The word “spring” makes me think about jumping rope and as the weather warms up here in the Northeast I have certainly been jumping more with the hope of jump roping another 5K in the next several months, but more importantly with the hope of getting back into decent physical condition.
But lately I’ve also been thinking about bigger and deeper questions pertaining to rope jumping. For example, what’s more important: jumping quality or jumping quantity? Should we focus more on the internal (e.g., sheer joy) or external rewards (e.g., weight loss) of jumping rope? Is it preferable to jump solo or in a communal setting? And if you have a great jumping session in the forest, but didn’t post a video or photo of it on Facebook or Instagram did it really ever happen? I’d love to hear your thoughts about these types of questions. I think what really perplexes me is this seemingly global trend to film oneself doing virtually everything and then post it for the world to see.
I certainly enjoy creating instructional videos so I can help others get the most out of jumping rope, but the idea of posting selfie videos and pics of me competing in a jump rope challenge doesn’t sit right with me. My initial thought is “who cares?” And my second thought is why are we so focused on competition and comparing ourselves with others? But obviously for many this is a fun pastime so I’d love to learn what they enjoy about it.
So if we stop striving for health and fitness ideals, does that mean we just lie on the couch, stuffing our faces with potato chips and slurping soda all day? Umm, yuck. And no.
What we can do is:
1) realize joy in who we are, where we are, and our intricate connection to the wonderful people all around us, and find contentment right now
2) in that moment of joy and contentment, we can act out of love.
What are some acts of love that we can do, in this moment of joy and appreciation for what is right here in front of us?
Appreciating the gift of our bodies, we take care of them. The bodies we have are incredible, wonders of nature, and we take them for granted. We abuse them by being sedentary, taking drugs, eating junk food, not taking care of them. Instead, an act of appreciation for our bodies is to care for them. Exercise, walk, eat well, floss, meditate.
Appreciating the gift of life, we explore the outdoors. There is so much to notice and explore, to behold with absolute wonder, that it’s a waste to be online or on our phones all day. Instead, it’s an act of love to get outside and move our beautiful bodies.
Appreciating the gift of food, we nourish our bodies. Instead of abusing ourselves by putting junk in our bodies (just to satisfy cravings of comfort), we can find joy in the nourishment of our bodies with gorgeous, healthy, delicious food. And appreciate that the fresh food we’re feeding ourselves with is a gift, grown from the earth by people we don’t know who support our lives, a miracle not to be taken for granted.
Appreciating this moment, we meditate. This moment is filled with brilliance, and yet we often ignore it. Instead, we can sit and meditate, to practice paying full and loving attention. We can do yoga, moving while we meditate. We can meditate as we go for a run, lift a barbell, ride a bike, swim in the ocean, walk in a sunny park.
There is no need for striving for fitness and health ideals. Instead, we can let go of those ideals and appreciate what’s right in front of us. And in gratitude, act with love and compassion to take care of ourselves and pay attention to the moment we’re in.
Click here to check out Leo’s Zen Habits blog.
I’ve been following Leo Babauta’s Zen Habit blog for some time now. I highly recommend it. Consider subscribing. This post is adapted from Leo’s blog. Now here’s Leo:
I know a lot of people who fall into a slump, losing the habit of exercise.
It’s hard to get out of a slump like that.
It’s hard to get going again, to get started when all the forces of inertia are against you.
Here’s how to get started, in just a few easy steps.
Pick one thing. Pick just one change. People who want to change their lives usually want to change everything at once. But trust me, one change is enough for now: go for a short walk, do a few pushups, or start jumping rope. Just pick one change and focus on it for the next month.
Send a friend an email. Just a quick email, asking for help. Tell them you’ve been slumping, but you’re going to stick to one change. Ask them to keep you accountable — if you don’t do what you promise every day for a month, you owe them something big (or embarrassing). Make it something powerful, so you definitely won’t allow yourself to fail.
Promise to do something ridiculously easy. Tell your friend you’re going to do something every day — but something super easy. Again, go for a 5-minute walk. Do just a few pushups every morning. The easier the better. Again, trust me on this one. You want it so easy you can’t say no.
Create unmissable reminders. Put a huge sign somewhere you won’t miss it. Reminders in your email, calendar, phone, or on your fridge. Ask people around you to remind you. Put a rubber band around your wrist. Don’t let yourself forget!
Build trust with a single step. Every day, you just need to take one step. Just do one pushup or yoga pose. When you take that step, do it mindfully and with gratitude and joy. Smile. Enjoy that tiny victory. With that step, you’re building trust in yourself. When you see yourself want to put it off, pause. Breathe. Stay with the urge to run away but don’t let yourself run. Smile, and do the habit anyway.
With every single step, you’ll feel better. When you finish that step, take the next one. You’ll trust yourself more and more, and eventually you’ll be able to add another small habit, then another the month after. And soon you’ll be kicking butt, happy you’re moving in a good direction, smiling with gratitude with every good thing you’re doing for yourself.
When you carry something heavy like a 40-pound cinderblock, you need to be focused so you don’t hurt yourself. If you get distracted, you could drop the block on your foot or strain your back or poke your eye out. The truth is that most of us remain mindful when attempting a high-risk feat, but often lose focus when performing run-of-the-mill exercises that we’ve done hundreds or thousands of times. As a result, we may get less benefit from certain movements than we should, or even worse, we might injure ourselves because we’re not paying attention. I challenge you to be completely present and mindful during one workout this week. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t engage in idle chatter with your neighbor. Don’t glance at your watch. Don’t let your mind wander. If it does, gently bring your attention back to the movement at hand without judging yourself. Try not to think about the “next” exercise, or how well or poorly you performed the previous one. Try not to compare yourself with the person in front of you or to the side of you. Stay focused and present, giving 100% of your attention to the movement that you’re performing in the here and now. After your workout jot down some judgment-free notes about how you did. See if you can do even better the next time.