Brushing our teeth does not come naturally. We need someone, who knows how good it is for us, to be willing to go through this battle every time until, years later, we finally do it on our own. It’s just not particularly fun or joyful. It’s brushing your teeth.
So parents stands in bathroom doorways making sure kids are brushing their teeth.
When I was 22 years old, I had a tooth pulled. I hadn’t been to the dentist in almost ten years and I’m sure I wasn’t taking very good care of my teeth. But suddenly my tooth hurt horribly. With no money and no dental insurance, the option was to have it pulled. I think it cost $75 back then.
Since then, I have paid dearly for not taking good care of my teeth. Once I got dental insurance, I started trying to repair the damage. With what I have paid for in crowns and other repairs, I could have bought a Honda Civic.
Understanding the consequences is one of the things that motivates me to brush and floss, keep my twice a year cleanings even though I don’t have insurance now (do you know how much a cleaning costs?!), and generally take the best care of my teeth that I know how. The joy, if I feel it, is when I walk out of the dentist office knowing that I did it and feeling proud of myself for taking good care of myself now.
Exercise is the same. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us. We need someone to stand in our doorway and make us do it. We procrastinate, try to sneak out of it, and try to make it look like we’ve done it. It can be a battle that takes years to become a habit.
But we know the cost of not doing it. We know.
I learned something about myself on this journey towards health and fitness. I learned that it’s not the exercise I love, it is the feeling of “I did it” that is a powerful motivator for me. I learned that I find joy in people, camaraderie, loud music and nature so I have made those things part of my daily exercise. And I’ve learned how to connect it all.
I know that brushing my teeth not only makes my teeth look better and my breath smell a whole lot better, it supports me taking good care of myself. It keeps me from having to get those teeth pulled.
I know that exercise not only helps me get to my desired body weight, it supports my health in a radical way. It keeps me from all the health consequences that so many are suffering from; illness, pain, metabolic disorders. It is so much more than a daily habit that I need to learn how to slog out. It is confidence in knowing I did my best. It is a one step at a time path to joy.