Before the sunlight even begins to shine my alarm is ringing. I walk across the room turn to off the sound only to return to my warm bed under the covers. Five minutes later another alarm begins sounding. This time as I am turning the impatient alarm off, the smell of coffee has made its way up the stairs into my bedroom. Morning rhythms are calling. I put on my sweatshirt and slippers. My early morning companion, a 9.5-year-old cockapoo named Alvin, and I make our ways downstairs. The coffee smells so inviting.
It is about 10 degrees cooler downstairs, the result of leaking windows in the rental house. But at least we have heat. I open the door for Alvin to go out, the wind is crisp as whips around the side of the house. Yes, very thankful for heat and walls and a roof!
Alvin comes back inside to his morning meal. I have filled my coffee cup and made a breakfast for myself. I head to my spot on the loveseat. It is the perfect spot to snuggle into for reading and journaling. Warmth and security meets me again as I sip my coffee and open my mind and heart. Some days I want to stay in this spot on the loveseat for the rest of the day.
As I sit I begin to get uncomfortable. My muscles are begging for readjustment in my posture. My body is telling me I have been inactive for long enough. My blood longs to flow vigorously. My thoughts are often not at the same point my body is.
We could read more under this blanket and sip more warm coffee.
But by now, I cannot ignore the discomfort from lack of movement.
Back upstairs I go to change into my workout clothes. The small amount movement walking up the stairs begins the adrenaline.
I change. No need for a sweatshirt to stay warm, my body is looking forward to the celebration of being alive and able to move!
I turn on the TV, pick the workout that is next in the exercise program I am following, this is when the mental game starts. My brain is working against me. “My muscles are really tight. Maybe today should be a rest day.” “Ugh I hate cardio.” “Weights sound so hard today.” “Yoga is so much upper body. I just don’t feel like it.” But the habit I have created in exercising 6 days out of the week takes over. My thoughts finally concede as the intro music begins, “Just do it. You will feel worse if you don’t.”
The movement has become essential for my days. The type of movement doesn’t really make much of a difference. As my muscles flex and stretch. My heart rate increases. My breathing is faster and deeper. Oxygen rich blood flows with increased pressure nourishing the smallest areas of my body. There it is, the aliveness I was looking for. It only takes the length of the warm up.
For the next 30 minutes, I am moving with intention. As the trainer demonstrates the exercise, I mirror the movement. I am thinking about my muscles flexing. I am comparing the movement from the week before. I am focused on my posture, core, form. As I fatigue, mental walls begin to tear down. I become my own cheerleader. “You are doing great.” “You have come so far, don’t stop until it is done.” “Drop set, but don’t stop.”
The affirmations I am speaking to myself are things I would say to anyone. But so often I spend time during the day talking down to myself or competing with my make-believe ideal. These positive statements remind me that I am a person capable of completing a task. I am a person who is strong. I am a person who has struggled, but that past struggle isn’t going to stop me, it is going help me today and in the future.
As the cool down portion of the workout begins, I am filled with gratitude for another reason to think positively of myself. And these thoughts are not related to my size or the way I look. My thoughts are of who I am as a human. My heart rate is up increasing the blood flow to my brain and the steady movement of my body allows by mind to slow. I am able decipher the difference between truth and lies. My thinking is clearer. I notice every muscle’s action and counteraction as I stretch. Movement is intentional. Every breath is deliberate. Filling my lungs with air, followed by exhaling as I stretch the muscle further. The discomfort and tightness I felt before the workout are absent. My muscles are fatigued from the exercises but are ready for the day.
My girls have come out of their rooms by the time I am completely finished. It is time for mom to be fully on-the-clock. There is just one thing left to do. Take a picture to share with other people who exercise the way I do. It is accountability in being intentional. When you change one part of your life for the positive, you will see effects of that positive change in other areas of your life. But just because they are there doesn’t mean they are a natural rhythm for you, so accountability is a great way to keep yourself intentional to maintain those rhythms.
Not everyone’s days and rhythms look like mine, but I encourage you to find what works for you. Where in your life could you be intentional about doing something life giving for you?