Something Small, Everyday
One thing that I’ve realized lately is that life will always get busy and things will always get in the way. And there will always be a reason not to do the things you know you should. But if those things are important to you, you need to make time to do them.
Recently (over Christmas and New Years) when everything was really busy, I went roughly a week and a half without really exercising properly. Things just kept popping up and getting in the way, and I hadn’t prioritized sticking to my exercise routine even though I knew I should have.
I felt myself feeling progressively worse the longer I went without exercising. I started to feel so tired throughout the days and I couldn't wake myself up in the mornings. I normally hate sleeping in, but I began to sleep in until 9.30, even 10am, because I felt I physically couldn't get out of bed. Then I would be up for a few hours and early-mid afternoon I would feel exhausted again. It was awful feeling like I had achieved nothing and still had no energy to actually achieve anything.
What it made me realise (well, confirm what I already knew) was that even now exercise is still my medicine, and I need to "take it" everyday. But hey, if exercise is the medicine I'll have to take for the rest of my life, I'll gladly accept that.
Often during busy times I forget to think of the long term, and only think of the short term. For example, I would normally prioritise exam study or an assignment or preparing for Christmas and think that all my time in the day needed to be focused on that. So I would think “I don’t have time to exercise today.”
For some reason I, and I’m sure lots of other people do too, feel like when life gets busy we can just put other things on hold and pick them up later. Like during the Christmas period I put exercising & my health on hold. But you can’t do that – without working on my health and maintaining my exercise regime, I began going backwards. Not doing anything doesn’t mean your previous progress is saved.
One of the quotes that resonates deepest with me is “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway” – Earl Nightingale.
To me this means that either time is going to pass with you achieving your dreams and goals, or it’s going to pass without you achieving them. So if the time is going to pass anyway, you may as well make it worthwhile and get stuff done. Life doesn’t stop when times get busy, and you can’t just put things on hold.
There is always time, you just have to prioritise how you use it. Because the reality is that time doesn’t change. People don’t have less time or more time in a day, they just have more or less things to do. So you prioritise the most important things and make time for them. The trouble often is that in busy times, our priorities get skewed, and things that are important to us normally (i.e. exercising) get left behind.
After roughly a week and a half I thought, “Ok Jess, this is enough.” I was so exhausted that even the thought of exercising made me nauseous, but I knew that the perfect time wouldn’t come around, and that I couldn’t wait until I felt like I had enough energy to exercise. I just had to go and do it anyway.
Finding the strength and energy to get back into exercising when you feel exhausted takes a lot of willpower. It feels like you’re going against what your body is telling you. However I knew that my fatigue would just get worse and worse until I did something about it.
So I did what I did in the very beginning. I started small. I told myself “just ten minutes on the bike on your way home, you’re driving right past the gym and it’s only ten minutes.”
I did that for a few days in a row, until it became less of a hassle and more of a convenience. The thing is the more you do of something, generally the more you want to do. The more I exercised, the more I wanted to do it again the next day.
Pictured: My small thing for today - taking my dog for a walk.
Sometimes just doing something small sets you up for something big. "Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out" - Robert Collier. Those small efforts are really important. Without starting small with those 10 minutes, I wouldn’t have build up to 25 minutes in the new few weeks.
For the last few weeks, when I've been really busy I’ll make sure I just do something small during the day so that I don’t get out of the habit of doing something. Because sometimes it’s not the actual exercising that’s the hardest part, it’s rebuilding the habit of doing it often. So it doesn’t matter if what you do is small, it matters that what you do is something. And as long as it’s something, it will be worthwhile in the long run.
So that’s why my new saying for 2015 is “something small, everyday.” Whether it’s 5 minutes on bike, taking my dog to the park, walking around the block, or running up and down my mattress (yep I've done that, it was so tiring! It was like running on sand). But at least it’s something. What's even better is that it keeps you in the habit of doing something. And that makes exercising everyday a lifestyle choices of yours and that choice becomes part of who you are. Because after all, we are the choices that we make everyday.