big-book

I don’t do resolutions. They’ve just never appealed to me. However, due to (a) my upcoming nuptuals this year and (b) my admission to myself that my clothes no longer fit well, I thought that a health/fitness plan would be appropriate. And necessary. On Christmas I was pondering this as I unwrapped a gift from Dave’s mom: Oprah’s Big Book of Happiness. It’s a compilation of the 100 best articles that have been printed in O magazine, full of “wisdom, wit, advice, interviews, and inspiration.”

The first article in the book was the one that inspired my 2009 plan. In “Why is it so damn hard to change?” Rebecca Skloot talks about how “she wanted to exercise more. But rain, fatigue, looming deadlines, and bad sneakers (that’s right – blame the sneakers) got in her way. What was really going on?” She met with doctors, neuroscientists, and addiction experts to get answers about the way our brains deal with physical activity. The following paragraph, in which Skloot interviews Monika Fleshner, PhD, a neuroimmunophysiologist, stuck out at me:

Then she tells me something wonderful: All I have to do is force myself to exercise regularly for about two weeks, maybe three, and my brain will start producing a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which she calls Miracle-Gro for the brain. It increases brain plasticity, so you can think clearly and focus for longer periods of time. It also increases dopamine neurotransmission, which means the more I exercise, the more reward I get, and the more my dopamine system is activated to make exercising a habit I’ll soon crave.

 Thus, my resolution was born. For three weeks straight, without a single day off, I will do at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise, as well as 10-minute abs twice a week. If I’m feeling great and want to go for longer, then awesome. But if not, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. It sounds insignificant, but I didn’t want to give myself a plan that I wouldn’t stick to. My workouts have been nonexistant lately, and committing to something like an hour of daily, intense exercise would have been a sure way to apathy and injury.

At the end of the three weeks, I’ll (according to the article) have developed a habit of regular exercise, and I will have also built a base from where I can intensify my workouts. Dave and I promised each other that we would run a half marathon together before we get married, so I’ll start training for that once my three weeks are up.

I’m on day four of my plan, and I gotta say – I’m feeling great. Because my goal is so easy to achieve every day, I end each workout with a sense of accomplishment that I simply wouldn’t get from attempting (and failing) to do more. Maybe it’s pathological, but I feel like my clothes are already starting to fit better. I’m excited to keep going, and I know that once I get in better shape I’ll be able to ask more of my body.

Did you guys do resolutions (other than our vow to never imbibe again after our silly New Year’s night)?

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