By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
All right, DreamChasers, I have a confession to make. I have a bad attitude when it comes to exercise. It is one area that I struggle keeping my mindset in the positive and possible. I find myself thinking of exercise as a commitment, a task to complete, a “have to” and not a “get to”. My inner monologue, and perhaps my actual voice, is pretty whiney about it, too. It is no coincidence that this negative and fixed mindset ruins my efforts at making exercise a permanent habit in my life.
I have to ask, does anyone else feel this way? Or is it just me?
During my failures, I have found some strategies that help, particularly the more fun and variety I can bring into exercising, the better. Switching things up, especially when I start to feel dread or boredom, is crucial for me to continue my quest to make exercise just what I do, which is just another way to describe a habit. But, that dang exercise continues to slip back into obligation and “have to”; I haven’t quite hit on the perfect way to maintain my positive mindset.
That is, until recently. An unexpected blessing from the stressing of virtual learning may have given me the key. Per the usual, it was so very, very simple. When you need a new belief, you need a new story to tell yourself. The story of exercise being a “have to” is so deeply ingrained in my brain that a new story was needed to change my belief! Because sharing is caring, I want to share my new phrase for exercise with you in case you are in this same struggle cycle.
Cue the drumroll...ta da da daaaa!!! Exercise is out, recess is in! That’s right, I now refer to exercise as recess, and it has been a difference maker! This was totally an accident. During a warm spring day during virtual learning, I told my kids, who were getting a little squirrely, that they had 10 minutes to get ready because we were going outside for recess. We went outside for our first of many daily walks, weather permitting. These have been joyful, full of interesting discussions, cool discoveries, and snapping colorful pictures using Liam’s InstaMax polaroid camera. As an aside, a polaroid camera has been a good life lesson to learn the value of taking that one special photo that you can’t just delete.
It was midway through one of these recess breaks that it hit me...recess is the epitome of fun! Hear me out a second. What comes to mind when you think of recess? For me, I think of swinging, playing kickball, four square, fifteen minutes of total freedom and fun with a capital F before settling back into schoolwork. If you haven’t observed a recess break in a while, it appears as complete chaos at first glance but there is one thing in common with all these busy little bees running around the playground...fun while exercising. Here’s the kicker...no kid ever considers recess time exercise, right? It’s straight up fun, even when the exertion is evident by hot, sweaty faces and long lines at the water fountain...or is it a bubbler?
That’s when it hit me...the difference maker ah-ha moment! I proudly proclaimed for all the world to hear that from now on, exercise would only be referred to as recess. Since this was mid-quarantine, my proclamation only extended to my 3 kids and husband but that did not lessen my enthusiasm! The minute I catch myself thinking exercise, I immediately replace it with “recess time”! This simple little phrase brings all the happiness, joy, and fun from recesses gone by flooding into my brain resulting in, get this, excitement to go get my move on.
I am a self-proclaimed science nerd. That flood of happiness is a real, physiologic reaction going on inside my body. Thinking about the fun and joyful time that recess brought releases the mood-elevating chemicals in your body called endorphins into your bloodstream. This is literally like happiness flowing throughout your system! This, DreamChasers, is why exercise is out and recess is in; it makes it so much more enjoyable, not to mention easier, to stick with my commitment to exercise when I am already in the fun zone.
This is an awesome example of combining the power of a mindset reset and habits. As a quick refresher, habits are automatic behaviors that the brain develops to be more efficient. When your brain notices a repetitive series of behaviors, it can develop into a habit. This allows you to do the behavior on autopilot, which then allows the brain freedom to do something else. When used to your advantage, habits are a powerful strategy and tool to use to achieve your goals and dreams in life, DreamChasers. The key to using them, however, is you need to understand how they work. Once you have that understanding, watch out! Check out this past blog that dives into this topic: What’s the Deal with Habit? How Habits Work and How to Apply this Knowledge for Lasting Change in Your Life
My ultimate goal of exercising is to make it a habit in my life. I don’t dread it or feel obligated; I enjoy it, and it’s part of who I am. It’s something that I just do, more of a “why wouldn’t I exercise”. DreamChaser, as you dive into the self-discovery and personal growth pool, you will find that it all starts with your mindset; you can only achieve what you believe. Some beliefs are easier to change than others, and the ones that will make the biggest impact on your life take the biggest effort. That has been this mindset and attitude towards exercise for me, but, wow has it been different since I stopped exercising and started participating in recess! Keep failing and trying again at those dreams and goals, DreamChasers. The struggle is real at times but it will be worth it!
In the meantime, I have no idea if pink is the new black but recess is the new exercise. Whether you struggle with exercise or love it, try out the mindset reset that exercise is recess and see how that makes you feel. Correct your inner monologue when the word exercise pops into your mind or comes out your mouth and replace it with recess. It has been almost 2 months since I switched this vocabulary. Getting my move on consistently has never been easier or more fun. And, that is what living your best life is all about!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.