Shauna Ahern set out to achieve February's Healthy Habits goal of exercising more (in Shauna's case, we quantified that as 20 minutes of exercise, 3 times per week). She achieved that goal, and most importantly, she added exercise to her life as a source of joy, not a chore.
But there were a couple of interesting side effect to this exercise, focus, and self-care. Shauna got a lot of other things done, too:
1. Shauna's house is in order (literally). Before taking on the exercise challenge, Shauna's good friends Anita and Cameron came to visit, and decided to do a house project together: clean the kitchen. Shauna, her husband Danny, Anita, and Cameron removed everything from the kitchen, cleaned it, then returned only what was useful. The simple act of removing items from the space helped Shauna and Danny lose the items that were adding clutter, not value to the kitchen space.
Inspired by this process, Shauna purged the other rooms of her house this month, including her office, the living room, bathroom, and bedroom. I'm convinced that if we said, "We're going to clean your house this month" it could have felt overwhelming, but after having implementing a useful process with one room, Shauna was able to clean out the other rooms.
2. Shauna takes the weekend off: Over the past few years, Shauna has become one of the leading voices in social media. She earned that position by writing, and being present on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. So on the one hand, she needs to continue to be a part of the conversation. But on the other hand, how connected can a person be? Shauna decided to take weekends off, and as she says: "Nobody dies if I don't answer an email for two days." For more on this, visit read her recent post on determining when enough is enough.
3. Shauna lowered her center of gravity: Now that Shauna is exercising more and spending less time in front of the computer, she describes herself as being "in her body." Shauna has always been a book person, a word person, and describes herself as someone who knows how to be in her head. That head takes on new challenges by thinking, thinking, thinking through them.
In contrast, when she's in her body, she feels more, in contrast to all that thinking. Anxiety resides in her head, but as she lowers her center of gravity from her head down into her body, she feels more calm, more grounded. She's in her body, not in her head. In her body, she feels things differently. She feels more present.
4. Shauna made exercise fun and social: Exercise is one of those pesky "shoulds." Shauna knew that she "needed" to exercise; it was something that she "should" do. Like the dishes, the laundry, changing diapers. Blech. Who needs another chore? By turning that obligation into something fun, like taking a walk-and-talk with her friend Alejandra, dancing with her husband and daughter, or even -- get this -- purchasing a family membership to the town pool and taking water aerobics classes taught by a good friend, Shauna made exercise fun. Going to the gym is never going to be fun for Shauna. Neither is running in the rain or snow. But playing with her friends and family? Yes. Always.
Shauna, thank you so much for participating in Cooking Light's Healthy Habits Challenge, and letting us read along as you made so many positive changes in your life. You continue to insipre us all.