In naming our first challenge of 2021 we decided to go with the word we found most fitting - ritual.
The 30 Day Body Ritual Challenge was our answer to a very common concern. We make time for stuff that is important to us, and rank down things that aren't. Why is something we all know is 'good for us' so often getting the boot? Why do we have a hard time making movement a priority everyday?
There are many reasons (excuses) but much of it comes down to two things
1) core beliefs and more specifically the attitude we have towards ourselves and our motivation to change that attitude,
and 2) immediate threat versus long term threat.
When we make our plans for the day or even for the hour we cannot help but respond to pressure/stress. If something is not already adopted as solid habit, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed, it requires planning. Otherwise whatever presents itself as the most immediate stress is going to overpower good intentions, almost every time. This is, for the most part, human nature. Immediate stress can be difficult to address clearly and rationally.
As humans we are programmed to fear and avoid danger, and the immediate stress of missing a deadline, or a child fussing, or feeling tired after work so often can be rationalized as much more present danger than far distance future danger of living a sedentary life and all of the health risks associated. The situation gets even more complicated when our social roles enter the picture. When our choice between getting our movement needs met for the day seemingly butts up against our desire to be perceived as an attentive mother, dutiful employee, or reliable partner, very few of us are hardwired to support our longterm health over a need or stress from a role we fulfill.
This is why we are convinced that the best way to make movement routine is to make it a ritual - a covenant with yourself that has enough variability and latitude that it not only can fit into your day, no matter what, it becomes something that super charges your ability to uphold the other priorities that truly matter to you - especially when those priorities include caring for the people you love the most.
All we're asking is that you begin to count yourself amount those people.
Ritual relates to the word rite. Rite has root in Latin and is attributed to religious or sacred acts of importance. To have a personal ritual, more than just a trend or a habit, is to say that act has significance, importance... or even a sacredness! To acknowledge your movement practice as a special experience you are having with yourself is powerful! It means that you are considering yourself as someone worthy of such consideration (hint: you are!)
To flip the switch on any habit we have to extract the core belief. This is much better DONE than analyzed. In other words, the change comes from the doing, not the thinking.
So in order to become someone who believes this statement ...
"I am someone who enjoys and prioritizes movement, daily"
... we have to put some practice in place to start changing some of the other more gremlin-y thoughts that may be rooted in doubt, lack, guilt, or overwhelm.
Here are 10 tips for anyone who wants to make their movement routine a ritual, not a phase.
10. Stop making movement just about calories.
The truth is that within an average recommended diet a regular movement routine that is sustainable day-to-day is going to take up a small fraction of total calories burned. Prioritizing a huge calorie burn from your workout is setting yourself up for discouragement.
What happens when you LOVE your workout, but then realize it didn't burn as many calories as you expected? Do you all of the sudden stop doing that form of exercise and opt for something you like less?
Here's another scenario. What happens when you go so hard to burn a large amount of calories that the next day you are too sore and tired to do much of anything? Will your one day of work make up for multiple days of no work? Probably not. It's always a better bet to go for a consistent routine that is moderately challenging over one crazy day or even month that burns you out.
9. Schedule your movement appointments in your calendar.
Do you put your kids' dentist appointment in your phone? How about a meeting with your boss? What about being available for the visit from the electrician that your spouse asked you to manage?
If your child's oral hygiene, your job's newest project rank, or a request from your partner rank high enough on your priority list to get a meeting appointment in your phone, you better also be putting meetings with yourself on the schedule as well.
When you schedule time for yourself and the alert goes off you have to make a conscious choice to acknowledge it or ignore it. Chances are, you'll keep that appointment because you will remember how much it mean to you when you typed it in!
8. Welcome Guidance
Accountability can be easier when we have someone guiding us.
You're already doing the biggest work, making this new routine a ritual. So inviting a person or a program to do the work of giving you something to follow along can make consistency more possible.
Of course this never means you HAVE to do everything suggested, but rather consider this an invitation to take some of the guesswork out of your routine by letting someone else to call the shots for a little while. From there you can simply hop in and enjoy with less thinking and more doing.
7. Tell a Friend
Accountability is also easier when you have someone who is willing to cheerlead and encourage you through!
Now this doesn't mean you have to broadcast your goals (in fact we don't even want to make a 'goal' part of a ritual -- more on that later) but you are instead finding a trusted person to help you uphold your agenda. Ask them to inquire about your progress and share with them how you are feeling! Not only will you feel more inspired to maintain your new routine, you'll feel more connected and supported by your friend than ever!
6. Don't Set a Goal
Yes you heard it right. Goals are great. But making a ritual isn't about meeting a goal. What happens if you miss your goal... did all of your previous work go out the window? Rituals are all about embracing the process, the routine, and finding something sacred and personal in it.
If you are committing to finishing 30 movement classes in 30 days... that's plenty. There's no need to intensify the situation with an additional accomplishment.
5. Journal or Keep Record
Awareness is incredibly helpful, especially in moments when we want to give up. If building healthy rituals were easy, there'd be no point to post blogs or build programs. Inevitably there will be obstacles.
Acknowledging how you feel on a regular basis can help you in many ways. For one thing, you will be able to put together the puzzle pieces of how your movement ritual can and does positively impact your mood and wellbeing. Another observation you might come across is how good it feels to acknowledge when you are encountering difficulty instead of trying to ignore it. This is supportive in the moment, but also encouraging for your future self when you are able to look back and realize how resilient you truly are!
When you're just beginning a new routine keeping a journal of how it's going will help you not only reflect in the moment, but have something to look back on in moments of uncertainty.
4. Adopt a 'begin again' attitude
One of the wonderful things about ritual is that there's no failure in it. If you forget something, or have to start over, you can! Remember, this is not tied to a deadline or a goal - so there is no finish line to cross.
Finish lines can be incredibly motivating. But they also can be discouraging and overly final. Rituals are not reinforced by accomplishment. They are reinforced by repetition.
So if you miss a day, you miss a day. Then you begin again the next day. There's no drama in that. With a 'begin again' attitude there's nothing lost, only gained.
3. Cast a wider net for movement
When we have a narrow set up variables about what 'counts' as a movement practice, it's hard for anything else to live up to it. When we cast a wider net around the ways we will embrace movement we tend to incorporate it in a bigger way everyday.
Thinking about the collective ways we move, not just the exercise itself, will always result in our daily movement going up - not down. This is the wisdom behind 10,000 steps per day. Maybe 10,000 steps isn't a golden number for you. But if you adopt a collective attitude of more movement, then you can assess the volume of movement instead of just the intensity of your exercise in your ritual of movement. Similarly to skipping the idea of making exercise responsible for calories, when we adopt of lifestyle of movement instead of trying to check off a calories-burned box, we can end up moving more.
2. Bundle with Love!
Sometimes there will be days that your motivation just isn't there. These are the days to bundle your movement ritual with something that you love! Maybe a low motivation day means opting for a long walk instead of an intense workout. Why not pop on your headphones and listen to your favorite podcast? Maybe on a day when you're having a hard time fitting in exercise as well as time with your spouse, you bundle the two and do something active together.
Once you've cast a wider net, adopting a long-term view of active lifestyle you can start to become more flexible around how you incorporate movement into your daily life - by bundling it with something you love.
The very best way to do this is to prioritize movement that you absolutely love to do, then cross-train around it. If you love going on bike rides with your kids, consider the rest of your exercises during the week as fuel to make sure you can be active and ready to engage in that time! If you love being able to shoot hoops in the driveway consider the ways your workouts can keep you nimble enough to enjoy that hobby for longer! If you enjoy learning new Yoga poses consider how the rest of your movement practice stabilizes and strengthens your body to take on these new moves.
1 Invite Gratitude
Rituals are opportunities for gratitude! Let every movement ritual be an opportunity to practice gratitude for the way you showed up for yourself, gratitude for the way your body works, and for the way that life opened up with space to spend time on yourself.
In fact a gratitude list, after you've finished your movement practice ,can be a great thing to jot down in your journal. Not only is opting for gratitude a motivating mood booster, gratitude has a lasting effect on the brain weakening symptoms of depression and minimizing toxic emotions that may sabotage your movement regimen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia Lopez is the Co-Founder of Practice Everywhere and Honest Soul Yoga. A lifelong practitioner of Yoga, Julia is inspired to support the health and wellbeing of her clients using the lifestyle principles of Yoga as the foundation of her training. Julia is holds her ERYT500 and YACEP distinctions from Yoga Alliance. She is also a Personal Trainer CPT-NCSF and Sports Nutrition Specialist SNS-NCSF, and has held also several other certifications over the years with specialties in group fitness, suspension training systems, and cycling. These certifications along with almost two decades of Yoga practice and thousands of hours of working with clients in fitness industry, and several years spent in community relations promoting health and wellness initiatives for natural and organic grocers, Julia's approach is always bent towards making holistic wellness simple, accessible, and pleasurable - because she believes people will always do more of what they truly enjoy.
GET STARTED WITH A ROUTINE YOU'LL LOVE.
Are you looking for a supportive way to kick off a ritual of daily movement? Check out the 30 Day Body Ritual Challenge. This program is designed to incorporate key aspects of wellness including mobility, strengthen, cardiovascular fitness, and reset & recovery. The challenge also incorporates meditation and mindset support. With classes ranging from 30 - 50 Minutes, this 30 day challenge demonstrates that daily movement is not only possible - it's manageable! Best of all our challenge is available on on the web, smartphone app and smartTV apps so it can be done from anywhere, no equipment required, with less excuses and a lot more fun!