A few years ago, a new guest at my supper club announced her resolution to “start working out,” and asked the rest of us for our exercise routines. I mentioned customized cardio and yoga on alternating days, which sounded sedentary compared to the rest of my dinner companions. Hours of running, daily. Bootcamp-style workouts that inspired silent opinions in me about the need to rest and rotate for proper muscle recovery.
The supper club disbanded soon after that meal. But when I think about that visitor, I wish I’d encouraged her with the full story of my journey into fitness. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to do 60-90 minutes of yoga or 45 minutes of crazy cardio. I started exercising a little at a time, experimenting with different methods and teachers until I found my own unique formula. I expanded into new strength and dedication as my stamina increased.
Resolution: Be kind. (Start with yourself.)
I’ve wondered about the context of her question. Was she looking for health and wellness, just making conversation or chasing an idealized version of what she “should” be?
Sometimes our most popular exercise is beating ourselves up, especially in January as we make resolutions to “improve.”
My exercise regimen is quieter this month, as I experiment with tai chi and qigong. But I learned more from yoga than how to stretch into new postures or practice a deeper awareness of mind and body. Yoga, as I was taught, includes this instruction: “No comparison.” Our souls and the bodies that carry them are always changing, and we will naturally be stronger on some days or less flexible on others. Yoga gave me the space to notice and accept the times my body invited me to exit a posture more quickly than I expected.
No competition – not even with a past version of yourself. It’s a lesson in self-kindness and gentleness I sometimes struggle to implement when I’m not standing on my yoga mat. We can adjust any resolutions as needed, whether adopting them again with a new timeline or dropping them for standards or priorities more authentic to the voices in our hearts.
Resolution: Celebrate. (Start with yourself.)
In her best-selling book, Presence, Amy Cuddy writes about “nudging” herself forward after an accident. I love that. So much can be accomplished, a bit at a time. Some of our biggest and most lasting changes are quiet, incremental ones.
“Nudge” can be a powerful verb. I also like this one: “Nurture.” By my definition, nurturing includes simple celebrations of the things that are already right with me and my world. I want to pay closer attention to all the wonderful, amazing ways my body serves me daily, including the fingers typing this message with such obedient speed and grace. I want to acknowledge the breath cycling in and out of my body with no conscious effort on my part.
For too many years, I noticed only the opportunities to tweak and sculpt myself into more of this and less of that.
How will you nudge, nurture and nourish your body and soul in 2018? Your recipe will be different than mine. Uniqueness. That’s part of the magic of being human, and it’s one more facet of this beautiful, messy life worth celebrating.