Project Louise: The One Thing That Will Actually Make Me Exercise

Who could look into a child's eyes and break a promise? (Joe Lencioni/ via Flickr)

Who could look into a child’s eyes and break a promise? (Joe Lencioni/ via Flickr)

By Louise Kennedy
Guest contributor

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing Project Louise for three months – one-quarter of this yearlong effort. In some ways it already feels like a year since I vowed to change my eating and exercise habits; in others I feel like a rank beginner.

Here’s where it seems as if I’ve barely begun: creating a real, practical, sustainable exercise routine. As coach Allison Rimm wrote last week, I jumped in with both feet to starting the project, and I’m now starting to realize that this habit of quick, impulsive beginnings has been one of my lifelong obstacles to creating lasting change.

Not just in exercise but in many areas of my life, I tend to dive right in with huge enthusiasm, tackle a project with great energy and excitement, and then … well, once the novelty wears off, I’m more likely to go looking for a new challenge than to focus on completing the one I’ve got.

So, as you may have noticed, already this year I’ve been gung-ho about swimming, and then power yoga, and then biking … and I haven’t even bothered to write about my other passing (and purely in-the-abstract) infatuations with everything from karate to Zumba to bellydancing as the real way to get in shape.

But this week I seem to have found the one thing that will actually make me exercise: I promised my kid that I would. And, because I vowed when I first looked into his trusting baby eyes, 16 years ago, that I would never, ever break a promise to him, I did it.

Granted, I didn’t do much. But (with a cunning honed by years of almost promising, “I’ll take you to the zoo today,” and then amending it on the fly to “I’ll take you to the zoo sometime this month”) all I had actually promised was: “I will work out today.” So I lifted weights and used my resistance bands – in my bedroom, in my pajamas, at the very end of the day – and, frankly, felt as if I was cheating a bit. But I said I’d work out, and I did.

So now I just have to make bigger promises. Not crazy promises, but ones that will really improve my health. Because even if I can’t always (yet) do as Coach Allison says and “trust, love and respect myself” enough to get healthier, I do trust, love and respect my kids enough to do it for them.

I promise.

And, this week, I promise to exercise on three different days.

Readers, what motivates you when nothing else works? And what are you willing to commit to right now?


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • J9

    For me, exercise is something I schedule like an appointment. It is an appointment that I keep with myself, and I give it the same importance as a doctor’s appointment. They are at predetermined times and days so that it is predictable. It is much easier to make it happen than when it is a vague “sometime this week.” Write it on your calendar, whether you are taking a class or just going to the gym, it is an appointment that you cannot break.

  • mrv

    I’ve taken to doing virtual runs. You register online for a virtual race distance (that you can walk/run, do over a period of time, treadmill or outside, etc. – just get moving), and for a charitable donation and proof of your distance the race organizers send you some race gear (a shirt, or a pretty medal). Speaking of which, I have to get outside to get my distance in!

  • GW

    Just take that bicycle to Cape Cod and the Islands as soon as the weather gets nice (soon) and enjoy the fresh air, beaches, pine forests and friendly people!

    • Louise Kennedy

      I know, I can’t wait! That’s the great thing about a bike — it has never felt like a workout to me, just like fun. Come on, spring!

  • Bella

    If lifting weights and doing exercises at the end of the day in PJs is cheating, then add me to the list of cheaters. But the 50 sit ups and squats I do while waiting for the coffee to brew are effective than the Butts n Guts yoga class I never make it to. The push ups I do on my counter while waiting for the oven timer are going to get me nicer arms than the machines at the gym I never go to. And the weights I lift before bed, in my pjs are a million times more effective than the cross fit class I dropped out of.

    • Louise Kennedy

      Just have to say — this has stuck in my head all week and seems like such a smart way to think about it. Building exercise into every part of your day, instead of thinking you have to carve out some big chunk of time that so many of us just don’t have. Thank you!