Recently I stumbled upon one of Jen Sinkler’s recent pieces for Women’s Health. She shared 4 ways for making your fitness habits stick (i.e. “how to actually get your tail in the gym on a consistent basis without being escorted there at gunpoint”), and they were great tips…but what I really loved was her reference to the famous “Marshmallow Study” done by Stanford University. If you’re unfamiliar, a quick synopsis of the study is here. The Stanford scientists were looking at the levels of impulse-control children exhibited when presented with a tempting food (in case you’re not there yet, that food in question was marshmallows…) and the option to eat that food immediately, or wait 15 minutes and be given twice as much to eat (so, 2 marshmallows).
So how do marshmallows relate to fitness? As Jen so simply put it, “Find a way to make your workout the marshmallow.”
When I read that, I think I found the tagline-version of my personal fitness philosophy. I’ve waxed poetic before about the importance of making fitness downright fun, doing workouts that make you feel alive, finding joy in movement, and choosing activities that truly excite you.
I’m all about that business, and after more years than I care to remember doing workouts that I hated, there’s no turning back. If you’d told me 4 years ago that I would love working out because I loved my workouts, I would have laughed. Back then, I loved workouts because they were my penance for eating and having a body that took up space, and sweat was a way of atoning for the sin of having curves. Workouts didn’t just assuage my guilt, they gave me a sense of accomplishment (so I didn’t have to face the fact that I wasn’t accomplishing other – more important! – goals in life).
Although not everyone has had an eating disorder, most folks can relate to doing workouts they dislike. These bodies were given to us to be used, and life is far too short and time far too precious to spend it doing workouts we hate. After all, there are hundreds of different ways that you can be active, stay healthy, and get stronger. So find the modalities of movement that you love so much you get twitterpated and buzzed (without pre-workout) or old-fashioned excited just thinking about it, and give yourself permission to do it all the damn time. (Just be sure to throw in recovery days and time for trying things that make you look ridiculous.)
Go turn on some music and dance.
Roll out your mat and do yoga.
Try some calisthenics.
Swing a kettlebell around.
Take a hike.
Surf, run, swim, bike, lift, do gymnastics, do jazzercise, tap dance, parkour, climb a tree, play football, just play.
Play until you find your marshmallow, and then keep playing.
Happy moving, folks.