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I went for a run today. A totally joyful and spontaneous dash through the streets of my neighborhood. The sun was shining. The air was brisk. Dogs were barking. And what started out as a you-really-should-do-this walk to get away from the desk for a much needed break (hey, the sun’s shining, Trish – you haven’t moved in hours – nudge nudge) became a energetic romp in the sun. So what changed? How did I go from ho hum about moving to woo hoo? And, more importantly, how can you bring more joy to your daily workout (or walk about)?

I used to run. Daily. I was like a postman – neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night kept me from my run. And I loved it. I even looked forward to it. Until I hated it. Then I stopped. I took up roller blading instead. It is easier on the knees and I can’t put the things on without feeling twelve. But lately I’ve noticed that I day dream about running. Not chalking up miles on my fancy watch, or posting race results on Facebook, or even looking like some girl in a Nike ad. But running as an act. Legs moving, arms swinging. It feels free to me. The very thought of running feels free.

That’s what today’s run felt like. Free. All I did was follow my body’s lead. Once I realized, “Hey, I feel like running,” I ran. I ran until I felt like stopping then I stopped and walked, and when I felt like running again, I ran. I did this with no timer and no destination in mind. I didn’t think about calories burned, or what it was doing for my metabolism, or how this would impact aikido class later. I did it strictly for the fun of it. Everything else is a bonus.

So, how can you bring more joy to your daily workout?

1. Listen to your body. I know, I say this all the time. But it’s key in figuring out what’s going on with you. It takes practice, patience, and sometimes help to figure out what it’s saying. If you want some specific coaching on this, contact me. I’ve got some great tools to help you learn to tune in to what matters.

2. Figure out what you like. We spend so much time doing what we think we should do, that we often forget what we actually like to do. I like to roller blade. I’m not sure if a woman over forty should roller blade. Heck, I imagine someone could give you a list of reasons not to (starting with looking silly), but I don’t care. I like it. It brings me joy. I do it.

So – what brings you joy? What do you like to do? How do you like to move your body? Body’s are made to move, so even if you initially think, “I don’t,” go deeper. There’s a reason NASA’s willing to pony up $18000 to get people to stay in bed for 15 weeks. And there’s a reason folks like me aren’t taking them up on it. It’s going to be difficult. It’s not going to be healthy. It’s going to be working against the very way your body was built. Think about staying still for 15 weeks. Really think about. How does you body feel? How soon does it itch to move? Doesn’t take long, does it?

Imagine different ways to move your body. Which ones make you light up inside? Pick one and get moving.

3. Change your scene. If you’re forcing yourself to the gym, move your workout outside. If you’re outside, take it inside. Check out a new class, a new instructor, or simply a new dvd. Just change it up a little and see if that makes you a wee bit happier.

4. Change your internal dialogue. If you’re stuck on “I gotta…” “I should…” “I have to…” do one of the things outlined above – and do it soon (like your next workout soon). Finish this sentence: “I get to…” Imagine what would feel good at the end of that sentence. What feels joyful, or calming, or adventurous? It might be taking the night off. If that’s what comes to mind and your entire body seems to nod in agreement, go ahead and do it. If something else comes to mind – like swimming, or dancing, power lifting, or hiking with the dog – do that instead of today’s planned workout. And see how you feel – both during and after.

Let me know how you bring more joy to your workout in the comments section below.

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