Lower your standard

If you’re setting your standard so high that it stops you from doing anything at all, consider lowering your standard.

Yes I said that. 

Now let’s use some common sense here: If you’re already getting adequate physical activity, this message is not for you. 

If you find yourself “wanting” to do more but just not getting to it, this message is for you. 


I haven’t felt like blogging, so I gave myself a temporary break from my original goal to post something every other week. 

I knew the break wouldn’t be forever – just long enough to examine what’s bugging me, why writing these posts sometimes feels like more effort than fun.

My own too-high standards

One thing I already know about myself is this: Thanks to my excellent journalism training as a younger adult, I set my standards for writing too high. Before I even decide to write something it has to be really important, something newsworthy, something so true that it can be substantiated by many other sources. It also has to be well organized and answer the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why).

I don’t let myself just write – at least not when I’m writing for others.

I’m not saying all my blogs have risen to this standard, but that the idea of the standard stops me from doing it more regularly.

What does this have to do with you?
I see the same thing all the time with people trying to make a habit of getting more physical activity.

What former athletes and couch potatoes have in common

Sometimes this is because they have a history of being athletic (even if that history dates back more than 20 years), and they think getting “proper exercise” should be at least an hour long, cause lots of sweating, and result in extreme soreness, manifesting as the inability to rise from the toilet without wincing, or being unable to lift a blow dryer.

Other people experience the paralysis because they don’t have much experience being active, and they think “exercise” by definition must involve activities they don’t feel competent to perform – or just don’t want to.

All of this is as much a myth as my own irrational idea that, in order for me to share some wisdom with you about healthy movement, it has to be packaged in an award winning essay. 

A good standard

What you need to do is move your body in some way – preferably every day, several times a day, for at least a few minutes. If not every day, then every day that you can. 

Walk, stretch, do a few things you remember from yoga class years ago. 

Lie on the floor and do my favorite anti-sitting exercise.

Do what feels good, even a little fun. Just do something in which you’re not slumped in a chair or on the couch, in a car, train or plane. 

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Will these simple activities burn thousands of calories or grow big biceps? Of course not. But they will start the process of improving your health in more ways than you might realize.

And I have seen how a few little bouts of movement here and there often lead to more activity over time.

But, as with all new ventures, we have to start somewhere.

So let’s use this blog post as an example of a small step:

It doesn’t pass the absurdly high standard I “wish” I met for everything I write. But I flexed my writing-and-sharing muscle a little and hopefully produced a message that has some useful information for somebody. 

If I just keep working on it, I’ll get better, it will come more naturally and get easier – just like your habit of getting more movement.

So as a starting place you might need to lower your standard, give yourself a break and see what unfolds from there.

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