One Tiny Step to Health

I like to exercise. I know my body was built for exercise and I like it . . . when I have time for it. But I have been terrible about making space for it in my life and as a result I have often felt guilty, overwhelmed, and despairing because I don't exercise.

That changed with one tiny shift in my perspective and practice: exercising for 10 minutes.

Before this shift in perspective, I was convinced my lack of exercise was a scheduling problem. I had to wake up super early to exercise before work, but I was naturally resistant to this idea because as a writer the morning hours are very, very precious to me. The best time for me to be creative is in the morning before work and before the day is filled with obligations. I had dueling priorities and preserving my quiet time has usually won out.

Let's be real here too. Writing in the morning hours only happened if I was operating on all cylinders. Too often my morning has looked like a mad dash once I awoke to get showered and dressed (do I have any clean clothes?), to gathering what I need for the day (grocery list, checkbook, mail), and inhaling the most convenient breakfast I can cobble together in thirty seconds (which was often nothing and I would leave without packing a lunch as well). So, I had more than one trouble starting my day off right and guilt about my lack of exercise only heightened my sense of failure.

Sometimes, I would go for a walk at lunch. But in my work world, lunch was eaten at your desk as you powered through the day. So, there often was not a window for a walk. And by the time I got home, my first thought was to make dinner and collapse on the couch exhausted. Exercise was the furthest thought from my mind.

Reading the book Chris Powell's Choose More, Lose More for Life, I read about Powell's 9-Minute Missions. These were mini workouts that he combined with cardio or interval training later in the day. He said he would often get up, do a 9-Minute Mission and then hop in the shower. That felt like a huge jolt of inspiration to me. I could do a 9-Minute Mission! I could work out like that. That could be one tiny or micro step forward in building a lasting exercise routine.

What I didn't expect was the all the other benefits of just utilizing those 10 minutes each morning. When I started waking up and doing a 9 or 10 minute mini-workout, I would get in the shower and marvel--I exercised! I did it! I am an exerciser! It gave me a huge psychological lift each day to have conquered the hurdle of "exercise." Of course, I have plans to incorporate more exercise into my day but for now, this is a win. And every morning it identifies me as a person who exercises. It gets my juices flowing. And it puts me in a state of mind where I want to exercise more! 

I could still use my early mornings for study and writing and what I found was that by taking this one tiny step of 10 minutes of intense exercise, I was eager to get outside later in the day for a walk, or hop on the treadmill at night or find some other way that day to move my body. Just starting with 10 minutes is making a big difference for me.

Would focusing on just 10 minutes of exercise each day help you?


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