I've been thinking a lot about…
…the power of the unexpected.
Surprise is categorized as something unexpected. Our cognitive resources are essentially hijacked and pulled into the moment. Which is a great place to be. We spend - I think - too much time focused on the future and not enough time engaged in the journey. There's lots of evidence to suggest living more of your life in the moment leads to a richer, healthier, more fulfilled life. But I digress.
When we're surprised our emotions intensify up to 400%. So, if it's a good surprise, we'll feel intensely happy, amused, touched...I'd like to encourage you to find more opportunities to delight people you care about with unexpected things. Also, be present throughout your day and you might be caught off guard - dare I say delighted? - by things you yourself didn't expect. Surprises play an important role in maintaining and increasing our vitality; even negative ones keep us and our brains on our toes.
The unexpected in exercise
The unexpected in exercise is also really powerful. In a recent study, participants began a specific exercise regime citing varied goals as important and motivating to them. At the end of a year, one of the most powerful contributors to exercise adherence was people experiencing satisfaction with unexpected benefits - including improved mood, sleep, and energy.
Isn't that cool?
So, while we may start a new workout regime for more notable reasons (more exciting? Instagram-worthy? Life transforming?) it's in fact noting and valuing the small stuff that is truly impactful.
I love this.
Let's be clear: lofty goals are awesome. You should keep setting goals that stretch you, make you a little nervous, and then make you really proud as you begin to realize them. Typically, those types of goals take a little bit longer and require a little more effort than the "small stuff'. AND we know that people get fed up and stop making exercise a priority if they aren't seeing results. So often (REALLY often) people drop out before they've hit the really awesome goals. The goal was on its way! But, to reach it, you needed a few more months and a few more buckets of sweat.
So... if along the way you are able to recognize and celebrate the cool small things, the odds are much greater you'll keep truckin' along. And then the odds of you realizing that kick-ass goal just went waaaaaay up!
What “small things” should you be looking for?
Look for these little treasures:
- Put your phone away and really concentrate on your strength training session. Notice how much stronger and more coordinated you feel. Notice muscles firing faster and in better patterns then they have before.
- Check out your posture. Did that workout just make you taller?!
- Never tried a short, high intensity workout? Do it! Another recent study showed the vast majority of exercisers cited high intensity exercise sessions as way more fun than moderate ones!
- Try a new class and notice how much fun it is...
- Think of your gym session - class, treadmill run, weight session - as a sport. Congratulate yourself on being an athlete. Again, still, or for the first time.
- Workout at lunch. Do you notice how it presses a reset button? How it can encourage you to make healthier choices for lunch?
- Workout first thing in the morning. The rest of the day might feel a little more manageable and positive...
- Exercise outside! Just being outdoors makes some people happy. And if the sun's out - bonus!
As always - we are here to help. If you're looking to try something different, be surprised by a workout or what your body can do, we would love to lend a hand.
Meg Sharp, MSc., B.Ed.Kin, FST Executive Director of Personal Training CGoC