Let me be blunt: I’m afraid you’ve been having sex without orgasms.
When it comes to exercise, that is.
To extend this ham-handed metaphor a bit farther: I know some people say there’s no such thing as bad sex unless it hurts you. And of course there’s no such thing as bad exercise unless it hurts you. Any bit of activity, any rise from the couch, any flight of stairs, is good.
But I worry that halfway through your Project Louise year, while you’ve made truly laudable progress on healthier eating and emotional self-care, you clearly have yet to catch the exercise bug. Oh, you’ve tried, heroically, from bike rides to hot yoga to personal training. But it somehow hasn’t stuck.
So that’s the purpose of this letter: To try to jump-start your fitness, to remind you that in your original goals you listed “Create and follow a regular, sustainable exercise plan”; and most importantly, to try to persuade you that exercise — daily exercise, moderate to vigorous — is the magical secret of life.
(Readers, won’t you help? As in, let’s all pile on Louise! I end this letter with a few of my own quirky personal tips for making exercise a daily habit. If you’ll add a few of your own in the comments section, or whatever arguments you think might most help Louise get going, you’ll be rewarded not only by knowing you’ve helped but with a bit of WBUR swag. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “exercise tips” in the subject line, and specify whether you want a WBUR cup or baseball cap sent to the address you give.
And we can also all help with accountability. Louise has agreed that beginning tomorrow, she’ll get some form of activity or exercise every day by 7 p.m. and report in on it by 11 p.m. in the comments section below.)
True, we’re aiming for sustainable change and reporting to an online audience every day does not seem like a lifelong practice. But this is just for the month, just to try to establish the habit.
Some say it takes just 21 days to establish a new habit; it’s surely more complex than that – some research suggests the average is more like two months — but here’s how you know you’re there: It’s harder not to do it than to do it.
Louise, I do believe that’s the key. You’ve said that you don’t make time for exercise the way you do for reading because it’s not as pleasurable. I’d so love you to reach the point I’ve reached: I do enjoy the exercise in and of itself, but what most motivates me is the desire not to feel like crap on a given day. It’s harder to face the torpor and irritability of not doing it than the brief sweaty effort of doing it. Continue reading