Daily exercise is ritualistic. Personally, I am not fond of rituals. It’s too “cult-y” for me. If there is one thing that I strive to “do” on a frequent pattern with exercise is to break a ritual routine and observe the ways in which exercise happens away from a physical workout.
In doing so, I develop gratitude and motivation to be active in whatever form that it will come. My idea is not to create a reputation of fitness, but rather to embrace a compatible lifestyle with the ambitions I am following. Right now, that is to be active. In the process, I get the perk of appearing fit. But really, it is the joy in feeling alive that brings me happiness. Not a certain look.
Understanding this comes with a lot of humility. I’ve spent decades learning and practicing the ways in which one is supposed to cultivate daily success; ritualistically. The humility happens in moments I keep finding myself craving a systematic plan that makes life easier and convenient, and then giving so much time and energy into convincing myself that IS the ultimate way, even though it makes my life a burden and a hassle.
We tell ourselves of our efforts: “Well, at least it will pay off in the long run!”
No it doesn’t. I know a lot of people, and a vast majority of them don’t even like to run, period! And of those runners, I would say that even they have their days when they don’t like running.
Exercise happens in a plethora of ways. The people who are “working” at it go to gyms, run or bike trails, weightlift, or join group fitness classes. Non-conventional ways to think of exercise is a simple walk up a flight of stairs, walk around the block, stretch for a five-minute break, reading a book, pausing for meditation, gratitude practices, Sudoku puzzles… Do you catch my drift?
The key is that we give praise to ourselves for these actions. Too often, we discredit ourselves saying that, “I’m too far off for that small of an action to amount to anything.” True, neglecting or discouraging our efforts does not usually build up anything but more neglect and discouragement. And at that point, we depend on other people in our lives to be our source of inspiration. Trust me, this just drains a person. Child or adult.
I went for a hike at a state national park. It was invigorating. I go through a 45-minute Yoga session. It is invigorating. I put myself through an hour-long grueling workout session. Invigorating. I then give myself praise for the feeling and I move on. There is no plan to do more. That type of extremism shades me from the feeling of being alive and attuned to a fresh environment.
When I am not stressed; I am not wishing for less stress. When I am stressed; I am wishing for no stress. Exercise builds the positive energy necessary to harness life without stress, but it does not promise it. That is why it is essential to keep at it and give praise for what you are doing in your life!
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes exercise columns for the Record-Herald.