I have learned and relearned a number of positive things since I began working out with a trainer in August. In my post “5 Truths I’ve Learned from Working Out” on October 23rd, lesson #5 was that I need to treat my writing like I treat the gym, but I didn’t give specific details on how to do that beyond committing to doing it.
In today’s morning writing, I thought about my trainer repeatedly telling me that he likes the way I work, that I’m motivated. He tells me that every time he tells me how many reps to do and I try for the higher number – every time. I think he’s saying that he likes that I’m always willing to give it a try before I decide that I can’t do it.
I began to wonder: What else about my attitude on going to the gym has been helpful?
Then I realized that I could take these principles and applied them to my creative life, too. I’ve long struggled with pursuing my heart’s desires, using logic to talk myself out of things I yearned or loved to do. Take it from me, people, that’s no way to live.
I am calling these lessons The Gym Principles, but you can apply them to any area of your life where you are feeling blocked. These principles are not in any particular order.
Approach your next step or task with an open, nonjudgmental, positive attitude
When Leo tells me I can do 15-20 reps, I shoot for 20 reps every time. Why decide ahead of time that I can’t do something? I won’t know what I can do until I try. If I stop short, then I only did what I told myself I could do. If I try for 20 and can only do 18, that means I challenged myself.
So often in life, we get derailed by others. Why do you want to be one of those people, too?
Set gentle goals, both large and small
My large, long-term goal for the gym is to get moving and stay healthy. Going to the gym and training are two ways in which I move myself towards the long-term goal. It’s a goal with a line that doesn’t exist because I will never be done. I am OK with that, and you should be, too.
Any day in which I’m exercising for 30-60 minutes is a better day than one where I didn’t. I want to get to the gym at least 4 days a week and train at least 2. On the other days, I do what I feel I can do (fibromyalgia pain can limit that) or take a class. Today’s a high pain day, so I’m going to walk slowly on a treadmill for 45 minutes.
Celebrate each day’s accomplishments and challenges
When I’m done at the gym, I feel better. The endorphins are pumping to whatever degree, and I can feel it. Since my goal was to get to the gym and do something, I am able to meet my goals on a regular basis. But I’m not detailing it to the most minute degree where any deviation is unacceptable.
Life is hard enough. Don’t join that team.
Instead, feel good about feeling good. You’re endorphins are running? Good. Did you challenge yourself? Great! So maybe you’re making slower progress than you like, but so what? Who says we’re entitled to anything going any way that we’ve already decided it should go?
Let it go. It’s OK to be proud of yourself.
Yes, you. I’m talking to you. ENJOY YOURSELF. Are you working as a civil rights lawyer? Fantastic! But you should also be enjoying where it is you’re spending your time. Enjoying what you’re doing doesn’t mean that it can’t be serious or have a positive impact.
What more positive impact on the world can you have than being healthy? The world needs YOU and all the enthusiasm you can muster. You can be a force of positive change in the world simply by being positive. You can’t help but feel positive when you’re enjoying yourself.
So what are you waiting for?