Fat Fridays: Exercise, it’s All in the Mind

Today my trainer gave me the hardest workout I’ve had yet. 

30 seconds burpees

Run 4 mins

15 jump squats

Run 4 mins

30 seconds High Knees

Rest 1 minute

Repeat 5 times. 5!!! 

It took me 70 minutes to do the whole workout. I did it in my living room and outside my house on the sidewalk. Every time I ran 4 minutes I would go down two blocks and then come back to my house, go inside, do the next exercise, gasp for a minute or two and then walk back outside to run. It was a total of ten 4-min laps. By about lap six I was not going as far down the second block, by lap eight I had shortened that distance some more. And then, lap ten, I decided I was just going to walk and treat it as my cool down. According to my fitbit I burned 869 calories. I haven’t really noticed any effects today from such a long workout, except when I tried to go upstairs to put my kids to bed and suddenly, walking up the stairs, it felt like my legs had turned to lead. But, aside from stairs, I feel great. 

When I started this workout I was intimidated. I knew it was going to take a long time and I was sceptical that I would be able to push through and do the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a mental game. I found it interesting, therefore,  that the thoughts that came to my mind while I ran were about childbirth. For those who are just tuning in, I have eleven kids. I gave birth to ten of them. So, I’m running down the sidewalk and I have this thought, at least this isn’t as bad as childbirth! Multiple reasons why, but the main one is I could stop running if I wanted to. Just stop. I could make that decision at any time. Childbirth, there is no stopping that thing. No going back. No pause button. It has begun and there is no stepping off of that train. 

So this is how I comforted myself as I gasped and panted down the sidewalk. This does not feel as bad a labor contraction. In fact, this is a walk in the park in comparison. In fact, running feels pretty good if I was given the choice between the two. Aren’t I lucky to be running right now? Instead of giving birth to a baby?? The other thought process was, Hey, if I could give birth, then I can do this. If I could give birth TEN times then I definitely can run these ten laps. 

Other ways I motivate myself while I’m running: chant a mantra in my head like, This is the last lap, this is the last lap, this is the last lap (kind of reminiscent of that old kid’s movie “Ice Age” where the dodo birds are exclaiming over the Last Melon. And if you don’t get this reference, I’m sorry, I have a lot of kids, I have seen this movie countless times and I can probably recite it to you.) I also like to keep my eyes open for neighbors driving past or walking past. Having an audience makes you run a bit faster or at least try to keep going instead of giving up and just walking. 

I find that completing a workout mostly has to do with what is going on in my mind rather than how my body feels. If I can stay distracted from the physical exertion of exercise and think about other things, I can keep going to the end. But if I focus on how tired I am, how much I don’t want to be doing this, etc, I am so much more likely to give up and not finish. 

All of this to say, I think I need to come up with a list of engaging things I can think about while I exercise. I’ve already covered childbirth, how about the most embarrassing moments of my life, I’m sure thinking about that would kick up my speed a bit. The possibilities are endless! 

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