Today, I went lap swimming. I had never done it before, nervous because I had never learned “true” swimming. Unlike many peers I had growing up, I never learned to swim via a team or lessons at the local pool. My mother, a former lifeguard, taught me all I know at Devil’s Lake – a gorgeous spring fed lake in southern Wisconsin known for its towering bluffs with excellent trails and rampant swimmers itch in the early summer. I grew up lake swimming which makes the concept of lap swimming intimidating – I don’t know if I had ever swam in a straight line before.
Still, I was determined to get myself to move today. I don’t know what is about exercise, but for me it comes in fits. I love it, I truly do. I’ve worked out daily, from classes to outdoor bike riding, and I feel damn awesome. I love that sore, overworked feeling. And yet, when I miss a day, I find I miss two. Then I miss three. The next thing I know I haven’t truly worked out in ages and I’m feeling lumpy and ornery.
Yesterday, I didn’t move at all and I had no excuse. The day was beautiful, I had no distractions, I could have done any number of great activities. I also didn’t write. I found myself playing games, reading, watching movies, dabbling on facebook, doing everything I really didn’t even want to do.
So, today, I forced myself to exercise. But not only that, I forced myself to do something new, to get a little risk, the added oomph to make it good. I swam laps. I did every number of absurd strokes but I did for 30 minutes. When I left, I felt amazing. I guarantee I will be back tomorrow.
Now, I’m at Starbucks and I’m hunkering down to do some serious writing. So what’s my point? We need to practice, we need to exercise. What I said about exercising I do the same for writing – if I skip a day, I skip a week. It takes a routine to make it feel truly natural. You’ll read it everywhere -writers try to write everyday. You need the habit to truly make it a part of your life.
And you want to know the best part? With the routine, with the exercise, you can’t help but get better at it. And that feels damn good.