Last year around this same time, I wrote about and posted on Keen Living at about how I started an exercise routine and how to start your own – see January 16, 2020 post for more.  What a difference a year makes…no longer am I a gym member due to the restrictions of COVID-19, and at some point these past couple of months I stopped doing my morning exercise routine.  But guess what? First, I have persevered personally and started back on the morning routine recently.  Second, I found running and walking outside even better than club membership.  Third, I enjoy doing yoga classes online at my convenience wherever I want.  

First, perseverance is the only way I have found to tackle exercise as a daily habit.  The best example of this need to persevere is found in my morning routine.  I have written and posted about the power that takes over when a healthy habit is disrupted – check July 31, 2020 post to read more.  But, I completely re-experienced this power of disruption and went off my routine cold turkey at some point a couple months ago.  I don’t know exactly when or why, but I realized it.  I recognized that I should get back to it, but I was stuck again with having derailed from my streak of the routine.  That’s probably ridiculous, but it’s true.  How many of us set lofty goals for ourselves in all areas of life and when we don’t attain them or stay successful at them, do we get down or disappointed?  I know I do!  I think I needed to have more compassion with myself.  I can let myself down and still care about my own feelings.  I know I would care about a friend’s feelings in the same situation whatever the disappointment is.  I would try to lift her up!  I would try to encourage her!  But why does negative self-talk always seem to creep in with my own disappointments or failures?  However it is that we can have more compassion for ourselves and find the strength to persevere through those feelings to start over, we have to find that place.  For me, I find reading wellness articles, writing my feelings out in a journal, and praying to God, all are musts on the road of perseverance.  Now that I have a few days under my belt with re-starting my morning routine of a sun salutation, sit-ups (50), and push-ups (20), I feel better.  There is something great about starting the day with accomplishments whatever they may be.  They are signs of perseverance that propel me to address bigger life issues every day with self-compassion and positivity.

Second, I am so grateful for running and walking outside.  Countless times throughout this past year, I have been lifted up by meeting a friend to run outside, walking while listening to an audiobook, meeting other families to walk outside for exercise/substitute for remote learning physical education class, and enjoying a conversation with my husband while walking to and from Starbucks – this happened once, but I am hoping to add to this count!  Overall, the mental health benefits of getting up and outside for any type of physical activity has been invaluable, especially with so many limits in place on where we can go and how we can socialize.  I even noticed on the scale that my muscle mass increased with increased walking!  I never have been one to think very highly of walking as a form of exercise, but I am a convert now.  That’s for sure.  I have seen the benefits, and I will be a walking machine for as long as my legs can do it.  I try for 3-5miles walking on a really good day, but I have literally taken a walk around my block and felt better for doing it.  It’s pretty incredible.  My favorite time to walk is in the morning because I often think afterward of this quote by Henry David Thoreau: 

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Now when I was younger, that would not have resonated with me one bit.  I can’t believe how time and the pandemic have changed me.  I couldn’t agree more now!  So many days over the past year, an early-morning walk has blessed my entire day!  Afterward, I truly feel like I am energized for the day, more focused, and stimulated to be creative and write.  So even though I do miss some group exercise class time at the gym, and my first love is still running, I would say I am a big believer now in the power of walking for exercise.

Third, before March 2019, I rarely if ever did yoga at home.  I had heard of online yoga classes, and had tried them once or twice, but never really thought too highly of them.  I much preferred yoga classes in person at the studio in my athletic club.  Once I was forced to find alternative outlets for yoga and stretching in general especially after running, I started trying yoga online.  First, I tried through a Les Mills online membership free from my gym during the shelter-in-place order, then by downloading the Peloton app for free for 90 days, and finally by subscribing to the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel.  I have enjoyed all of these services, but the one I have kept with and will keep using is the Yoga with Adriene.  Now first of all, it’s free.  So there’s that.  But secondly, these are great yoga classes tailored to specific areas of need bothphysically and mentally.  I have enjoyed pulling my yoga mat to the living room as well as the backyard to follow a Vinyasa flow class or Sunrise yoga.  Even though it is difficult at times to see the benefits of the pandemic, seeing a silver lining from time to time even in finding and following an online yoga class is definitely a way to make yourself see the bright side.

Overall, in each of these areas of exercise I find perseverance is necessary.  I know the purpose of my exercise is not only to stay healthy physically, but equally as important, mentally healthy.  With that purpose in mind, I recommend planning your exercise out on a daily or weekly basis, with attainable goals, and then pray for the fortitude to keep going!  The benefits of persevering in this area of life are longevity, health, and happiness.  And who doesn’t want any of those?

January 21, 2021

© 2021 Megan Davia Mikhail