This time of year, exercise can slip to the back burner. No one wants to be rushing around, over-stressed, and emotionally drained. It can simply be a by-product of the added to-do’s and emotions of the season.
I invite you to let go of the “exercise to burn off those extra calories” approach to staying motivated this season. Honestly, it is near impossible to know how many calories your body is burning with exercise. There are just too many factors that affect how many calories we burn that vary person to person and change day to day in each individual. Besides, the calorie-burning motivation only distracts us from the real benefits of exercise this season.
What turns a physical activity into exercise is when it is focused, purposeful, and consistent. This makes it a perfect opportunity to be mindful. Mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, with kindness. The overlap between these two resources makes them perfect partners for restoring calm, healt,h and well-being.
Gratitude is a shortcut to mindfulness. When we turn our attention to what we are appreciate, we are automatically brought to the present moment in a way that is purposeful and kind. A simple way to bring mindfulness to exercise is practicing an attitude of gratitude about exercise. What are you grateful for about your body, its abilities, its possibilities? What opportunities are you grateful for that allow you even a brief moment to exercise? What knowledge or skills are you grateful for that allow you to move in a healthy way? What are you grateful for about how exercise makes you feel? What do you appreciate about what you see and hear around you as you move?
I invite you to give it a try. Take a walk, stretch, lift some weights, dance, move intentionally in some way while focusing your attention on what you appreciate in each moment. Keep it playful, see how many ‘gratitudes’ you can brainstorm. As you do, know that you are not only strengthening your body, but your ability to stay present as well.
Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!