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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Warning: Exercise Can Be Habit-Forming

When I was in my twenties (a long time ago), I recall being able to skimp on physical training right up to the moment of taking a PT test and still pass with flying colors.  Those days are long over, and it was never very wise to simply show up on test day and expect to avoid injury while embarking on a two-mile run as well as a push-up and sit-up bonanza.

But how can exercise be formed into a habit?  Guilt doesn't work, and peer pressure is equally ineffective.  The answer is simply to pair the activity with a recognizable reward and allow enough time for the link to sink in.  For me, the reward that worked the best was pairing my exercise with listening to my iPod.  There isn't generally enough time in my day/night to sit down and listen to music, so when I bought a bunch of tunes to load on my device, it was a real treat to be able to hear them shuffle through.

At first, I didn't make the connection between the desire to hear music and the desire to make daily exercise an ingrained habit.  But when my iPod ran out of charge one day in the middle of my 4-mile run, I felt cheated and was very tempted to just quit the exercise for the day.  There is definite power in the link between the reward and the habit that you want to form.  The key is to figure out what makes you happy, and pair one of those things with an exercise activity, and before long, you will be in the habit!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thank You For Your Service

A famous American writer and poet, Maya Angelou, is credited as saying "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"  How right she is...recently, I took note of what it means to me personally when someone, a stranger, stops me to thank me for my service.

I was in a local grocery store parking lot loading up my trunk with the bags when I noticed a pick-up truck parked a few feet away.  There was a middle-aged man sitting at the wheel watching me as I slammed the trunk shut.  He was clearly hoping to catch my eye to speak to me, so I made it easier by looking his way and smiling...he simply said, "thank you for your service."  It took me a second to realize that he was clued in to my military connections because I was wearing a combat support hospital logo shirt that day.  That was my only "uniform," but he knew that it represented service to this Nation.

"You're so welcome and so worth it," I replied as I climbed into my car.  He took an extra second to ask me if I was a doctor...not sure how he figured that out, but I let him know that he had guessed correctly.  

It was at that moment, that I truly felt amazed at the mutual good feeling that passed between two strangers in a parking lot in these United States of America - he felt good about saying thanks, and I felt good about letting him know that his gratitude was appreciated.