For as long as I can remember, I've loved the outdoors. My mother instilled this in me: noticing new buds on the flower bushes, bird nests, the smell of fresh-cut grass. Having a love of nature goes hand in hand with being an active person. Starting in my teen years I have lived a healthy life of eating well and strengthening my body. I intentionally avoided the use of the word "exercise," because that holds negative connotations for many people. For me personally, body work and healthy eating are not just for weight management. It's more about being centered and strong - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Here in Texas, we have experienced a particularly nasty winter that seems to keep going on and on. So, around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I began to run or even to walk outside less and less. After the first of the year, I stopped completely. While I recognize that I could very well work out to fitness tapes or to go to one of our many local gyms, I didn't. I don't like to do that. I don't experience the release, the mental and emotional cleansing, the satisfaction that being outside brings me. But not doing anything was taking its toll. I felt increasingly crabby, slept fitfully and wasn't as mindful about my food choices. Something had to change.
The other morning I vowed I would haul out my dusty running shoes and hit the road. But it was cold! Freezing, to be exact! The nagging thought of, "It's way too cold out to go run" swam around in my brain. But the stronger thought of "That's an excuse, not a reason!" also swam around, and ultimately won. My two dogs were so excited when I donned running pants and laced up my tennis shoes, but they also looked skeptical. The last time I had put on those particular shoes was to take the garbage down to the curb on a particularly icy morning. But they weren't disappointed. We ran through our entire neighborhood, greeting pets, noticing new houses being built, breathing in the fresh, albeit brisk, air. Boy, did that feel wonderful. Why had I stopped?
I stopped because I fell into the pitfall of excuses that we convince ourselves are reasons. It's too cold. I don't have time. That's too hard. I'm too old. The list goes on and on. My dear friend frames these as "Lies we tell ourselves and choose to believe." Spot on. It's critical to carefully examine why we do or do not do certain things and separate the reasons from the excuses. Once we do that, we owe it to ourselves and those we love to push past the excuses. Get rid of them. Free yourself! You'll be happier. You'll be healthier.