The Independent

Turning ‘chores’ upside-down

What a week! I think I’ve been to the gym four times since I wrote my last column. My son is home for winter break and is very encouraging; and he and my daughter (my regular gym buddy) and I have been working out hard.

So hard, in fact, that I’m sore all over as I type this. What a great feeling!

It’s the new year, and I’ve set myself big, ambitious, juicy goals, and I spent a lot of time this past week mapping out how to get from here to there, both in terms of fitness and for my life in general. As part of that process, I asked myself a question: “What would it look like if I treated a self-care regimen as a joyful duty instead of a chore?” Then I wrote down some of the answers that occurred to me:

Yay! I get to go to the gym today!”

Hooray! I have kale and other healthy food to eat!” (My daughter had a good chuckle out of that one.)

Wow! I can do so much! I can work so hard! I am so strong!”

No thank you, I’ll pass on the cake today. I’m working hard to change my habits.”

Yay! I still have time to squeeze in a quick workout!”

I don’t smoke any more because I need my lungs to be strong and healthy—I’m training for track and field events in the 50+ Games.”

I’m pushing myself because I want to, because I want to feel stronger and stronger.”

I stay prepared, because you never know when an opportunity to get some exercise will show up.”

I love to try new things and challenge myself!”

Exciting, right?

Last year I stopped the constant stream of negative self-talk I had been subjecting myself to, and it was a blessed relief. It really was a life changer. So much so, in fact, that I thought this year maybe I would take it one step further, and give myself a constant stream of positive self-talk, especially when it comes to taking care of myself.

I want to make it a joyful process, rather than something I think of as a chore. Call me immature, but I still dodge chores when I can. Ug chores. I mean, they need to get done, but I can’t say I enjoy washing the dishes for the nine jillionth time.

But what if there was a way I could find enjoyment in washing the dishes, planning my diet, going to the gym, brushing my teeth, carving out time for prayer and meditation, or other regular tasks that need attending? What would happen if I approached taking care of myself as a privilege? What would happen if I opened my eyes to the fact that I’m healthy and strong, and well on the road to being healthier and stronger?

What would happen if I really stopped to appreciate the steps I do take daily? What if I showed (and shared) my gratitude for this amazing thing called life? I’m not sure I know the answer, although I have some ideas about how it might be.

Yesterday at the gym, I ran faster than I have since I was a kid. (Don’t get too excited. I still haven’t run very far, but I’m getting there.) That feeling of my legs pumping, my lungs working, of being alive—it’s invigorating, and addicting. So I decided on at least one goal: to run a mile. It hasn’t happened yet, not since running cross country in high school, um, three decades ago. But I can’t wait to get there.

I’ve been doing a thing called a box jump. That’s where you jump up onto a box. The first time I tried it, I couldn’t actually force myself to jump. It’s the damndest thing. The fear of barking my shins, tripping over the box, breaking my face on the edge of the box, stuff like that—all of it stopped me cold. But I keep trying, and the other day I had a breakthrough. I jumped on the box a bunch of times in a row! And that is the feeling I love—doing something that I couldn’t do before. Getting stronger. Feeling stronger.

So in terms of my health and fitness goals, it’s been a fantastic start to 2016! Woot woot! See you at the gym.

Have you made New Year’s resolutions about health and fitness? How do you stay motivated? I’d love to hear from you, at 505-286-1212, leota@lobo.net, or by joining my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!”