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4 Ways to Step Up Your Exercise Plan

Ilchi Lee headstand

The older I get, the more I feel the need to move my body to make it strong and limber. Lately, I’ve made doing headstands a part of my regular routine.

Although starting younger is better, I think it’s never too late to start taking care of your physical strength. I’m already 70, but I’m always impressed when I hear about people who are even older than I am that have broken records—people like Robert Marchand, who didn’t start cycling seriously until he was 67. At the age of 105, he set a new world record when he completed a 22-km course in one hour. At that point, his heart and lungs were operating like those of a 50-year-old! Harriet Thompson first resolved to run a marathon when she was 76 and became the oldest woman in the world to complete one when she was 92.

Hearing stories like those of Robert and Harriet may inspire you to do more than you’re doing now, or it may depress you. It may make you want to throw the covers over your head or break through your inertia to go outside and walk. There’s no right or wrong response, but it’s important to remember that it’s our choice on how we use the information we encounter, and our choice on what information we feed ourselves.

Some of that information is verifiable facts. Thoughts such as, “It’s not a good time right now,” however, are not facts. They are evaluations of the facts we are paying attention to, and those evaluations are also our choice. If we decide to do something, though it may be hard, and we’ll definitely encounter challenges, we can achieve it. Rather than basing our decisions on the situation around us, we can gradually change our situation to fit our choices.

This especially works when we choose what’s good for our true selves in our hearts, which, because of the inherent nature of our true selves, is always in alignment with the good of all.

Try these four things to help you start making healthy, life-giving choices today.

  1. Carefully look at the information your mind has been playing with. Does it like to dwell on the negative? Does it say, “I have no time; I’m too busy. I’m out of shape. I don’t like exercising. It’s not a good time; I’d rather start later,”? Is this litany on constant repeat? Recognizing the information at work in your mind, coloring your perspective, lets you begin to separate from the information and make clearer choices.
  2. Listen to your heart. Breathe comfortably, letting your chest rise and fall, and turn your awareness to the center of your chest. Continue to breathe until you have a feeling of ease and freedom in your chest. Pose the question to your heart center in your chest: “What do I really want?”
  3. Plan-Do-Check-Act. Stimulate your lower abdomen by rhythmically tapping it with your fists or palms (Abdominal Tapping) or by moving your abdominal muscles toward and away from your back (Intestinal Exercise). Keeping your awareness on this area while you tap, ask your abdomen, “How should I do it?” Answers may pop up in your mind, or at least with time, you’ll gain the mental clarity to make a clear plan for achieving your goal. As you carry out your plan, check your progress and make any adjustments needed.
  4. Give yourself positive praise. Feed yourself a healthy diet of positive information. Recognize your successes and see your failures as means of growth and improvement. Positive praise does not mean being deluded or narcissistic. When you look carefully, you can find the silver lining that prevents you from getting stuck in doubt, fear, and confusion. Positive information propels you toward your goal.

I hope you feel empowered to be strong and choose what you really want without fear.

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