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The Life-Changing Magic of Exercise: Inspired by Marie Kondo

Why can't there be a bit more magic in our daily exercise routine?

Bought from Shutterstock
Source: Bought from Shutterstock

Pair anything with ‘life-changing’ and it’s intriguing. Top it with ‘magic’, and, hey, I’m in! That’s how I felt about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever.

I bought the book, and converted! This lady had a method for everything, including how to make nice to your clothes and thank them for keeping you warm and beautiful.

Where I come from, we don’t follow orders. We improvise. So, I started with the underwear drawer, then, instead of following the priestess’s commands and piling ALL my clothes on the floor, I breezed through my shirts and moved on to the bookcase. When we moved in, some seven years ago, the bookcase was one of my biggest joys – delightfully roomy, everything stacked or placed by category. Walking past it gave me joy. This joy had become a thing of the past, with books we found, bought and received.

Kondo’s criterion for what stays and what goes: only keep the things that make you happy. I disposed of books that were given as presents. My soulmate and new bff (others refer to her and her method as KonMari) says the purpose of the gift is to be given. So the books have already served their purpose. Letting go made easy.

An hour and five tote bags full of books later – soon to be donated – bookcase joy was restored, and life was better.

I was covered in dust. Not magic dust. Just plain old dust. But I was happy. Isn’t this what magic is all about?

I believe the lessons I learned from the bookcase and underwear drawer overhaul carry over to diet and exercise too:

1. Go it with panache! Gotta hand it to KonMari, a dreary and much dreaded hour of going over the books was sprinkled with magic. I wasn’t just cleaning up and getting dust up my nostrils, I was following the secrets of the most organized Japanese lady in the entire universe. Don’t just drag yourself to exercise. Don’t much Find something that inspires you and gives you that oomph when you do it.

2. Press the ‘restart’ button. It’s not more of the same. I cleared out the odd book here and there, then let it pile. But this was special. You have started to go to the gym before, then let it slide. This time, it’s different! You are committing for life. If you believe it, chances are you can turn it into a reality.

Bought from Shutterstock
Source: Bought from Shutterstock

3. Aim big! But plan small. Kondo promises your life will never be the same, and your house will be tidy forever. Forget what you know about tidying, dieting or exercising – this is the real deal. So much of health habits, exercise, nutrition, seems like an endless project you are reluctant to take on. But you need to. Plan to be an athlete, but also plan your first, second, and third step. The storage room followed the bookcase. We shall see what's next!

4. This takes time, effort, and sweat! Real Talk. KonMari recommends putting all your clothes on the floor, and only putting back what brings you joy. This can take an entire day. What about your documents? She offers to dispose of them all, but since you are not going to do that, the small print of her book mentions that the cleansing does take a while. But you can get there!

5. Find a guru! Amazing what an authoritative, not to say zealous, Japanese lady had me do. She admits to being an organization and tidiness freak since she was 5 (!) years old. She knows her stuff, from her white website, to her meticulous bangs. I am not the only one who converted and found herself clearing bag upon bag out of the house. Find an exercise guru you believe in, and get psyched about them.

6. You know you want it. Yes, you too, even though you claim clutter is your natural state of being. Something about tidiness and cleanliness just feels right. So does exercising. Even if you’ve been living in blissful denial, you’ll feel better when you get going. Ask KonMari. To her, tidiness is bliss.

7. Spark joy. This is the title of KonMari's newest book, and it applies here too. Joy is key. It's a wonderfully subjective benchmark for deciding what is right for you. If your exercise routine feels like capital punishment, Marie Kondo does not approve. Find something you that brings you joy, even if coupled with challenge.

Look at me, a self-proclaimed KonMari expert after one reading, and then one hour of book sorting. Plus an hour on the bedside table. Well, and two hours buried in the storage room, which now looks like a show room for some high-end shelf manufacturer. But still, you cannot argue with five bags full of books, with neat drawers, a storage room restored to functionality, or with the sense of accomplishment. Not to mention the weird cheerfulness and can-do! Approach that accompany it.

Grab your exercise gear from the bottom of your mess. KonMari is rooting for you already!