Get Set, Reset. And Get Moving.
Each one of us likely has a “superhuman” friend who straddles their high-powered career and stays incredibly fit with unquestionable ease — whose ability to work hard, work out hard, and play even harder leaves no room for sleep. Who probably doesn’t even need sleep! Let’s debunk that myth right away: no one is superhuman; no one has extra hours in a day; no one can do without sleep. What separates those who get moving from those who don’t is simply an understanding that exercise will energize them and enhance their performance in other aspects of life.
We all know the benefits exercise brings — a good night’s sleep, increased focus, discipline, and encouragement to live in the moment. It also boosts immunity and keeps lifestyle diseases at bay. Yet we can’t get ourselves moving. Why is that?
“Oh, I just can’t pull myself out of bed”
“I don’t have the time, the stamina, or the will to exercise.”
These are all excuses. The biggest hurdle is your mind. We either don’t prioritize movement or are too lazy, or both. Of course, some people have physical conditions that restrict their ability to exercise. But for many others, the pandemic has only worsened a pre-existing aversion to exercise. It has also exacerbated mental health problems like depression and dysania, which affect people’s ability to get out of bed at all, let alone work out. Exercise can significantly help overcome these problems.
But only if you can pull yourself out of bed.
I’m not saying the struggle is not real. There are times in the last two years when I found it difficult to keep up my daily practice of yoga and functional training. All you need to do is reset your mind. Tell yourself you need to get moving and that no one can do it for you. That’s the only superpower you need.
Break the inertia
When gyms were shut due to lockdowns, people with the intent to move improvised. Some switched to online yoga and bodyweight training, while others bought equipment — dumbbells, resistance bands, etc., to work out at home. Many people in my neighborhood picked up their running shoes or their bikes to escape the confines of their homes. Looking through my window, I saw them find different ways to stay active and this got me thinking: why wasn’t I exercising like them? What was stopping me?
It was inertia, plain and simple. And I decided to break it.
Even before the lockdowns hit, I sometimes suffered periods of inertia, spending days on end at my desk, commuting only between my bedroom and study. Thanks to the rigamarole of work, we find ourselves immobilized all too frequently, cross-legged and hunchbacked, in a freeze-frame with a computer, a pile of documents, and a surfeit of coffee cups.
I decided I had to get moving and the only way to do it was by pushing myself. I eased back into my yoga practice, waking up in wee hours of the day to ensure my busy calendar didn’t get in the way. I also switched to online functional training classes with my coach and, later, to in-person training in an open space, whenever safe and feasible. Soon, I was back in action. Recently, I bought a stationary bike, but I must admit I need to make better use of it.
Switch Up Your Routine
Once you’ve gotten into the flow of exercising regularly, it becomes second nature. To get moving in the first place is the real challenge. How do you “get set”?
I’ve realized that the best way of taking up any new activity is by changing my daily routine. When we disrupt the usual flow of things, we free ourselves from self-imposed constraints.
Take a step back and observe yourself and your routine from a distance to reassess your priorities. You will realize you haven’t been making enough time to wake up gently in the morning, compromising on your energy levels. You might notice you haven’t eaten enough for lunch, causing you to snack constantly. Or you’ve been drinking too much coffee and not enough water. Maybe you’ve spent too much time scrolling on your phones — time that could’ve been spent productively reading a book, calling a friend, or exercising.
The long and short of it? Switching up our daily routine and observing ourselves allows us to mindfully reconsider how we spend our time. As we unlearn what we thought we knew about time management, we find more spare time than we realized. It also helps us reach a level of detachment from the mental or physical limitations that previously prevented us from exercising.
You “get set” to get moving by thinking of yourself in the third person, getting out of character, and rewriting your narrative.
If I can do it, so can you.