The ritual that I now call Fitness First started as a way to break my habit of hitting snooze for hours, then waking up with my phone in my hand and getting sucked into email and social media for half the day. This was a regular occurrence. I could be dressed to leave my apartment, shoes and jacket on, standing by the door, on email on my phone, for hours.
I’m proud to say I don’t do that anymore.
In the early days of my ritual, getting out the door without getting sucked into the demands of my business or social media was a herculean task. As much as I knew I wanted to go to the gym, I felt restrained by stronger forces.
What Held Me Back
Although it would be easy to blame email and social media for my struggles, they were not the real culprits.
The forces that held me back were under the surface:
Guilt. Anxiety. Fear.
I believed that I had to be a responsible business owner, on top of my emails and social media. Responding, posting, sharing, and promoting. As a real estate agent, I was inundated with trainings that told me I was expected to respond to emails within five minutes, or risk losing the client. (Spoiler alert: this is not true.)
I believed it was selfish to put myself first. So I gave to everyone else, saving myself for last. The problem with this model was that when my turn came there was nothing left to give. The tank was empty. And I felt resentful toward the people I wanted to serve because they took my time and energy.
Except they didn’t take it. I gave it. Freely. Willingly.
Depleted. Rushing. Scattered. This was how I routinely showed up in my life. It didn’t work so well.
I knew that I had to make a change, and I was committed. But still, on that first day, the hardest step was the one across the threshold of my own apartment. The front door felt heavy, weighted with the leaden voice of fear and doubt telling me that I was selfish, that I’d be disappointing people who needed me, that I’d be sabotaging my business.
I hadn’t planned to go to the gym that day. The original plan was just to get outside as quickly as possible. But once outside, the gym felt like a natural place to go.
Creating Space For My Best Work
in the gym, I found something I didn’t even know I had been missing.
Space to be. To think. To feel. To connect with myself.
After a few weeks, I began to notice a change. When I create space for myself I am less anxious and less rushed. I am a nicer person. I showed up better for my clients, friends and family.
My daily workouts became an essential ritual for me to start my day from a place of coherency and calm, rather than chaos. This one practice paved the way for a list of other daily practices that have reshaped my life, including daily meditation, writing, daily blogging, a daily journaling practice, and creating space for stillness and reflection and creating a vision for a bigger life. A more full life. A more alive life.
Whether I exercise for 10 minutes, 3 hours, or somewhere in between, this is my time and space for me. Physical activity gives me focus and helps me keep ADHD effects under control.
In this way, my daily workout serves as a ritual that creates the energetic container in which I do my best work.
Over the past six years, I’ve logged a lot of time in the gym, the pool, yoga classes, and other fitness activities. Physical activity makes me feel good. But the muscles that I’ve strengthened have gone beyond the physical.
The biggest gains are in my inner strength.
Self-worth. Self-trust. Believing that I am worthy to receive space and time for myself, and a willingness to give it to myself. Because nobody hands it to you unless you claim it.
I can assert with confidence that I wouldn’t be where I am today without that decision. In fact, it’s fair to say I might not even be alive.
All it took was a willingness to change one thing that I was doing, for one day.
And each day, as I see the effects of this practice, I renew my commitment to my ultimate goal:
Do it again tomorrow.