brown leaves on the ground
Photo by Hanna Eberhard on Unsplash

Many years ago, I did a 12-week fitness program based on a book called “Body for Life”. Do you remember it? It was all the rage back in the late 90s and new millennium.

Hyped-up programs that promise personal and physical transformation come and go, but there’s one aspect of the “Body for Life” program that has stayed with me. I still use this method when doing any type of cardio exercise, and it also helps me navigate my day-to-day life.

20 minutes of cardio, every other day. 20 minutes, that’s it. This is a metaphor, so stay with me.

After a short warm-up, you increase the intensity every minute on the minute for 4 minutes. At the end of 4 minutes, you go back to where you started and repeat. To measure your intensity, you tune in to how you feel in your body. At level 1 or 2, your breath is easy and your heart rate is normal. At level 10, you’re about to fall out.

You start at level 4 or 5 and by the 4th minute, you increase to level 8 or 9. You don’t get to level 10 until the end, at the very last minute of the workout. So, there’s only 1 minute in the whole workout where you go full out, and then you cool down.

As a workout, it’s amazing because it’s short, and also because it’s remarkably effective.

The most helpful thing about it: It taught me how to check in with myself. It taught me to honor where I am at any given moment. My level 4 on Wednesday might be different than my level 4 on Friday. The emphasis is never on how fast I’m going or how my pace measures up to anyone else. All that matters is how my body feels, on a scale of 1-10.

For the method to work, I have to be honest with myself.

When you’re honest with yourself, you can navigate all sorts situations and seasons in life that require extra effort. I like to imagine a perfect world where I’m cruising between levels 4-6 all the time. You know the phrase, It’s a marathon, not a sprint? Life may be a marathon, but some days are an all-out sprint.

Figuratively speaking, sprinting all day, every day isn’t sustainable. But if we stay tuned in to our bodies and bring honesty, discernment and presence to any given situation, we can navigate the sliding scale. When extra energy is needed and we’ve got it, we can bring it. When we need to slow down, we can do so without shame or guilt.

As with most things, it’s not one or the other. It’s one AND the other.

Book news:

The books are here!

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered “Girl in the Spotlight.” I’ll spend the next several days signing and mailing them out to you so you’ll get your copy on or before the book’s official launch day on October 3.

If you missed the pre-order, you’ll have a chance to order the book from your favorite bookseller when it’s officially released on October 3. So mark your calendars and stay tuned!

You can also get signed copies of the book at my Charleston launch party. Grab your free ticket here.

Come to my launch party