Friends pose pictures of themselves in their best lives, outfits, and moments. All the perfection makes you feel like you are missing out on the way life is supposed to be.

Then random strangers message you “hey beautiful” trying to get at your heart. If you are curious and lonely, you say “hi” back and open a door. If you are smart, you ignore them.

The question I find myself asking is why social media even wastes our time if it hurts our hearts so much. This idea is part of what I wrote about in response to the first prompt from the book below:

If you could really change the world, what would you want to change about it? Consider getting your own copy of Mari L. McCarthy’s Mindset Medicine and join the revolution of changing the world through writing.

Mindset Medicine book cover

About the Author

Author holding some of her books

Mari L. McCarthy, Founder and CEO – Chief Empowerment Officer  of CreateWriteNow.com, teaches curious health-conscious action-takers how to use Journaling For The Health Of It®️ to heal the emotional, creative, physical, and spiritual issues in their tissues. She also shows them how to use this powerful personal transformation tool to know, grow and share their True Self. Mari is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live, Heal Your Self With Journaling Power and Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book. She’s also created 20+ Journaling For The Health Of It® Self-Management 101 Workbooks including Who Am I?, Take Control Of Your Health! and Start Journaling For The Health Of It® Write Now.

Find out more about Mari by visiting her website CreateWriteNow.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.

Something Extra

For more from Mari including a look at her venture into music, join us Monday for a visit to the Bohemian Princess Podcast.

The Importance of Investing Time In Yourself

Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

I remember the fear of the crash, the falls, and the subsequent visits like it was yesterday. While I did not have an injury that required surgery, I discovered I had degenerative disc disease. My whole life had to change to learn how to manage it better.

For a season, my life cycled around physical therapy, work, and home. I was afraid to drive for a while because other cars felt like a threat. Slowly my walking improved and my scars became less visible. I learned to listen to my body and invest in myself.

Invest Time In Yourself

Investing in yourself is one of the most important parts of emotional and mental health, but everything about life tries to keep you from doing it. Self-investment involves spending time with people, places, and activities that feed joy and positivity into your life. It also involves alone time doing things you enjoy and reading the Bible. These are the activities that fill our hearts and empower us to press on through this life. It takes conscious effort to invest in yourself.

Some people go through life taking all they can get along the way. Others spend their lives serving and forget even what it looks like to have fun. Sometimes takers need to be humbled to serve, and sometimes servers need to learn how to take. If you don’t take the time to self-care, you won’t be able to be there physically for others.

What can you do today to pour value into yourself?

Would an extra-long soak in the bath or painting your nails or wearing that new dress to work make you feel beautiful? How about a trip to the beach or a drive to the mountains?

Guarding your heart is not just about being careful about who you love or what you expose yourself to, it is also about giving your heart love in the language that speaks to it–your own personal love language.

Take some time to invest in yourself today.

The Forgotten Field in Morganton, NC

2014-04-25 12.10.50In a little corner of the mountains of western Carolina, lies a field of the forgotten. These were once mothers, daughters, sisters, and sons. They were somebody’s friend, somebody’s family member, somebody’s…somebody. Today, they are just numbers along a rusted chain. Tags along a line that are nearly completely faded into history. Once in a while, a stone leaves a more lasting impression. This stone, in particular, broke me. Beneath the words of names and dates, it remembers the person as an artist.

Here lies an artist.

It has not always been cool, especially in the place this stone lies, to be an artist. Cast down, abused, medicated, they were often treated like the rejects of society because they saw the world a little differently. When I see this stone, I think about how many things have changed and how many things have stayed the same.

This final resting place is part of a much older and sadder story.

Mountain people are particularly gifted in textile trades. Wood carvings, furniture making, basket weaving, and loom tapestry weaving were marketable skills passed down amongst them for generations. In the early 1900s, western North Carolina was a booming place for furniture and upholstery. The generations of talent in making housewares by hand now turned to factories and annual market sales. The trade continues to thrive for generations there and bring in buyers from around the world.

But one other thing set up roots in Morganton, NC: Broughton Hospital. In the early days of mental health, a series of brick buildings connected into a beautiful castle. It was one of the largest hospitals for the mentally ill and people were sent there from all over. I imagine people were amazed by the beauty of the place and left their loved ones there easily. But not everything that happened in mental health medicine at that time was good, kind, or ethical. In fact, it was quite common for families to be so embarrassed by mentally ill family members that they would either hide them away in “disappointment rooms” in their homes or send them to places like this.

Over time, parts of the hospital closed down, and only a small section of it remains in use today. The old castle bits have wasted away almost completely. All that remains are a few condemned buildings across from the forgotten field like this one. 2014-04-25 12.14.59 Windows broken by ivy vines and basement boiler rooms full of shoes and old tin cans are the only signs of life here now.

2014-04-25 12.20.03

I wonder what stories this place could tell.

What lessons would we learn from their mistakes? What acts of kindness would warm our hearts and inspire us? What horrors would make us sleepless at night?

We can learn from the past–and I hope we all do–to be better people today. Enjoy your life and strive to understand the people in your world, especially family. Forgive them, love them, and make the most of your time with them.