I didn’t realize how stagnant I had become. For years I had played soccer and then when that came to an end after high school, I took up running and weight lifting. I would not be dissuaded from my routine (or I would become noticeably grumpy if anything did get in the way.) My first job out of college actually had a gym on site for employees and I would exercise on my 1-hour lunch breaks. Who needs food when you can run three miles, shower, and be back at your desk feeling like you’ve conquered the world? (As opposed to my desk job.. I could never convince myself I was moving mountains by data slicing all day.) By the way, I did eat lunch somewhere in the mix, I’ve never been a fan of starving myself. All was good in my exercise world. And then I entered the childbearing season of life. Years of consistent discipline melted into nothing. The truth was I felt guilty taking any more time away from my children with “selfish” exercising after I had already been away at work all day. I tried over the course of the next 12 busy years to get back on track but new little ones kept coming along just when I built up the motivation to try again.
Then a crafty limiting belief worked its’ way into my thinking. Here is what the snide little voice would whisper: you’ll never be in the excellent shape you were in before having four kids, why even try? The most you could accomplish would be mediocre at best, and forget running, you are way past that possibility. Tragic. Because I listened to that snarky voice for so long. If that wasn’t enough to keep me from ever exercising again, I felt a perpetual frustration because I never had enough time in the day as it was, as any person running their own business can attest to. Seriously, find another 30-45 minutes in my life to do something that I already feel defeated about before even starting?
If you’ve read my About Me post, you may recall that when my family learned about financial independence and determined to pursue our freedom, several financial limiting beliefs of mine were very quickly put on the executioner’s block (Yes, you can pay off cars and save enough to buy a vehicle outright next time, we are living that out. Yes, you can achieve a savings rate of over 50% even with four children, we are living that out. Retirement is not a mythical ideal that the average person has no hope of attaining, we have jetted past the average timeline and are now chartering a new and beautiful path.)
As a result of so many of my financial beliefs being challenged (with excellent results, I might add), I began to challenge that little voice in other areas. We were two years into our financial independence trek, things were more stable and hopeful than ever. Our hard work was being rewarded in true compounding fashion. At the start of 2019, I felt the revolution was ready to move past the ledgers and into the legs. In the frigid February chill, I laced up my (pretty old, beat up Nike shoes that I had only ever used for cutting the grass…) and went for a run. Well, a walk with a few minutes of running that nearly killed me because I had such poor lung capacity. But somehow I didn’t feel discouraged by that fact, and decided that just like with finances, I could relegate myself to failure, or I could try to improve a little bit every day and watch the results add up to more than I thought possible. It was happening with our money, why not with exercising?
As I mentioned in the first line of this post, I had no idea how stagnant everything in my physiology had become until it all came back to life. A vitality returned, coursing through my body as if a whirring propeller were going through all my arteries and blood was being allowed free-flow once again. In the process, I unlocked a virtuous cycle I hadn’t expected. I felt more alert, stress levels readily declined, and I became more productive in the time I did spend working. Here is where my limiting beliefs were really passed through the ‘grind’ setting. Putting in 30-45 minutes of exercise so significantly increased my productivity – especially because I was able to put that exercise window where I needed it the most (when I felt bored and like I was getting nowhere with my efforts to get more done). When I got back to work after that break, I was energized and the work got done. What a win-win! Your working hours may not be as flexible as mine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same transformative benefits that I have. If you feel like you’re under a ton of stress and pressure to get it all done, stop sweating it and start sweating it out. Optimal physical strength AND financial strength is as close as grinding your own limiting beliefs and pounding them into a neat pile of pulverized powder.
*Note that any exercise program should only be started after consulting with your physician. I am not a doctor, fitness trainer, or any other sort of health consultant and am only speaking from personal experience.