With New Years resolutions on the minds of many, it seems a perfect time to shed some light on many peoples number one resolution. That being, get healthy. Loose weight or join a gym.
January has to be the busiest time for gyms. Perhaps only slowing down just in time for that delicious box of Valentines chocolates, a short six weeks away. With best intentions , we put on our spanking new workout gear and head in masses to the exercise bikes and treadmills. We get in , Get the work done. Then hurry home again.
Dare I even ask. How many of us reward our hard efforts by stopping and getting a fancy coffee and treat on the way home? We could in fact consume more calories with that one activity than we just burned off.
We go to this massive annual effort , only to then end up putting that very same resolution at the top of the list the following year. Could this be, because when we showed up we weren’t actually there at all?
Imagine for a moment, you are sitting comfortably, watching your favorite program, munching a bag of potato chips or your snack of choice. You aren’t even conscious of the taste. Not to mention the calories being consumed. Isn’t that part of the reason why loosing weight is high on the resolution list in the first place? It’s the same thing if you leave your mind at home when you come to exercise.
For me it wasn’t New Years when I concluded that whatever it took, I needed to be in the gym. It was when my neurological pain had become relentless and the medical profession had moved on to someone else. It then became crystal clear that I was going to have to get myself out of the mess I was in.
My pilot light moment.
It was at that point I got the idea that if I could train myself to accept just a little more pain, then perhaps I could exercise. Then over time, I could at least prevent my health from getting any worse. It was literally what I perceived to be my last chance.
Before I could talk myself out of it I joined a nice smaller local gym. I Went religiously every single day for a month. Nothing changed. I didn’t loose an ounce of weight and my pain was as bad as ever.
So now what? Then it came to me. If you want to fix a vehicle, you go to a mechanic. You wouldn’t just play around with the engine without getting expert advise. The same thing, I find out, applies to fitness.
So I made an appointment to see a trainer. I chose Harley Preston based on his write up. He is a trainer at the gym I had chosen. The fact he, among other things, is a medical exercise specialist made him an obvious choice. At least on paper. I was about to put his knowledge to the test. The old me , would have not even entertained such a notion. Upon meeting him as expected, he knew his stuff. Harley listened patiently as I reeled off my long list of ailments. To my surprise he didn’t pass judgement. He actually seemed connected with what I was saying. That first meeting was much like confession. I had to be honest with not only myself, but with him, if I had any hope of getting better. At the end of my time he said. “Ok, there is a lot going on isn’t there? let me know if you want to work together”. What kind of sales pitch is that, I thought instantly.
It was at that point the light went on. It doesn’t matter if there was a sales pitch or not. It was in me. I had to WANT to do the WORK. Without being talked into it. He needed to know I wanted it enough to work for it. So thank you Harley for not trying to sell me. It confirmed for me that I really was prepared to give it everything I had. I wasn’t doing it for someone else, I was doing it for me.
Mindful exercise has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself. I have never asked him, but I suspect that he routinely does not do sales pitches. He clearly doesn’t need to. The client has to want it for success to be realized.
There was one thing he said that I will never forget.” Wouldn’t it be nice to be off the medications?” It wasn’t, “you should be off the medications.” Or even how such a thing could even become reality. He simply allowed my mind to go there. I loved what my mind saw. No medical professinal had ever even contemplated my life without medication. From that very moment the path to better health had begun. You would think at this point it would be endless sit ups, push ups and all kinds of exercise torture. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What kind of alternate universe had I stumbled into?
I had a long way to go before I could even think of trying the exercise torture. I still could not step off of a simple curb while holding something with both hands. The only thing I knew for certain, was that I didn’t get this bad overnight. It took years for my pain disorder to develop into the debilitating condition that had become my reality, so I had to allow whatever time was necessary to regain my health.
The first nugget of wisdom Harley told me, which I took to heart, was to allow myself to be fully present when I exercise. He didn’t mean simply to show up and move heavy objects. He meant for me to clear my mind which routinely is full of everyday stuff and focus only on how I felt at that moment, in the process of the exercise. Harley didn’t even care If I could do the actual exercise. That would come in time. All He asked was for me to be fully there, to become present in the process of my own being, and learn to soften and release any tension that I may be holding. Up to that point I had never thought about tension patterns never mind how they effect my health and overall well being. Who knew that exercise can often make tense areas worse if we don’t know what we’re doing. Without a knowledgeable professional like Harley I could have done more damage than good even though I had the best of intentions . Harley has managed to teach me to understand my tensions, and my weaknesses, and then how to balance these into harmonious movements patterns. Harley refers to process as primary surrender.
One other thing that was such a crucial key for me, was learning not to worry about what everyone else was able to do, or what I weighed on any given day. Harley encouraged me to simply accept that where I was, was the way it is for that moment. A simplified version on ridding ourselves of what he refers to as outcome fixation.
I have learned a lot from Harley. Far too much to write in one post. He continues to be why I never just show up at the gym. It has developed into more of an arrival now when I go.
I become one with the moment. One with the movement.
For continued good health, exercise needs to become a REVOLUTION In our thinking and our being. In our very culture. Not just a resolution we write down just before the stroke of midnight on New Years eve. To be discarded almost as quickly as it is written.
It has to become movement. Every day. Going forward for as long as we live. Cycle, walk, swim , dance, run , skip ANYTHING other than staying still. Do what you can, and build from there.
Don’t get me wrong, resolutions have their place. Perhaps though, the greater success is achieved from not setting a goal of loosing 20 lbs. and only then getting on with your life.
Don’t put your life on hold. Instead embrace movement as the centerpiece of life itself . Thus creating a revolution of epic proportions.