We had an extra day, February 29. What could we do with it? My colleagues threw parties or went out to dinner with friends even though it was a weekday. In Ireland, Leap Year Day used to be the one day every 4 years that it was acceptable for a woman to propose marriage to a man.
Sure, there are really 365.24 days in every year, but Leap Year Day feels like a free day. It’s exempt from the rules.
I’ve had a few fitness experiences that got me thinking about the possible in the same way. These “free” days away from daily life opened the door for a hike in the rain, a long bike ride parallel to a beautiful sunset, yoga in the mountains.
These simple experiences changed my perception about health. About what my body is capable of. What it feels like to eat clean and breathe clean air. How good it feels to make time for fitness.
I could have gone for a sunset bike ride any day, but it took a special event to get me to do it for the first time. (And I’ve made time for many since.)
I think we need to step outside of routine every now and then. It’s the only way to stop seeing what we want as a wish list and start seeing it as something we can have now—and as often as we like.
People worry that what happens at fitness camp will stay at fitness camp. It could. But I have always taken permanent change away. Even if I didn’t come home and eat fresh raw food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I kept the insight I had gleaned about my habits, diet, wants. Fitness also became more important to me.
Also, if you think your money would be better spent on a new piece of exercise equipment because you’ll get daily use out of it, you’re wrong. The residual benefits that we get from a single experience will almost always be last longer and be more powerful than what we get from a material item. (Dunn Gilbert Wilson 2010)
It’s kind of like Seth Godin’s analogy of studying the map vs. calibrating the compass. On the surface, achieving fitness is about the right techniques and gear—the map to fitness. But the foundation of a successful regimen is being in touch with our bodies and prizing our health. This is our fitness compass, and it will keep us on track even as science, fads and fitness gadgets change.
Complete immersion in a new, healthier environment, even for just a day, is a compass calibrator. It removes the conflicts of daily life – work, responsibilities, cravings, distractions, sabotage. It can help us raise the bar on what we expect from life and from ourselves.
Let’s see a Garmin Forerunner 310XT do that.
So is it time for a change of scenery?
Take a cycling trip through Italy, sign up for a wellness or weight loss retreat, do a one-day fitness challenge. Even a pure leisure vacation could help you hit the reset button.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from a “free day”: you’ll see that you deserve more every day. Not in the future, but now.