“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
If this is true, and I believe it is, then I am an excellent coffee drinker! I couldn’t help but think of all my negative habits when I first read this quote. For all the good habits I have acquired over the years, there are many negative ones too, I am afraid. This thought made me a little too depressed – so I quickly shifted to thinking of the positive habits I have developed over the years (I made a mental note to shift back to the negative ones soon enough…procrastination being at the top of the list).
I consider myself lucky, really, to have solidified the habit of exercise when I was in college. It started before that when I ran track in high school (I really first became interested watching my dad run), but the college years were when exercise truly became a habit. My freshman year at Indiana University, I paid for a monthly IU-FIt pass and joined literally hundreds of other co-eds in the hot, stinky back rooms of “Wildermuth” gym for a group exercise class. This was really more of a dance class with step involved and since I am not all that coordinated, I never became very comfortable with it. I changed gears during my sophomore year, running 3-4 days a week with my giant Walkman in my hands and those awkward headphones on my ears. That’s when running became my go-to workout.
It was probably the “freshman fifteen” that prompted me start running regularly. I loved it. It was rarely a drag for me to get out to run. I usually ran in the evening, sometimes even after 9 or 10 at night (now I would hate to hear that my college-age daughter was running around campus this late). Indiana University, located in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, is a perfect place to run, but one of the things (besides basketball) that it is really known for is cycling. Most people have heard of the movie, “Breaking Away” about the Little 500 bike race held in Bloomington every year. I rode in the first Women’s Little 500 in 1988, and trained with my friends, riding all over the hills around Bloomington on my Schwinn 10-Speed. I have some awesome memories of our 20-40 mile bike rides through Indiana farm country!
By the time I graduated from college, exercise was habitual. From there I continued with the cycling and the running, adding babies in the jogger along the way. As they say, “The rest is history”. Over the years I have added a few different tools to my workout toolbox…strength training, triathalon training, barre classes, etc. In my mid-forties, I am grateful for the habit of exercise. I don’t think about it as an intrusion in my daily life; or even as an obligation. Instead it is an energy booster, a source of pleasure, a given. As I mentioned earlier, my negative habits are plenty. However, I have never regretted my exercise habit, and I am thankful that I have the energy and health at the moment (I realize I can’t take that for granted) to keep doing it. Now I just need to work on a few of my negative habits…(but I’m not going to stop drinking coffee any time soon)!