Jul 19, 2011

The very best "Real Exercise"

Over the last few months, I've been thinking about the concept of exercise for the sake of exercise. For me, this includes going to the gym, getting up early to walk and/or run, doing counter push-ups and squats while working, stuff like that. This exercise is really anything that we do not because it's necessarily fun, and not because it helps us accomplish something that I had to do anyway, but just because we need exercise.

So, in contrast to this "exercise for the sake of exercise," there is also what I call "Real Exercise." This is any exercise that you get because you're doing something that either needed to be done, because it is fun to do, ot just because it is part of your everyday life. For me, this includes mowing the grass, hiking up a mountain at work (if you are lucky like me and have this kind of thing as one of your duties), digging a ditch at work, biking to the store to get flour, playing volleyball at a church picnic... and I discovered the most awesome and rewarding "Real Exercise" yesterday: playing chase with my kids.

Last night when I was outside pushing the kids on swings in my mother-in-law's pristine back yard, Tayan and Zene asked me to play "jail." We ended up running around that yard like children while memories came flooding into my mind of playing chase with the neighborhood kids 25 years ago. I remembered bossing other kids around, explaining the rules of Hide & Seek and Freeze Tag... showing off how I knew how to use the term "Ready or not, here I come!" It was amazing, and not only was I as close as humanly possible to living  through my 7-year-old body, but I was also getting some amazing cardio.

When I'm running for exercise, I never get the feeling that there's a giggling, tickling policeman behind me who might catch me and take me to fake jail. Because of this, when I'm running for exercise, I never really attempt to run as fast as I possibly can, never digging my toes into the soft grassy ground and lifting my knees like a sprinter just out of the block... but last night, I was doing just that. Never when I'm running for exercise have I gotten to the point where I was trying so hard to move quickly forward, and my legs have become so exhausted, that I nearly fell on my face while trying to speed up--last night, that happened. Because I am not a 7-year old, we had to have 3 separate sessions of playing chase with hefty breaks in between. But three separate times last night, I became sweaty, exhausted, and overjoyed at exercising and playing hard with my kids. All three of us were elated.

The most important thing I got out of last night's running session with my kids was not the sore quads that I most certainly do have today. The most important thing I got out of it was a sense that "this is what it has all been for." This is what I lost 65 pounds to be able to do. I can play with my kids, not just a little bit... not just enough to push them in their swings, but I can actually play with them, on their level. It is the most amazing feeling, and I never want to lose it. As they grow, their tastes in exercise will change... they will become more interested in the things that I also like... maybe running, definitely biking and playing sports. For now though, we can run around the yard on a hot humid summer night, laughing and falling down together. It is no doubt the very best kind of "Real Exercise" that I can do.

Jul 5, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi was a wise man

Not sure if you knew this or not, but Gandhi was a really wise man.  I love so much of what he has said, and I really need to read more of his work. The quote of his that has become my mantra is "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." The quote says so much that speaks to me. It begins with "You must..." I love that it is a command. I'm a person who loves to take commands from people whom I respect. If I believe in you and you lead, I will follow. Also, the quote is so simple: everyone knows what they wish was different in the world--so be that. Be it, and be an example for others to be it, too. 

This morning I was reading The Positivity Blog post entitled Gandhi's Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World, and Gandhi's quote that really grabbed me was: 

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

This is so simple, yet I for one never would have thought of it. "Happiness is..." Whatever follows that is a bold statement, because pretty much our whole adult lives we're trying to find happiness, trying to sustain it for longer than a few minutes or hours at a time. Of course, I'm certain that Gandhi's quote isn't the whole truth of happiness--but it is a great observation of happiness.

One morning last week I was clearly unhappy. Even 3 year old Zene asked me 20 minutes into our day what was wrong with me. I gave him a curt answer and he ran crying to his room. Poor kid. I knew even then that the reason I was unhappy that morning is because I woke up early, I knew I should get up and go walk or run or bike... and I continued to just lie there. Not because I was tired, just because I didn't get up. What I was thinking and what I was doing weren't in harmony. 

Today I woke up with my alarm. I was wide awake, and I got that feeling that I really needed to go. I heeded my thoughts, and took Lupin for a lovely brisk walk on this muggy July morning. We wore ourselves out. And the proof of Gandhi's words is in this pudding: I've felt great all morning! 

So keep in mind Gandhi's wisdom. Maybe his quote isn't the most complete definition of what "Happiness is...", but it can more certainly be said that your thoughts, words, and actions must be in harmony in order to approach happiness.