How I learned to enjoy exercise
Living in Phoenix, Arizona in 1994 (50 years old), I was becoming acutely aware of how my lack of rigorous activity was leading me towards an unhealthy and unenergetic future me. I felt guilty. I felt anxious. I even felt some shame. But I procrastinated on doing anything about it.
Examining this problem more deeply than I had before, I asked myself, “What benefits are you getting from not exercising?” It dawned on me that exercise did not occur to me as an attractive, enjoyable activity. It occurred as hard and difficult. The benefits were that I got to avoid doing doing something that occurred as hard and difficult. Very good benefits.
This led to a new question, “How could I enjoy the process of exercising?” The answer wasn’t immediately obvious. I kept thinking of different types of exercise and different ways of doing them (like going to the gym or jogging), but none were attractive to me. But I kept asking the question; I kept brainstorming with myself.
Eureka! The solution was so exciting. When it occurred to me, I knew that it would work. I lived a ten-minute drive away from Camelback Mountain. I enrolled four different friends (on a standard day of the week for each friend) to meet me at the base of Camelback at 6.30 in the morning. Together we would climb the mountain (not to the top, but turning around at a point where our total climbing up/down time was about 75 minutes). As we climbed we talked, enjoying each others’ words and company.
I had found a way to enjoy the process of exercising. Dwight-Next (the part of me concerned about my future) was happy because I was getting good exercise for a healthy future. Dwight-Now (the part me concerned about just enjoying now) was happy because he was having fun now, he was having fun with the process.
Procrastinating on exercise was a thing of the past! Not only was it easy to get started immediately on my new exercise program (climbing Camelback with my friends), it was also a piece of cake.