Exercise is one of those things that you either love or hate. All my life, I have firmly been in the “hate” camp. Forcing myself to exercise just seems to be the low point of my day. I try to put it off, or I convince myself there are just too many meetings or projects for me to do my full workout.
But as I get older, health has moved up on my priority list. You put on some years (and a few pounds), and all of a sudden you’re like a car owner sweating over the fine print in an extended warranty. Will all of my parts actually last as long as they’re supposed to?
Of course, no self-help book would be complete without a chapter on the need for exercise. It’s one of the keys to leading a balanced, productive life. Seems like everyone should be on-board with that, so why is it so hard for otherwise smart, highly motivated people to exercise?
Maybe our reasons for exercising aren’t aligned with our goals. I am trying to wean myself from a life-long attitude that exercise is drudgery to it being something I actually want to do. Yikes, is that possible?
If you consider the bigger picture, I think it is. I recently picked up a little book by John Maxwell called “Make Today Count: The Secret of Your Success is Determined by Your Daily Agenda.” Maxwell’s guide to setting priorities includes chapters on attitude, family, finances, relationships, values, growth—and, yes, health.
The health chapter starts with the story of Maxwell’s poor exercise and diet habits and a life-changing heart attack. So, surprise, surprise, he now exercises and eats sensibly, I thought. Well, that’s true. But I was pleased to see a few other items listed under “health” that I didn’t expect:
“Have a purpose worth living for.” Bingo. As Maxwell puts it, “When you have something to live for, not only does it make you desire a long life, but it also helps you to see the importance of the steps along the way.” When I think about all of the things I want to do in my life, I begin to see that good health is necessary for me to accomplish them. And then I’m much more willing to climb onto my NordicTrack…for awhile.
“Do work you enjoy.” This may not always be possible, but I agree with Maxwell on two points: 1) Work that isn’t fulfilling or enjoyable can lead to frustration, stress and burnout. 2) Work that constantly puts you in a zone of weakness can also be harmful. Here’s a good indicator: “One of the ways you can tell you’re working in an area of strength is that it actually gives you energy.”
“Find your pace.” According to Maxwell, “Part of taking care of yourself includes finding and maintaining the pace that’s right for you. If you take life more slowly than your energy level is capable of, you can become lazy. If you continually run at a pace faster than you are capable of, you can burn out. You need to find your balance.”
“Accept your personal worth.” Learn to accept yourself and have confidence in your abilities, even if others don’t. This is especially true if you’re starting your own business or changing careers. You definitely have to believe in yourself—and act on those beliefs.
“Laugh.” Maxwell says it best: “If you can laugh at yourself loudly and often, you will find it liberating. There’s no better way to prevent stress from becoming distress.”