Monday, June 4, 2012

All It Takes Is a Little Push


ex·er·cise   [ek-ser-sahyz]  verb, ex·er·cised, ex·er·cis·ing.
1. bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health: Walking is good exercise.

Do I like exercise?  No.  Unequivocally, no.  Say the word "exercise" to me, and I cringe, my stomach rolls, and the fight or flight response takes over.  I'm not athletic, and trying to apply the word "graceful" to me would be comical, at best.  Don't take me wrong.  I love to dance.  But exercise?  Huh uh.  No way.

Exercising, which by the way I need, is one of those things that must be done repeatedly.  To be effective, it must become a habit.  Now, I can make habits, but there's a problem with that.  The habits I make are often bad ones, not good ones, and I'm not so good at breaking the bad.

Lately, things have begun to change.  Twenty-six months ago I quit smoking.  I'd tried once before, some twenty years before, but the quit only lasted a year and a half, and I was back at it again.  This time I have no desire to take up the habit again.  I guess that means I've finally broken the habit.  The addiction.  And I feel better.  Well, except for the pounds I've put on.  Again. Which was a big reason why I started up again the previous time.  I'm not letting that happen again.  Not in this lifetime.

And that's where motivation comes in.  For most of us, motivation is the key to doing just about anything.  Sometimes the motivation is the pure love of something, sometimes it's monetary or our health, and sometimes it's because we've pledged to do something, whether to someone else or to ourselves.  No matter what it is, we need that push to get rolling.

At our local annual art and book fair in May, I picked up The Vein of Gold, the follow up book to author Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  I always say there's a reason for everything. This time it became clear very quickly.  I've been working on one deadline or another since mid-February and was in dire need of a good creative kick in the pants.

"Walking," says Ms. Cameron, "is the most powerful creative tool I know."

Now why didn't I think of that?  Perhaps because the walking I'd been doing was with one or two or three family members and done sporadically.  And then those family members decided bike riding was more fun.  (Not in 40 mph Kansas winds, it isn't!)  She suggests walking 20 minutes a day during the week, and a one hour walk each week.  Because I enjoy walking and really, really need the exercise (see that word again?), I decided it was time to use this creative tool.

I'm here today to say that it has helped.  A lot.  A whole lot.  For the past two weeks, I've been getting up earlier than usual for my walks.  There's a park within walking distance of our house, but because g-kids start arriving for the day around 8:30 a.m., I drive to the park, still getting in 30 minutes of walking time, before I have to head home.  That 30 minutes nets me 2 miles of walking a day.  On weekends I walk to the park, walk my 2 miles, then walk home.  I haven't had a chance to do an official 60 minutes yet, but I've done a couple of unofficials.

What does this gain me?  For one thing, I've dropped 5 lbs.  While that's not a lot, it's a beginning.  I feel better.  My walks clear my mind and give me time to think about current writing projects or lately have sparked ideas for new ones.  Every day I come home from my walk, ready to hit the keyboard.  Or at least make notes for later in the day.

Yes, there are some mornings when I've stayed up too late and am tempted to stay in bed.  When that happens, I remind myself of what I gain from my walk, and force myself out of bed.  Once I'm up and moving, it isn't hard.

I'm motivated to walk, because my walks motivate me to write.  And there are two kinds of exercise involved:  Physical exercise and mental.
I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow. - Julie Cameron

1 comment:

Joanie said...

Amazing, lady! So glad you quit smoking, and you didn't stop there, either. You pack so much into this blog posting, I'm just totally impressed. And I think I need to get that Julia Cameron book, too. I have Artist's, but hadn't looked at the follow-up. Health going up, weight going down, word count going up...what a great deal! Did you know Janet Evanovich keeps her treadmill in her office next to her desk so that she has no excuse not to exercise? Now that I've read about how walking works for you, I realize that might be her secret weapon on being so prolific!