I’m a little nervous about posting this image of myself. That’s me swimming in the cold Colorado River at the bottom of Glen Canyon on 7/14/18.
But, having just turned 51 a few weeks before it was taken, I decided to post it as a belated birthday present to myself.
Am I a Show-Off?
Why am I nervous? I’m a little afraid you will think it’s inappropriate. Like I’m showing off or too proud.
But I posted it after realizing three things:
- As long as I know I’m not posting it solely to show off, so what if anyone else thinks that?
- As a newly minted 51 year old, so what if I want to show off a body that I’m proud of? And I am proud of it!
- I don’t have this body because I tried to achieve this body – and that’s really what I want to talk about in this post.
This body is the result of one thing, primarily: a commitment to a mere 30 minutes of anaerobic exercise per day, 5 days a week.
Plus, I also thought, there are undoubtedly people older than me with better bodies than this anyway.
I Usually Do More Than 30 – Because I Love It So Much
I now do more than 30 minutes at a time, usually, but not “achieve” this body. I do anaerobic exercise for longer than 30 minutes at a time because it feels fantastic and it helps me reconcile me with my emotions like nothing I’ve ever done.
I do not ride my body like a jockey riding a race horse, whipping it onward. I don’t push my body beyond what is safe for me either, chasing results. I simply spend 30 minutes (or more):
- Moving my body vigorously enough to lose my breath
- Reclaiming my breath while only slowing my movement as much as necessary
- Reclaiming my breath my focusing, first, on exhaling every single bit of carbon dioxide out of my lungs
- Once my breath is reclaimed, I repeat steps 1 – 3
The Key is to Invite Your Entire Body to the Party
Rather than whip my body forward, I invite each of its components, or muscle groups, to participate as fully as possible. Especially my lungs.
I learned, early on, that I first needed to find certain muscles before I began to use them intentionally (i.e. invite them to the 30 minute anaerobic party I was having). I am still discovering muscles to invite and I hope that continues for a long time.
I Do It For the Healing, Not the Body Shaping
The upshot of my approach is that I don’t exercise to achieve anything other than time spent in an anaerobic state. Being in an anaerobic state just happens to feel so good and help me reconcile myself so well, that I simply love it. Thus, I spend, on average, of 4 hours a week in an anaerobic state and that’s a huge part of why I have this body.
If I were exercising to have this body, however, I can almost guarantee you I’d have stopped long before it was achieved. Because of the anxiety that creates for me. Exercising to look good or lose weight simply is too results-focused for me and, eventually, I can’t take the pressure to perform or do my duty.
Any time I feel that performance anxiety arise today I merely remind myself that I’m not exercising to accomplish a certain pace or distance. I’m only doing it to spend a certain amount of time in an anaerobic state, following the 4 steps I shared above. Remembering that, I am almost always freed from the pressure of exercise that I have never enjoyed.
The Primary Benefit Is Not My Shape
Of course, as I mentioned, the primary reason I’ve increased my time exercising beyond my original 150 minute, weekly goal is how it allows me to reconcile myself emotionally. Ever heard of cognitive dissonance? That’s the discomfort, mental and physical, of having beliefs and actions out of alignment.
Cognitive dissonance is like an anchor around your neck because it’s insidiously easy to live with. After a while, the pain of cognitive dissonance starts to feel like the status quo or just the way things are.
I’m currently writing a “graduate course” for my game, Grow a Greater You. Based upon what I’ve been learning as I’ve reconciled myself in this way. In the meantime, be sure to learn about my 30-minute method of anaerobic exercise today.