It's not often you hear people getting excited at the thought of going for a run or heading to the gym. In fact, according to the Department of Health, more than half of all Australians are not active enough. One has to ponder, why is physical activity so distasteful to the majority of us?
The simple answer is that we haven't grown to love or appreciate it. You're more likely to hear that its something you must do, or else for example risk becoming overweight, rather than hear about the instant and lasting health benefits of physical activity. Or that regular activity can improve your quality of life and make you feel more energetic. In this article, I share my own experience with physical activity and how making the transition from discomfort to appreciation has changed how I view activity.
I made the transition from discomfort to appreciation moderately later in life, at the age of 30. The transition for me began when a neighbour and good friend suggested trying out at the gym together albeit at the uncomfortable pre-dawn time that is 6 am during winter. Gyms had just reopened (only to be forced to shut 3 weeks later due to renewed COVID lockdown measures) and I felt the urge to emerge from lockdown a different & better person. Over the course of week 1, I was dragging myself out of bed, dreading the sight of no sunshine. My gym partner whom I became envious of, had already made the transition to fully active. Incredibly, he would knowingly drag himself into discomfort in an effort to challenge himself. After all, it was his idea to instigate the early morning workouts.
Interestingly, he would commit to this routine for 66 days, where on each day he's up at 5 am and undertaking any sort of workout even if that meant going for a walk. Relating this back to my own experience, it was my partner's drive to challenge himself combined with being fed up with the semantics of being in a locked-down city which encouraged me to make my own transition to being an active person. With that being said it was only when I personally committed to a challenge that things started to change. Here’s are the main things I looked for in my personal challenge
The challenge had to be something I could physically attain but at the same time be moderately discomforting.
Getting used to discomfort was key. It meant that going forward I could normalise strenuous exercise into my routine or maximise healthy eating and make them into ongoing habits.
It would also help if the challenge were a social endeavour with several people partaking.
Importantly, while the challenge may start with an end date, the action of creating more challenges should never end. It could start with a week, a month or even a year (say that again with the theme song of Friends playing in your head ;)). Start small and work your way up the time ladder.
Apply goals and keep track of your progress. Is it to become more energetic, grow muscles? Taking a selfie every day over the course of the challenge is a super joyful way of keeping track.
Have a reminder for the challenge handy, ideally something you could see every day. I kept a calendar poster with a checklist of actions to complete each day. If you're a digitally inclined person, use your smartphone. There are plenty of apps which set reminders and checklists of activity for you.
As I write this, I've entered week 12 of my self-proclaimed enlightening. I'm also halfway through a 75-day physical challenge. My view of physical activity has turned upside down. I love physical activity and I love the difference its made in my life. I hope this article invigorates you the same way. Take care and be safe!