The joy of moving

Trail running in the mountains around Annecy.

My personal path to an active lifestyle.

Someone once told me “life is moving, you should too” , while explaining to me why they liked to exercise. It stuck. At the time, I was already running regularly, but I didn’t always like it. Now I enjoy it all the time. I see exercising as the door to a better — physical and mental — wellbeing and a deeper understanding of oneself.

The trigger

I started exercising to lose weight. The beginning of university life was all about studying, socializing and partying. Exercising passed last in my list of priorities and I forgot to take care of myself. Feeding on fast-food, chocolate and coffee, especially during the exam period, I had gained weight without realising it. My last year of university, good friends, and an extra size of pants finally made me acknowledge it. This motivated me to get moving!

Tough Start

Motivated to improve my performance in the soccer field, I started running. I would run 5 km three times a week and do strength training on the other days. I made sure I was active everyday, putting on music when I was not feeling motivated. Loud and upbeat music helped me disconnect from my body and ignore that little voice asking “are we there yet?”

Change of mindset

Annecy lake

The role of effort

I started alternating my runs: somedays I wanted to breathe heavily, feel the muscle strain, and sweat. Other days I just wanted to move for the pleasure of it. The intense runs helped me progress and improve my fitness level to then be capable of fully enjoying a light run where I’d stay in a comfortable effort zone.

The psychological and mental benefits of exercising

I discovered some unexpected benefits from exercising: beyond a stronger physical condition and higher self-confidence, I had gained emotional stability.

Moving daily

I bike to work everyday, 10 km per trip, that is 100 km per week, or more than 4,000 km per year! It is one of the best ways I have to integrate exercise into my days. I feel lucky I have this opportunity. Aside from helping keep a good metabolism, it allows me to gently wake-up my body in the mornings, and clear my thoughts on evenings. It is also a great moment to reflect on those tough questions I have not been able to answer, as well as easier ones like “what’s for dinner tonight?”

Evening bike ride back home from CIXI

My strategy for consistency

Just do it

Sometimes we think about it too long before we go out for a run, trying to motivate ourselves to step out of the door. Do not overthink it. Just get dressed and step out. You will feel better once you are outside. And you will feel even better after a 30 min run, or walk, than if you spent 30 minutes thinking about it.

Compassion

Do not be harsh on yourself. If you do not feel like going out, don’t. You deserve to rest or to have a lazy day even when you had planned otherwise. Get over your decision and do not feel guilty about it, it is counterproductive. Just fully enjoy your day off, without remorse to come back stronger the next day.

Pleasure

Do not force yourself to do an intense run if you do not feel like it. You risk to be put-off and have difficulty finding motivation for your next run. Just listen to yourself, do what feels right, only as far as pleasure goes

Proactivity

Sometimes it might be dark, cold and rainy outside. Do not let the external elements discourage you. You can take measures to be comfortable during most conditions: a hat for the rain, extra layers for the cold, and a headlamp for the dark. You might be happy to realise that you will enjoy these conditions more than you expected; they bring diversity to the landscape and the practice.

Morning run view (Annecy lake and the Bauges mountain range from Talabar at Veyrier).

The real reason behind staying active

Unlocking the joy of moving is key to embracing an active lifestyle, which is important for our wellbeing, physical and mental, and our long term vitality. Daily exercise helps us stay strong and capable throughout time, slowing down the effect of the years on our bodies. In a more indirect way, it also helps us filter out the noise of our lives, letting us focus on what really matters.

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