Project Louise: Exercise Every Single Day? Says Who?

(Bjørn Giesenbauer via Compfight)

(Bjørn Giesenbauer via Compfight)

OK, this is getting interesting. One week into the challenge laid down by Editor Carey and Coach Allison — to exercise every single day before 7 p.m., and to post a comment reporting that I did so before 11 p.m. — I have made several discoveries.

  1. Carey was right. Exercising every day makes you feel better.
  2. The sweatier the exercise is, the better you feel.
  3. I hate being told what to do.

Let’s focus for now on No. 3, because we all know that Nos. 1 and 2 are true. Right? We do know that, yes? We just don’t do it because … well, because of No. 3.

At least that’s what I’m concluding about myself. Even though I signed up for Project Louise of my own free will, and even though I did it because I really, truly want to change my habits for good and live a longer and healthier life, and even though I know that Carey Goldberg, Allison Rimm and all the other wonderful people who are helping me on this journey are truly here to help, not to push me around, a huge part of my brain reacts to all this support and encouragement and expert advice with a simple, all-too-familiar refrain:

You’re not the boss of me.

Yes, this is the week when I’ve been getting in touch with my inner child. Or, more precisely, my inner brat.

As soon as I wrote that, I realized that I have heard that phrase before — from a wonderful woman named Pam Young, who has written a lot about this idea that we all have an inner “brat” whom we need to learn to love. Because it’s that little bratty voice that keeps us from doing all the good, mature, responsible things we all know we should do. And as long as you keep fighting the brat, you’re going to lose — as any mother of a 2-year-old can tell you.

Likewise, as that same mother can tell you, the secret to success is to persuade the 2-year-old that what you’re telling her to do is actually fun — to make her want to do it, and even to make her think that it’s her own idea.

You don’t argue about why she has to put on her shoes; you ask her whether she wants to wear the pink ones or the sparkly silver ones. You don’t make her clean her plate; you put a lot of delicious, healthy food in front of her and let her choose what she wants.

And you don’t make her exercise every day. You tell her she gets to choose whether she wants to go for a nice long walk with the dog or ride her bike. Or maybe she’d like to go swimming instead? Or maybe, if she doesn’t get around to any of that, you’ll let her watch TV while she walks on the treadmill.

Or, as Pam’s website puts it, “Make it fun and it will get done.”

So, what do you know: This week I’ve gone swimming, and I’ve walked the dog, and I’ve watched some really silly TV on the treadmill. And it all got fairly simple, once I realized what I really wanted to post each time, and what I’ll be saying from now on:

I’m doing it because I want to, and not because you told me to.

It may not be the most mature response I’ve ever had. But as long as it’s working, I don’t really care.

Readers, what keeps you from exercising or practicing other healthy habits? Do you have any tricks for keeping your inner brat at bay?

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  • Ray

    Ah! enlightenment. If you don’t watch out nirvana will take you away from us.

    On a more mundane level, I can only continue to beat my tattered old drum. If your aim and goal is to raise and maintain your level of fitness into the top one percent of all persons, then by all means do “all of the above”. If you want to simply be healthy in the lifestyle you’re comfortable with, emulate the new Louise, content to be in the top 10 percent.

    I have met and associated with a few people over the years who are inveterate devotees of a particular activity, such as hiking, biking, exercise, travel, et. al. And found that they have generally been aloof from anyone not similarly focused, which is to say rather boring. I am something of a dilettante and tend to enjoy conversations about the peculiar side of life.

    • Louise Kennedy

      As a fox rather than a hedgehog myself, I think you’re really on to something. Dilettantism forever! Much more fun.
      Oh, and I’ve done some kind of exercise every day this week. The inner brat no longer seems to mind that. She just doesn’t like to post about it. Booooring!

      • Ray

        Glad you don’t boast, cuz I’m feeling defensive right now, in no shape for a sweating competition, just getting over what my MD deduced is post-herpetic neuralgia* and been well below my normal some-kind-of-exercise-everyday baseline. Close to 100% now.

        *if you’re not familiar, it’s a parting shot from shingles and hurts like hell. Chicken pox, the gift that keeps on giving.

        • Louise Kennedy

          Oh, that sounds awful! Hope it has gone away.

          • Ray

            Almost. Haven’t been able to be as active, and experiencing the curious fact that when you don’t exercise the body, little aches and pains creep in. I’m back to square one like Sisyphus, with a bad case of déjà vu.

  • Louise Kennedy

    Walked to lunch again. AND back. Not a lot, but something every day, at least.

  • lindam313

    I LOVE the inner brat! That is so true – I have never met anyone (i.e. regular type of person) who likes to be told what to do! I don’t have an “inner brat” for exercise, but unfortunately I do for plenty of other things!!! Good luck!

  • Louise Kennedy

    I’m doing it because I want to: I walked back from a lunch appointment. And I’ll walk more later!

    • Ray

      I applaud that approach, and had to laugh at myself over the recollection of a time when I left a meeting at a MA Government office on Tremont and decided to walk to North Station in suit and tie and dress shoes, with a heavy computer bag on my shoulder. I discovered that Beacon Hill is quite a hill indeed. Then I decided to take a shortcut through the government services complex, only to discover its north side is something of a labyrinth for through traffic. By the time I got to North Station I had a week’s worth of exercise. (-8

      • Louise Kennedy

        Oh, yes! I’ve tried that “shortcut” myself. Definitely a workout!