This challenge is about more than just fitness … we are bringing mindfulness into the mix as well.

Let’s talk about how to bring our mindfulness skills to bear in our exercise challenges:

  1. Notice the urge to put off the exercise. You might not run into this urge when you first start the challenge, but at some point during the month, you’re likely to feel like putting off your exercise until later. Maybe later today, maybe tomorrow. Most of the time, you are capable of still doing the exercise and not putting it off (there are exceptions — injury, for example). So the mindfulness practice is to notice the urge to put it off. Notice how this urge feels in your body. Be present with it. Then breathe. And take just one small step, even if you aren’t in the mood.
  2. As you start, set an intention to be present. When you do get started, avoid just rushing into it, like it’s something you need to get over with. Instead, pause. Notice how your body feels. And then set an intention to move through the exercise with mindfulness. And gratitude.
  3. As you move, feel the sensation of moving. Whatever the activity, notice the sensation of your body as you move. Keep coming back to these sensations, when your mind wanders.
  4. Bring gratitude to your movement. At at least one point during your exercise, see if you can feel grateful for being able to move. For having a body. For being alive. For being outdoors, if you are. For this incredible moment.
  5. Be present with the sensations of intensity. If you do an intense exercise, like a heavy weight or a fast sprint, there will be a feeling of intensity. This is often seen as unpleasant, but see if you can drop that judgment and just be present with the sensations. Open yourself to them, and welcome them.
  6. Notice when you want to exit. At some point, you might want to stop the exercise. That’s completely OK. But instead of exiting, just notice the feeling of wanting to exit. Notice your thought pattern. Be present with the urge to quit. Breathe into it. See if you can stay just a little longer.
  7. Close with gratitude. As you finish, be grateful that you showed up fully today. Even if you weren’t fully present, be grateful if you were present even a little. Be grateful you are alive, and able to move. See what has shifted in you from the movement and the mindfulness practice.

If you practice this way all month, I can guarantee that you will not only enjoy the habit more and be more likely to do it beyond this challenge … you’ll develop skills that will translate to all other habits.