I’ve been reading an interesting book called ‘No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness’ by Michelle Segar, Ph.D. There is a particular exercise in the book that gives you a list of particular physical activities to write down your positive impressions and negative impressions of them.
Doing this exercise brought light to me that what my positive moments have previously come from are having a natural feeling of ease. My negative impressions tended to come from the duration, or long amount of time, doing the activity. The positive impression has always been in my heart, but it’s interesting to understand the dynamic of our negative impressions.
When I was young in athletics, we were ingrained to believe in order to win, or be successful, we must go the extra mile. I can see now how this extra mile always gets me. I seem to always be doing more than what is necessary. Doing more than what is asked. The mile never got shorter, yet always extended itself longer, allowing me to lose site of the natural feel good, and thus, dreading the extra mile along the way.
Eventually, the extra mile is all we end up working for and this is a big problem in exercise at the moment. Fun becomes work. For me, it has taken a lot of slowing down and re-calibrating to distinguish the difference between fun exercise, which is what I want it to be, and work exercise, which I dread.
I have stopped working for the extra mile and in doing so, it opened up to me how far I have actually been going. I had been going too far with my efforts! Now, I simply give what I can and do not discredit or beat myself up about it. Exercise feels natural again. No amount of time, distance, or weight can give measure to what feels natural.
If you find yourself in a similar boat with exercise, or whatever else, I can leave you with this simple insight. The extra mile is no extension of what you are already doing. The extra mile occurs during the mile you are already on. Victory is achieved at the start of the race. If you find yourself participating, just relax and finish, you are already a success.
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes fitness articles for the Record-Herald.