Written by Magdalena Sedkiewicz
I’m going to write it today… nah, it’s too late… tomorrow? Maybe tomorrow… – This is how I negotiated with myself writing this text. It was about two weeks ago…
I had an idea. I made notes to be sure I include here nice theories can be of some use for you – dear reader who is going to start the Squats Challenge soon. I even remembered some technical things considering those exercises. And… I didn’t have enough motivation for two weeks to just take a seat and write it all down. One hour of work and it’s done. Sounds familiar?
As logical as Spock
Some of us need some nice facts to get at least a bit motivated. I’m pretty sure you know why it’s important to exercise, otherwise you would not train HEMA. Still, some exercises seem weird.
Squats represent those exercises that improve your leg muscles performance. But still, you may think of them as unnecessary considering any footwork you may enjoy during your training. It is important to remember, though, that ordinary footwork develops mostly a dominant part of your body. So if you’re right handed and you fight standing in a right handed fencing position you mostly develop the right side of your body. Of course, handling a sword requires in many cases usage of both hands, but still, everybody has their favourite positions. And if you’re right handed I bet you would prefer those positions in which your right foot is in front of you.
To avoid inequality in muscle development your coach should apply footwork for both sides during every training session. Mostly for your dominant and some for the side you use less. This regime is present in sport fencing, but unfortunately not many historical fencing groups follow that. So to be sure that you don’t get any contusions it’s good to take a careful look at how you train, which muscles you use most and how to strengthen the weaker side. Such exercises as squats involve muscle work from both right and left side, ensuring equal development.
Spock would approve, wouldn’t he? 😉
It really doesn’t matter whether you plan your master thesis, wedding or just extra exercises. Or you’re making some resolutions. To make sure your plan works you need to consider factors that may change the course of action.
In case of any resolution it’s good to be as specific as possible. “I need to exercise more” is just a statement with no further actions involved. I’ve been saying that for a while and nothing happened…. “From Monday to Friday I will exercise 30 minutes just after I wake up ” – this is the message that is a sort of agreement between us, our brain and our body.
Before you write such an agreement down (just to make sure your brain treats it seriously!) think how possible it is for you to achieve what you think you can do. For example I will be able to do the Squat Challenge but a) I need to wake up a bit earlier because later during the day it will be impossible to find time for that, and b) I definitely need to either clean my room to get more space for some squats or dig into my wardrobe to find a warmer clothes for exercising (spring is still quite cold in Poland).
Which exercises can you do, and which shouldn’t you do? Are you going to have enough time? Do you have place? What time of day do you plan to exercise? What happens if you can’t exercise one day? How are you going to make it up?
When setting goals, remember that if the goal is too easy you’re probably going to leave it or you won’t be satisfied with results. If it’s too difficult – you may abandon it because you won’t be able to achieve it, no matter what you do. I had at some point an ambitious plan of exercising every day but having a close deadline for my master thesis certainly does not help. Think about a goal that is just slightly out of your reach – and then try to reach it!
You never walk alone
Ok, you know WHY, HOW and WHAT. Then you do your squats first day, second day… tenth day… But wait, what for… it’s painful, I don’t like it, it’s boring. Can we skip it, please?
Recently I started writing my master thesis. I had that for four semesters, this is my last semester of studies – and if not for the help of a very wise friend I would be still be doing nothing.
It is really difficult to do things for yourself. I can do make-up for myself, to feel better – but still it’s males stares when I walk university corridors that convinces me I should keep doing it. It’s really nice to write a blog because you love writing, but when the amount of readers grow you feel there is a purpose in what you’re doing. Same with exercises.
It’s not a sign of weakness that you need social support. It’s just how human beings work – we’re looking for positive feedback and acceptance because in the course of evolution only humans who had support from a group could survive. Sometimes you need extra motivation from outside to start and then you’ll roll on without extra help.
So – join our Facebook event, share your thoughts, either positive or negative – positive will strengthen us, on the negative we can all work. We all have the same goal – to squat for those 30 days. I find it really motivating that people from completely different countries are going to exercise – it’s really good to feel part of something bigger, and be sure that if your motivation suddenly drops there are going to be people who will motivate you.
How is my MA, by the way? Well… I’m finishing it! All I needed was support from a person I trust – he showed me that I really can do it, I don’t need to wait until university deadlines come closer. He set a deadline for me – and the fact that he cares and he sees I’m fully capable of doing it in the timeline he proposes gave me so much energy that I am really going to make it faster than I expected!
But… how do I start?
Last but not least – you need to do the first step. Thinking about your goal, planning it, preparing setting – it’s all important. But then this crucial moment comes and… well… I am tired… I have a lot of work… maybe another time…
There comes the magic of social media and social support. Squats event starts 1st April. Deadline! So just leave your bed, go to your garden, training hall, wherever you can exercise – and do it. Don’t think about all 30 days. Just about today, about the first step, those first 15 squats. You will worry about the second day tomorrow, and about the third day – day after tomorrow. No need to worry now!
It is also good to provide yourself decent treats. Probably eating sweets while exercising is not the best idea, but there are countless other ways than food intake to reward yourself. E.g. you can buy a book after the first week of the challenge, or just spend 10 minutes more each day on facebook. Whatever works for you. Unless you really love exercising you will need something that will help you continue when muscles ache.
And remember – if something happens and you are not able to exercise it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes we feel like failing to fulfil expectations we had for ourselves and others had for us. But at the end of the day – it’s just one day. Even if more – things in life just happen and we aren’t always prepared for that. So no sweat. If not now maybe next time? For sure keep trying – this is going to strengthen your willpower. And that is something useful not only in the field of exercising.
And here I am. I wrote this text, not only because I wanted to do it, but also because of YOU – Readers who hopefully will find something for themselves in it. In some point, still some time before deadline, I just prepared space (cleaned my desk), made coffee and sat. As simple as that. Sometimes the easiest way to do things is to just do it.
So the last piece of advice I can give you – plan things, think about them, but ONLY about what you have influence on. Otherwise you’re going to get stuck on a carousel of dark thoughts. “Oh my gosh, what happens if I forget?” “What are my neighbours are going to think if I suddenly go to the garden and exercise in the morning?” “I’m not strong enough to exercise 30 days in a row”. Look at your thoughts and decide, whether you have influence on something or not. If not – why bother? If yes – you can change it, and we will be glad to help 😉
The author of this article is wholly responsible for its content. It does not represent the views or positions of Esfinges.
Editor’s note: The “Squat challenge” mentioned in this article refers to this event