Starting this blog, my intention was to cover each of the four pillars of fitness - food, movement, sleep, and stress. I covered food, but then yesterday I got sidetracked and talked about ancestral health. It served a purpose, though, because that perspective impacts each of the four pillars. It's the reason behind my main point on food - eat whole food.
Today I'm getting sidetracked too, but again the topic has wide ranging impact. Gratitude is something that gets lip service, but actually practicing it brings profound changes. I used to approach training the way many do - "I have to workout today" - a chore. But when I got educated about fitness I developed a greater appreciation for the cycle of stress/rest/adaptation. We apply a stress (exercise) to the body, and then during a period of rest the body responds with an adaptation (getting stronger, faster, etc.). The thing is, you can't overdo the exercise part. It must be brief compared to the rest period, and then you can't exercise again until the next day. I realized I had to be judicious with my training. There are a lot of different goals (strength, weight loss, hypertrophy, etc.), and they all require different approaches. Your stress resource is limited.
This education shifted my mindset from "I have to workout today" to "I only get to workout once today". Can you see the Jedi mind trick? It's the same reality, but viewed differently through the lens of gratitude. In my mind I think, "Wow, isn't this great? I get to push my body to its limit today (but I only get one shot at it), and tomorrow it will grow stronger". Gratitude.
And it doesn't stop with exercise. Gratitude seeps into all four pillars. Isn't this great? I get to feed my body nutritious food that replenishes me. I get to sleep in my bed and rest my mind while my body rejuvenates. And stress? Gratitude turns stress on its head. It is a game changer.
So, how do we improve our gratitude? Well, it's just like anything else. The more you practice it, the better you get at it. There is a saying. The things you appreciate... appreciate. One thing you can do to strengthen your practice is to keep a gratitude journal. I use the one in the link. You could just use a plain notebook, but this one provides a little bit of structure which helps to cement the daily habit. For me it's money well spent.