I hate exercise but I want to be strong. Conundrum! Here's the mental tweak that helps me get what I want...

So I’m doing this move-my-body-everyday-for-10-days challenge, and let me tell you, it is SO TERRIBLE.

People have made kind and wise suggestions about ways I can make exercise more fun, more enjoyable, and maybe have a sliiiiightly better attitude toward the whole thing.

But they should give me up as a lost cause.

Because I still hate the whole effing thing.

My favorite form of exercise is reading. My favorite sport is sleeping. My idea of a good workout is a leisurely stroll to the bistro, where I will savor a giant meal and a bottle of wine and good conversation.

But reader.

I have to confess something to you.

It’s embarrassing.

Are you ready?

I want to be strong.

Like, Wonder Woman, Sun in Sens8, superhero badass strong. I want to be SO STRONG for my life. I want to be able to kick the shit out of any bad guys that might come my way. I want to lift a car up off my kids if it comes to it.

However. I’m more puny than strong. I struggle opening jars. Also sometimes bags of chips. I can beat my kids in arm wrestling but only because their arms are still made of toothpicks.

Over the years, I’ve worked a lot on my emotional and spiritual strength. (That became Practical Magic for Secret Mystics.) I’ve worked hard to learn how to move through the world like a total badass in the business, entrepreneurial, and grown-up worlds. (The tools that helped most are in my EFBA Toolkit.) I’ve worked SO HARD over the years to learn to grapple with the baffling physical world and wrestle order and even beauty out of it. (Hello, Queen Sweep!)

But my body? My actual physical self?

Hmmmmm. I was too busy for that. Also every time I’ve undertaken any body-related endeavor, it’s resulted in some form of humiliation. (Volleyball. Kickball. Running. Hold me.)

So I would have told you that I just didn’t really exercise.

EXCEPT I MISSED SOMETHING, shrewd reader.

You see, I’ve always lived in cities. For years I tromped all over Tokyo, up and down a dozen subway stairs just to get to work and home, carrying home bags of groceries on foot. Then all over Portland, to school and back twice a day, to the coffee shop, to the market to grab something, Monday morning stair hikes with my mama friends where we breathed hard but not so hard that it stopped us from talking about All The Things.

But that’s not really exercise— that’s just getting places.

(There was one brief period, when things were excruciatingly hard in my life, when I’d put on my sneakers and walk/run myself right up into the forest behind our neighborhood, staggering until my chest hurt so badly that I could cry and hurl stones into the stream and let some of my fear and sadness pour off of me.

But that was the anomaly. Once life got easier again, I left those grueling walks behind and went back to my city strolling.)

I thought of myself as someone who just didn’t really exercise very much, though I did like a walk around the neighborhood after dropping my kiddo off at school in the morning to clear my head or catch up with a friend.

But then I moved to the suburbs.

Where we walk exactly Nowhere.

No, that’s not true. I walk 25 feet out my front door to climb into my minivan. Then I walk maybe another 40 feet from the minivan to the big box stores where they hide all the food and the pretty things.

And that, dear friends, is about all the walking I did the first 10 months I lived here.

AND IT SHOWED.

It showed on my belly, mostly.

It turned out that all that casual leisurely city walking had had more of an effect than I realized. I just didn’t know it until I went without it and I watched my body morph before my very eyes. I wrote last week about my mom jean epiphany, how my belly was bulging over the waistband.

I was out of breath by the time I got to the top of the stairs with a basket of laundry. When I lugged one of our toddlers around on my hip, I kept having to switch sides or cajole them into a perch.

I felt like a weakling. I didn’t like it.

So now I’m moving my body every day, for ten days, to give myself a little jumpstart.

I don’t really like that either.

But sometimes we have to do things that don’t feel joyful in order to get to the joy.

Now just in case you missed it, I want to point out that I just committed life coach heresy right there. This is NOT the party line. The party line is that you can find a joyous, easy, pleasurable way to make every change you want in your life. That striving and pushing is not the way to find your path to joy.

And sometimes that’s true.

But sometimes? Especially when you’re shifting something that’s been ingrained for a while?

It takes a bit of push. It stings a little. You will moan and groan and whine and swear.

But that’s ok!!!

That’s how we build muscle and turn ourselves into the strong, fierce epic fucking badasses that we were born to be.

Now just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that every moment of your life should be full of toil and struggle. Oh hell no. I’m all about making life gorgeous, the power of the #blissconspiracy, and injecting pleasure and celebration into our lives every which way we can.

But it’s a myth to think that you can shift big dynamics in your life just by meditating, or envisioning, or (lord help us) manifesting. We have these muscles— physical, mental, emotional, badass— for a reason.

So that’s why when you’re trying to build new muscle, it’s best to start SMALL.

When you’re trying to build new muscle, it’s best to start SMALL. Click To Tweet

Listen, my daily #moveeverydaychallenge workouts are only workouts in the loosest sense of the word. As in, they are workouts only in the sense that they involve a lot more movement than sitting on the couch eating hummus and pretzel chips. To someone who works out regularly, they are piddly, measly, puny, ridiculous beyond belief.

But to me????

They represent HUGE progress.

And this is the part no one ever talks about. They never talk about the fact that the biggest transformations in your life will often start from a teeny tiny embarrassingly small action that is too embarrassing to even mention.

The biggest transformations start with teeny tiny actions too embarrassing to even mention. Click To Tweet

But since I make a habit of embarrassing myself on the internet on the regular, I’m sharing mine.

My big challenge right now, where I’m really pushing myself, is to move my body in tiny ways, every day, for ten days. Just that. Then we’ll see what comes next.

Some days I lace up my sneakers and do a hard-breathing walk around the pond (I’m too out of shape to run). Other days I grab my little weights and dance around my bedroom naked to a couple of loud, cheesy songs, and call it a day. Yesterday I strolled all over the shopping mall in my high-heeled espadrilles, and remembered how great heels were for calf definition back in the day, and I called it done.

So I’m hardly Abby Wambach. (More of a Glennon, in fact, in all the ways.) But compared to how little exercise I’ve consistently gotten for the past year???? This is HUGE progress!!!

So here’s my charge to you.

What is one small daily change you can commit to? The trick is, you have to make it SO EASY that it’s easier to just DO it and be done than to suffer the guilt of not doing it. This is a trick we use a lot in my Queen Sweep program, and everyone always resists it at first. No no, they insist, they need to work on their stacks of paper for at least an HOUR a day! Maybe two!!!

But I am mean and strict and cruel and will only let them do it for FIVE MINUTES A DAY at first.

They all think this is the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard in their life. But then they do it one time, and it’s pretty painless. Just five minutes. And then they do it again the next day, because it really didn’t hurt that bad, and then the same thing the next day, and before you know, they’ve built a new habit muscle!!!  And once you’ve built that muscle nice and strong, you’ll find that suddenly tackling something for an hour or three isn’t nearly as hard as it was.

But FIRST, you have to start small, and build muscle slowly, or you’ll just hurt yourself.

Because here’s a strange truth.

I was talking to someone about morning rituals yesterday, and something popped out of my mouth that surprised me. I said,

“Better a 60-second morning ritual that you do EVERY day than a 60-minute one you only do twice a month.”

Better a 60-second ritual EVERY day than a 60-minute ritual twice a month. Click To Tweet

And that’s absofuckinglutely true. Tiny actions taken consistently will yield more than big actions taken sporadically. I hate this, incidentally. But it just is.

So tell me, dearheart.

What new, teeny tiny, embarrassingly small habit could you commit to?

Five minutes. Two minutes. THIRTY SECONDS. No joke.

Those teensy teensy shifts are big levers that just might change everything.

So come tell me over on Facebook—I honestly want to know.

much love,

Anna

P.S. I’m chronicling my daily “uuuuggghhhs” and “I diddddd its” of my 10-day challenge over on Instagram if you want to join me, plus sharing ridiculous behind-the-scenes videos of our family’s escapades over on Instagram stories if you want a little dose of daily encouragement and goofiness!