-by Bia Plake-
Why is 51 a good idea?
My Brazilian friends will immediately know what I am talking about.
But I will explain to my non-Brazilians friends, because it is an important part of my process.
In the ’70s in Brazil we had a TV advertisement that went viral. It was about a Cachaça (the liquor to make the cocktail known as “caipirinha”) called 51.
The tag line was, “51 uma boa ideia”, which means, “51, a good idea”.
After that, every time someone would mention “51”, it would also be followed by “a good idea”. It was such a hit that it became a theme for most 51st birthday parties.
Anyway, last January 28th I turned 51yrs old. Yes… believe it or not, it came sooner than I expected! I literally had passed the half-century mark, and as you can imagine, I was freaking out!
On the day of my birthday, I woke up and asked myself, “What ‘good idea’ can I come up with today?”
Then I came up with a brilliant idea. At least, I thought it was.
I would walk every day for 51 days straight. Yep! One day for every year that I have not exercised (or had failed to do so).
It seemed like a pretty small step, but for me it was HUGE. I know…
I used to go to the gym. But mostly just to hang out at the juice bar, or buy a workout video to do at home (and use it for only a week). I’ve wasted so much more money and time than I would like to admit. So I thought this would be a great way to start an exercise routine for free.
Let’s go back to THAT morning…
I got up, went to my husband’s workroom and told him the good news. Without taking his eyes off the computer he says, “Uh huh”. I thought he hadn’t understood, so I said it again.
He looks at me, rolled his eyes and let out a long “Okayyyy”.
I knew what he meant. He did not believe that I would really do that. He thought that yet again, I’d say that I wanted to do some exercise but I would quit.
When I would complain about being out of shape and ask his advice, he would say “Just start walking every day.” And I would do one day or two and then forget about it.
But this time, I felt angry that he didn’t believe me. In fact, I felt that he wasn’t even listening to me.
I screamed at him almost in tears. “WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO ME?!!!”, then ran to my bedroom and started sobbing on my bed like a baby. I was mad because he didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt.
But I guess… I was more upset because… I knew he was right!
I knew that I had shown numerous times that I wouldn’t follow through.
He came to the room surprised from my reaction and said he was very sorry. He didn’t realize that this was so important to me, and promised his full love and support.
Finally I pulled myself together and went on my first walk.
I started walking the hills around my house, and after a while, I started running more than I walked. I felt stronger each day, with more energy than ever.
I finally had to prove to myself and to him that I COULD do it. Sometimes it takes a little breakdown in order to make some improvements. I walked under the rain, the sun, at night, and on beautiful days, too. The most important part is that “I did it”. I felt proud of my accomplishment.
It can be hard to have discipline. I know, believe me…
Some days were pouring rain, and I just wanted to stay home and have a hot chocolate. But I would go anyway. By the time I came back from the run I felt very proud of myself. I remember when I used to drive around seeing people running in the rain. I couldn’t understand why someone would do that.
Now I do.
They made a decision to exercise, no matter what.
They had something that I didn’t have until now, self-discipline.
They made a commitment to their well being.
I have also found that this is more than just exercising for me.
It is almost like a meditation. Some time for me and my thoughts.
It boosts my mood and my energy, also helps me to relieve tension, and to sleep better. I also get some good ideas while walking/running.
All good stuff…
If you are struggling finding discipline to excercise regularly, here are some things that worked for me that might also work for you:
- First and foremost, DECIDE to do It. There is a difference between wanting do do something and deciding to do it. You need to decide, and then DO IT.
- Second, share with family and friends your decision. You never know who will be inspired by you (my friend from work decided to walk every day with her husband). Also, they will hold you accountable.
- Determine the number of days for your challenge. It cannot be so short that it is ineffective, nor too long that is not sustainable.
- Make your exercise clothes available and organized so you don’t need to struggle just to get ready
- Find a route that is long enough so that you don’t have to count how many times you went “around the block”.
- If you plan on running in the morning, but you are not running right away, just put your outfit on. You will feel more inclined to run later because you are ready to go.
- Don’t go crazy in the beginning. Just start building up until you feel comfortable running. Aim to feel like you want to do just a little bit more the next time.
- Use a calendar and mark off the day’s you have been walking. I actually did a count down. It makes me feel I was closer each day. (This is my favorite suggestion!)
- The last but not thes least, celebrate at the end when you finish your goal.
Each day before you begin your run, recall that feeling of accomplishment that you get at the end of the run.
I am so happy that I challenged myself to change my patterns. I feel I can do anything!
And I am challenging you, too!
Go for it my friend! I would love to know about your progress.