Habit Building: Exercise


I have a hate-hate relationship with exercise. Actually not true, when I’ve got a routine, I love it. Blood and endorphins pumping, feeling all sexy and stuff – it’s amazing. But when I’m out of routine… it’s hell. Like everyone, my reason for not getting enough exercise is “I’m busy.” The real reason is, it’s not a priority. What are my priorities then? Basically it goes like this.


May was full and fun, but it started off rocky in the exercise habit forming department. I didn’t have a plan or much of a routine. I began by committing to two “activities” (as a I fondly call them) per week. But my “activities” were not particularly challenging and did not exactly get me sweating or feeling inspired – walking to the coffee shop counts as exercise right? I desperately needed motivation to actually put effort into making a difference to my very sedentary life. I needed a goal to work toward, something that would scare me into action. Thanks to the subtle encouragement of my inspiring marathon running husband, that goal is now to complete a half marathon this year.

Once I had the goal, I rallied some friends to join in with me, because a problem shared is a problem halved…I chose three friends, each for different reasons.

The Truth Teller. I chose her because we are brutally honest with each other – she doesn’t take my crap excuses and I don’t take hers – it’s a beautiful thing. Reality is, she’s the one who would know about it all anyway, so I figured, why not get her doing it with me?

The Exciting One. I chose her (or she chose me, depending on how you look at it) because she’s the one who makes everything a party. She’s the one who makes you feel like what ever you are currently doing with her is the most important, wonderful and hilarious thing possible. Very important when what you’re doing is actually quite awful.

The Fit One. I chose her because she’s already fit and disciplined in this area and I would feel slightly intimidated by her skills if she wasn’t so gracious and sweet. She’s the one I’ve got to keep make sure I can keep up with!

We keep track of our progress (and each other’s) through a running app. Just this little thing got me running more and for longer. It also got me thinking about how much I challenge myself to go faster and harder. I’ve learned that I’m not that competitive with others, but I can be very competitive with myself. The app breaks down my pace by kilometre so I can see when I slack off and when I’m going strong. I’ve started to realise that my pace or effort is something I can adjust –  I can work harder and I can go faster than I think I can.

I used to run a lot in the past, but I’ve been out of the habit, so it’s not been easy getting back into it (especially on frigid winter mornings), so I made another commitment to help me get to my goal of running a half marathon… Bootcamp. As I write this, my arms are literally burning from a class TWO days ago. My body is in total SHOCK! I’ve got eight weeks of 5am workouts and long runs on the weekend and I’m actually really scared about it all! But I feel good about the decisions I’ve been making.

I have some weight I want to lose and I have some clothes I want to feel better in, but I feel like my real goal is to have an active lifestyle which challenges me mentally and physically and benefits my health long term. I don’t know what that looks like yet, (gym memberships? mix of classes? running? annual physical challenges? and oh my gosh diet? ) but I’m excited to find out.

Lessons learned:

  1. May felt like a journey or a process rather than a solid habit building time. Maybe that’s part of habit building, going though the process of discovering where you’re at and understanding why you want to make changes.
  2. Realising that the amount of effort I put in effects my results. I can go for a run and feel nothing because I didn’t push myself to go harder than I’m used to. I can even go to bootcamp and see no change unless I push myself as hard as I can go, rather than do what I think is acceptable.
  3. Having goals is important, when it comes to exercise – but it needs to be about more than what I weigh or my dress size. For me it has to be about my lifestyle and figuring out a long term plan or I’ll just peak and bail in 3 – 6 months time. I’m still working this stuff out, so please give me your suggestions if you have any!
  4. Getting the help of friends makes a big difference when you’re weak in an area. Real friends google all the worst things that could happen to people who run half marathons together, they cheer each others wins and challenge each other when it’s needed.
  5. Technology is the shiznick! Runkeeper and Breeze are two beautiful apps which help me to keep track of my runs and my daily steps (aiming for 10, 000/ day). I tried using a calorie counter app, but it bored me to tears (literally, I cried about it), so I still need to work out the diet side of things. But let’s just take a moment to be grateful for the amount of apps, ebooks, videos, gadgets, cookbooks etc out there designed specifically to help people like us build healthier lifestyles.

I feel pretty vulnerable about sharing this area of my life, because I’m not good at this stuff and I don’t know if I’ll get to the half marathon or see changes in my body or make those long term changes to my lifestyle, but I’m putting my trust in the process and I’m showing up.

June’s habit: Plan meals

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Comment from Brett - 13/06/2014 at

Excellent stuff. Vulnerability is courage. Love it. You will accomplish way more than you realise. :-)

Comment from Aziza - 13/06/2014 at

Thanks Brett! Yes, once you put it out there it always seems less daunting. Wish me luck :)