James and I first heard the words, “Love is a decision” from a Catholic priest about five years after we were married. It was a bit of a paradigm shift. Even in the pre-marriage class we attended, we could not remember hearing that concept. However, after only five years of marriage, we both knew the truth of those words.
In the early years of our married life, we still relied on good “old-fashioned love”. We figured that is what would sustain us through inevitable hard times. And good times, too. Our immature hearts would trump our rational brains into believing that love is a feeling, always there, always reliable. But by the time we heard those words, like most married couples, the honeymoon was over, and the reality of three children, a mortgage, and the everyday stresses of life had taken its place. At this point the decision to love seemed like an idea worth exploring.
The decision to love doesn’t rely on feelings, which can come and go with our moods and the circumstances of our life. If it did, where would we be when the warm fuzzies disappeared? Instead, it relies on the commitment that we make to each other. We can know that even when things are tough, we have made a decision to love, regardless of conflict and difficulties.
This same concept can be applied to exercise. Exercise involves decisions (often daily ones) as well. Is it too cold? Am I too tired? Am I in the mood? Do I have time? Is it even working? Moving towards our well-being is a decision which I think can be viewed as two–sided. One side holds our excuses (some of them valid), and the other side holds our goals, hopes and dreams. If this sounds dramatic, think about how real those excuses can be. So real that they often prevent us from exercising at all. If we can counter those excuses with our goals and even our bigger dreams, we give ourselves real reasons to exercise. And like real love, our motivation is not based on our feelings, but on a decision that we have made.
Lets face it, often the decision to exercise is half the battle. The mental battles can sometimes tire us out before we even face the physical ones. If we can prepare ourselves to make better decisions, exercise might not be so difficult. A decision made the night before, for instance, will go a long way to propel us to follow through. We decide to lay out our clothes, set the alarm, meet a friend. All of these things help us, so that in the morning we are better prepared to make a good decision about exercise. And when we do get moving, we feel better and more motivated to do it again tomorrow. That is not to say those excuses won’t be there tomorrow . Infact, we may face off with them everyday for a long time. But there is good news, I think. Eventually the decision becomes built in to our subconscious. A decision made long ago still has enough weight to bring us to it today.
Our longterm goals can help in the decision process as well. Whether it is a race we sign up for or a weight we aspire to, goals are incredibly helpful in the decision to make exercise a regular part of our life. I know that when I decided to get more serious about strength, it was important to have a goal. I knew if I could do push-ups well, other strength exercises would be easier. So I set a goal of 50 push-ups. I wanted to be able to do them without stopping. I still haven’t reached the 50 mark, but I am getting there. Most of us need a little carrot dangling out there to push us toward our goals.
We should always we be ready to fight those sneaky excuses, because they can rear their ugly heads if we are not prepared! Writing down our short and long term goals is another way to practically help ourselves make daily decisions. Taping them on the bathroom mirror or on a nightstand next to the bed where we see them first thing in the morning is a mental tug towards making the decision to exercise. Making fitness a regular part of our lives is a whole lot easier if we make a conscious decision to do it. Then all we have to do is stick with it!
Tell us about your decisions regarding exercise…or regarding life in general!