Internal Voice

Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, June 13, 2017 edition: Internal Voice

This topic might make a few of us squirm a bit. Imagine for a moment that you’re talking with a friend who’s feeling down about themselves. They have nothing but harsh words for themselves about whether they are moving, how they are feeling, what they are not accomplishing. You really care about this friend. So you might encourage them to look for what they *can* do, what they are *already* accomplishing, and not to throw out all their good efforts just because they aren’t being picked as one of NASA’s next astronauts.

Now, flip this around. What if that’s not your friend who’s getting down on themselves, what if that’s your internal voice? Would you let your friend beat themselves up the way your internal voice sometimes does? Are you harsh on yourself about whether or not you’re “doing enough” to reach your goals?

Just like you would reach out to your loved ones and give them comfort and encouragement, how could you use that same loving impulse to give yourself some encouragement?

And if that’s really just too hard to do some days, I hope you can give yourself this message — even if today is too hard, this too shall pass.

I know that I enjoy being able to hear about your small successes and efforts — you encourage me just by being you.

How did you move today? How will you move tomorrow?

Selecting Focus 

Daily Movement Prompts, Monday, June 12, 2017 edition: Selecting Focus

I often wonder about what I want to build next: Should I focus on stamina or technique? Should I work toward a deadline, like a race or competition or workshop? Should I set goals about how frequently I go to the gym or practice or workout? Or maybe achievement goals like distance running, walking, or swimming?

What I find most important is that I choose *something* and not leave it to chance or choose nothing. My current schedule shapes some of my choices. My friends sometimes influence my choices, especially when we decide to both do something similar or together.

How have you thought about your movement choices? Do you find yourself having to narrow down your choices? How has your focus been lately?

Remember the Joy

Daily Movement Prompts, Sunday, June 11, 2017 edition: Remember the Joy

How many of your movement choices give you a sense of joy or accomplishment? Do they make you feel better after you’ve completed them, possibly feeling better than you expected to feel? Have you had those days where you were dragging your feet on your way to the movement of choice and then bounced away happier afterwards?

I wonder why we sometimes forget the joy in our accomplishments. We don’t need to burden ourselves with shame over inactivity or slow paces. We could start to remember the joy of the things we love or the joy of the completion or even the joy of the process itself.

What joy have you gained lately in movement? What joy would you like to find as you pursue your favorite activities? What sense of accomplishment are you aiming for? Can you enjoy what you found today?

Three Times

Daily Movement Prompts, Saturday, June 10, 2017 edition: Three Times

Each day is new and has fresh opportunities for you to move or to rest. And even if you have been resting and recovering for a while now, maybe suffering from pain or indecision, that doesn’t define you.

You define you.

It might seem easy to cheer yourself on when you have been seeing success or progress. But do you know why I say, “No Pressure, No Shame” as a guiding principle? Because Shame cannot build anything. Shame can only tear down. Shame comes at us from so many directions already. Why would I welcome shame into my habits? What an unwanted tenant in my head.

I want to strongly suggest that you walk away from shaming yourself. Try refusing to repeat messages of shame at yourself. What motivations can you encourage instead?

Once is an occasion. Twice is a pattern. Three times is a habit. Consider cheering on your successes. You could build a habit of encouragement and honesty that says, “Yup. That’s where I am today. So here’s what I will do.” No shame, just honest work on your preferred habit building.

What movement did you choose today? How will you move tomorrow?

Facing Fear and Pain

Daily Movement Prompts, Friday June 9, 2017 edition: Facing Fear and Pain

Several different folks have been discussing what it takes to create motivation when you notice that you’ve been avoiding movement because of pain or fear of some sort. Wow, do I totally appreciate this topic! I spent two years limping mostly because of a fear of diagnosis and trying to ignore pain.

Pain can be crippling. It can mess with your brain. Fear can also be crippling and it definitely messes with your brain. Combatting either of these will depend on how *you* respond well to things. Do you respond best when you have a support system? Does the encouragement of friends or a buddy make you feel better? Can you think more clearly when someone else’s voice chimes in?

Or do you think better with written instructions? Do you respond well to an alarm clock or an appointment on your calendar? Will you go to a class because you promised to be there? Or will you do stretches or movement because you set aside time betwen other tasks? Or do you respond to financial commitments? Will you go to a class because you paid for it?

How you face your fears and face your fear of pain might even change over time. What might have worked years ago might no longer work. What I *can* suggest is that you ARE successful at something. Maybe you are good at small tasks at home or at work or within your family. Rather than make movement a GIANT MOUNTAIN, maybe you could try making small tasks that head toward a goal. If sitting up in bed is the only thing you do, then sit up in bed twice. Sit up in bed three times. Sit up ten times and celebrate your progress. If walking to the end of the block is all you can do, then walk once. Then walk a second time. Then when you’ve walked to the end of the block ten times, you may be able to see that you really have made progress.

What fears or pains are keeping you back right now? What tasks are you succesful at right now in life? How can you use those successes to give you ideas for facing your fears or pain? How will you move your body today?

Bernadette Peters and the Muppets – Just One Person


Celebrate Success

Daily Movement Prompts, Thursday, June 8, 2017 edition: Celebrate Success

You have plans. You may have even scheduled some of the steps to achieve your goals. You show up, you do some activity or movement, you can log your success in an app, on a calendar, or just in your memory and in your heart.

How do you celebrate your successes? Do you allow yourself to appreciate your achievements? Or do you brush off your work with any excuses? Do you compare yourself to others and depreciate your work as “not as good” as theirs? Do you even stop and ponder your achievements?

I’d like to suggest that today you pick your activity or movement of the day. Show up. Do what you plan to do. Then find a way to *celebrate* that daily achievement. Do a little happy dance. Pat yourself on the back. Take a photo of yourself smiling. You don’t even have to post the image  (although that might be fun)… but capture a sense of success. It just might help you keep going on the tough days.

And if today is not filled with success, that’s okay too. You can schedule rest and recovery as an *intentional* act of care for yourself. Celebrate that you *did it* — you rested, you pursued your recovery, you are anticipating this choice paying off in the long run.

How will you move today? How will you celebrate your success today?

Plan of Action

Daily Movement Prompts, Wednesday, June 7, 2017 edition: Plan of Action

You could react to your schedule, or you could have a Plan of Action. A Plan might break down like this:
(1) I want to do this movement or activity (on this day/time, for this frequency…).
(2) I am about to do this.
(3) I am doing this!
(4) I did it!
(5) I want to do this next movement or activity…

Any plan might have flexibility built in. (A) I want to do this movement or activity three times this week. If Tuesday goes south, I have time on Wednesday instead.

Or your plan might be less specific. (B) I want to do this movement or activity every night before bed, at least six nights per week. So if I skip one night, I’d like to not skip any more nights.

Obviously health, injury, and other interruptions from family or work could throw off your schedule or plan. And having the freedom to let that go by without shaming yourself is a new skill for many people. We may have spent years berating ourselves over our failures rather than accepting the past for what it is and readjusting for the present and future.

But I will strongly suggest: If you do not make a plan of action and *schedule* that plan, what you have is a wish, not a plan. [Credit to Angela Never and Cera Byer for teaching me this point.]

So what is your plan today? What is your plan for tomorrow? Have you scheduled your plan lately?

Creative Core

Daily Movement Prompts, Tuesday, June 6, 2017 edition: Creative Core

Are there activities or movements you ideally would *like* to be better at, but you just don’t necessarily like the “standard” movements associated with them? Take Sit Ups, for example. I’m not a fan of the old style from my youth: Wedge my feet under something stationary, lie back on the floor, hands on my neck and elbows out, repeatedly sit up and lie down while someone counts. *BLECH* I was never a fan.

But I *would* like strong core muscles. I would like to improve my strength and be able to reliably call on those abs for various activities. Time for me to get creative.

I have a very stable chair at my desk at work. I can easily lean back and do repetitions with my abs to bring myself back to a seated position—tip back, sit up, tip back, sit up. It’s also easy to do throughout the day when I’ve been working too long seated in one position.

I also have dance drills that can work my core. In ATS, we describe these as either the Body Wave or the Arabic in which I lift the ribcage then reset at our lifted-neutral posture, pull in the top abs, then pull in the bottom abs, repeat. The sequence runs an S shape from top to bottom, almost like if you pull your belly in to avoid being tickled. (You can also repeat the S shape in reverse, pulling in from bottom to top.) Even if you feel awkward with the S-shape of top abs and bottom abs, you can pull your abdominal muscles s in repeatedly while standing or sitting… I catch myself doing this while stuck in traffic.

And somedays I’ll collapse on my bed at home, legs hanging over the edge. Then I will do sit up repetitions from bed. I didn’t have to clean off the floor and I still got an ab workout.

How have you been creative about muscle workouts in your own activities? How will you move today?

Moving Those Feet

Daily Movement Prompts, Monday, June 5, 2017 edition: Moving Those Feet

If you set your goal, you might already know what is on the schedule for today. What encouragement do you need to do what you already want to be doing? And if you haven’t set some goals yet, what encouragement would get you up and making decisions about your movement?

These seem so obvious—you either have a plan already or you haven’t made your plan yet—but the simple things are rarely the easy things, right? Simple is not the same as Easy. You might simply *want* to get moving, to build your habits, to embark on that grand effort to “climb Mt. Everest,” but your day to day life is still in place. You didn’t get here in your life, having sprung full-grown from Zeus’ brow. (Unless you are Athena. In which case, rock on sistah. You go on being awesome as the Goddess of Wisdom that you are.)

So, since I’m not Athena, I have to earn my full-grown status one step at a time. And yes, I need to sit down and rest on occasion. But I still have a path in front of me, and I will need to get up and walk down this path further if I really want to get to that next goal.

These feet aren’t just going to move themselves. Today I need to move my feet.


Daily Movement Prompts, Sunday, June 4, 2017 edition: Repeatable

Have you ever gotten excited about a new routine, habit, or system, jumped in all excited in day one, two, maybe even three, and then never returned to it again? What made it so hard to keep going? What made it so easy to stop?

I think the issue for me boils down to what’s *REALLY* repeatable. What habits do I *enjoy* (or maybe at least I don’t actively hate them) and I find still interesting and possible in my already full and existing life with habits. Whenever I shift a pattern, I have to wonder if the new pattern is repeatable.

Let’s say you did come up with a goal for this month. Let’s say you even acted on it for a few days now. What is repeatable about those actions? Are you ready to do it again today? Can you expand on your ideas? Can you set the same schedule? What could be a road block?

Let’s say you knocked down some road blocks JUST for today. Can you repeat an activity, drill, movement, or exercise today? What movement will you repeat today, to build habits that take you to your next goal? And if today needs to be rest and recovery, what steps can you repeat on your next activity day?

Be encouraged, you can make these movement choices. Your way, your timing.