When One Simple Change can Shift your Life
Michael Hyatt urges his readers to run a half-Marathon. He says, “Just by beginning, you will feel your life begin to shift.”
“Things shifting”–I heard that phrase a lot in Charismatic circles, things shifting in heavenly realms, due to our prayers or God’s sovereign will, a shift later evident on earth.
But, of course, things can also begin to shift due to our own actions, which can unleash a cascade of positive changes. And rather to my own surprise, I’ve discovered in mid-life that getting more physically active is one of the best way to shift things in our lives, whether writers’ block, or the sluggishness which leads to messiness, weight gain, ill-health, and general malaise.
And so, I have signed up for a 5K race.
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And how do I expect to see my life begin to shift?
I know what to expect, since I’ve undertaken two physical challenges this year: the 5K Race for Life in Oxford, which I successfully completed, and a 7K in Hyde Park, London.
- I will sleep solidly, and wake earlier and well-rested.
- My brain will be flooded with endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, powerful neurotransmitters which affect mood. I will feel more euphoric.
- This alertness and sense of well-being (and the good sleep) will lead to writing more, and better.
- The time and energy expended training will naturally lead to eating healthily, both for the energy to exercise, and through a natural desire not to sabotage myself.
- My metabolism will change through gaining more metabolically active muscle, thus burning more calories even when at rest; so, God willing, I should continue to lose weight.
- Spiritually, I really sense God on long walks.
- When I am training for an event, walking 3-4 miles a day, I use the rest of my time better.
- I will have more confidence for the other challenges of my life.
Enormous changes through the simple act of signing up for a race! So much of our health, mental health and the outcome of our lives lies in our own hands; it makes me feel sad that I did not commit to vigorous exercise earlier.
Of course, as Charles Duhigg says in his fascinating The Power of Habit, exercise is just one of the “keystone habits” which change your life. Exercising discipline in any of these areas gradually helps you be disciplined in the others: paying off debt; early rising; healthful eating (and as Flylady says) running an orderly, organized house.
I’ve heard it said, “If you got the benefits of exercise in a pill, you’d do anything to get it.” Instead, it’s available free at the end of a three mile walk—if it’s walked daily!
Anita Mathias is the author of Wandering Between Two Worlds (Benediction Classics, 2007). She has won a writing fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The London Magazine, Commonweal, America, The Christian Century, and The Best Spiritual Writing anthologies.