The holidays have passed, winter is officially here, and now many people are reflecting on their experiences throughout 2012, as well as their aspirations for the year ahead. Sometimes this involves setting a New Year’s resolution, but for many people (including myself) these goals never seem to last. This inspired me to find a new way of looking at the goals I would like to achieve for improved health and wellness in the New Year.
I recently completed a 21 Day Meditation Challenge: Creating Abundance hosted online by Deepak Chopra. It was a great experience that strengthened my meditation habits, but more impactful was the realization that you can do something meaningful for yourself with just 15-20 minutes. From this experience mixed with my desire to reach some of my personal goals for health and wellness, 20 Minutes A Day Can Change Your Life was born.
20 Minutes A Day Can Change Your Life
This is a yearlong project I will be experimenting with and writing about each month on this blog. The idea is that each month I will choose an area to focus on, such as exercise, organization, meditation, creative pursuits, etc, and then dedicate myself to that for 20 minutes every day for the month. This is an active process, so it is important to choose something you DO instead of something you restrict or don’t do. The hope is that doing something for 30 days will set a healthy habit that can be maintained even when the topic changes for the next month. I see this as a way to slowly build up several healthy habits throughout the year that will improve well-being. Making major lifestyle changes can be daunting, but when I think about doing something just 20 minutes a day, it seems realistic. For me it comes down to priorities and making time for what matters.
The area I am choosing to begin with is EXERCISE. There are so many areas I am looking forward to spending more time on, but I wanted to start with the one that is most important to me. Exercise is something that I have struggled to make a habit of for many years. I think it is so important for physical and emotional health, and I really want to start the year off focusing on this area of myself. I welcome you to join me in this project. You can do the activities that I am doing each month, or create your own that are meaningful to you.
Tips for Getting Started
- Identify the best time of day for you to exercise
- Make a list of several methods of exercise available to you this time of year
- Switch up your routine if you find yourself getting bored
- Tell friends and family about your goals so they can be supportive
- Use a timer
- Try to enjoy your 20 minutes even if it is difficult
- Positive affirmations are really helpful, such as: “I am taking care of my body”, or “I am making the time for my health and well-being.”
- Most importantly, DO YOUR BEST. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and remember that each day is a new day. It is never too late to start something healthy!
January 2013 Progress & Updates
We are officially one week into 20 Minutes A Day Can Change Your Life, and so far it has been a successful start to the New Year. One challenge I have had to work through is not having a consistent workout schedule due to my work schedule changing day to day and week to week. I have managed this by planning my workout schedule one day in advance, and so far this has worked well.
I am already noticing the benefits of exercising for 20 minutes a day. I have noticed an increase in my general energy level, feeling accomplished for meeting the goals I have set, and feeling more empowered to take care of my health and body. I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to make time for exercise, which I believe is related to clearly expressing my intention (to myself and to the world) and deciding within myself that exercise is a priority. Basically, I have given exercise my focused attention and intention, therefore I have been very mindful of creating the time to exercise. This experience has only strengthened my belief that our minds create our reality, and highlights the power of what we can accomplish through mindful living.
Below is a brief log of my day to day exercise activities:
I worked out on the elliptical first thing in the morning. I’m ready to start this New Year focused on my health!
Today I exercised at my office in the afternoon. I like exercising in the middle of the day, it keeps my energy up.
Today I exercised on the elliptical while dinner was cooking in the oven. I wasn’t sure how I would like exercising in the evening, but this worked out well.
Today was one of the most fun days of exercising. While dinner was cooking, I turned on some of my favorite music and danced in the living room. Dance has been my favorite past time for most of my life, and I always love making time to dance!
Today it was slightly warmer outside, so I decided to go mountain biking on some trails. I ended up exercising today for over an hour, which felt great and so did being outside. I view anything over 20 minutes as a bonus!
Today was my first day of not completing my goal. As I was preparing to go to sleep, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to exercise. It just wasn’t in my awareness today. I didn’t feel upset or frustrated. Instead I acknowledged how great I have done so far, accepted that I missed a day, and just focused on the next day to make sure I would get back in the groove tomorrow. Great experience!
I worked out in the morning today to ensure getting back on track with my goals. Great way to start the week too!
I really enjoy exercising in the morning; it just starts my day on a healthy note. The elliptical is my go to exercise because I feel like my body really responds well to cardio. I’m grateful that a family member gave this elliptical to me a few years ago!
Today I decided to switch things up, so I tried a 20 minute Pilates DVD that I have had for years and never tried. I really enjoyed it and it was great for strengthening and toning. I am going to keep Pilates in my exercise repertoire!
Today I went back to my elliptical work out, but exercised in the evening this time. While I enjoy exercising in the morning, I also find benefits from exercising in the evening. It is a nice time to reflect on your day, bring your attention back to your body, and for making some time for yourself before moving on the household responsibilities.
Today was by far my favorite day in January. It was 50 degrees outside and just absolutely beautiful. This day inspired me so much, I wrote a separate post about it. If interested, click here. For exercise, went to a local park and walked for about an hour. It was so peaceful and I remembered how much I enjoy exercising outside. I’m really looking forward to spring, but am grateful for every beautiful day we have! I hope everyone got a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather today.
The weekends have proven alittle harder for me to stay on my routine. It was after dinner sometime when I realized I hadn’t exercised. Part of me thought it would be okay to miss another day, but then I looked at how much time I still had this evening and so I made the conscious choice to exercise on the elliptical before anything else. Once I completed the 20 minutes, I felt glad that I had pushed myself. This experience reminded me just how short 20 minutes really is, and yet how powerful that 20 minutes can be towards creating healthy habits.
Today was another day where exercise wasn’t my main focus and I once again considered skipping today. I was watching a movie and realized I can exercise right here. So I continued watching my movie, set a timer, and moved to the floor where I completed a series of Pilates exercises. This was another nice reminder that exercise can be integrated into your daily life.
Today I exercised on the elliptical first thing in the morning. I like starting the week with morning exercises!
I can’t believe we are already half way through January! It feels great to be meeting this goal everyday and I am beginning to notice feeling healthier and more connected to my body.
Pilates seems to be a nice alternative to more intensive cardio workouts. I’ve noticed that I prefer Pilates on days I am feeling less energetic.
Sit-ups, push-ups, stairs, and Pilates were a great way to work out in the middle of the day.
Back to the elliptical today.
I had a full schedule today and missed my goal. I remember thinking in the morning that it would be best to exercise first thing since I knew my day would be busy, but I didn’t leave enough time. This was a great experience for really remembering that I am in control of how I spend my time, and next time I hope to make the time for a morning workout.
Today I exercised first thing in the morning – This really helps me get back on track after missing a day.
The elliptical is one of my favorite ways to get cardio.
Alternating days of elliptical and Pilates seems to be becoming a pattern.
Back to the elliptical. I am noticing how the time is going really fast and I can tell my body is used to the 20 minute work outs now.
I’m not sure what happened today, but I missed my goal again. I had plenty of time to exercise at various times throughout the day. I kept saying to myself, “oh, I’ll exercise at this time” and when that time arrived, something else had grabbed my attention. By the end of the evening, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to go to sleep early and just start fresh again tomorrow.
A good night’s sleep did alot of good. I woke up energetic and achieved my goal through a combination of dancing, Pilates, and a few minutes on the elliptical.
Rather than finish my log for these last few days (which just goes back and forth between the elliptical and Pilates), I thought I would recap how the month went. Throughout the past 31 days, I have noticed my body becoming stronger, the time going faster, and a real sense that I have instilled a new pattern in my daily life. I’m pleased with my success, and I hope to continue exercising 4-5 times per week as I move on to a new topic in February.