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Half a Workout Is Better Than No Workout

Last updated on October 13, 2020

Just a few minutes of exercise gives almost the same benefits as a full workout.

I Got Out of the Habit Last Month

For the past year or so, I’ve been doing a nice 20-minute workout three times a week before I start my day. I love to go outside in the early morning and move my muscles and work up a sweat before I shower.

Just doing some push-ups, pull-ups and other exercises at that time of day makes me feel great all day long. Not to mention I’ve gained about 15 pounds of muscle weight this past year which feels good to me (I tend to be quite skinny).

But last month, it didn’t happen. It was a combination of waking up later, playing too much pickleball, and just not having the time in the morning like I used to.

I Couldn’t Do It Perfectly So I Quit

I didn’t mean to quit, but that’s what happened. I would get up, look at the clock and think, “There’s not enough time today.” And then I’d feel badly about it, but what could I do? Even when I woke up early, I stopped wanting to do my workout. The habit had been broken.

Then one day, after about a month of not working out, I woke up early and thought, “Let’s do it today!” And I dd. It felt great, like it always does. And I decided I want to keep it up three times a week as I had done before. 

That’s Worked Great for a Week or So

But then one morning, I woke up later again. There was no time. My mind went immediately to, “Oh, well! Too bad.” And the familiar feeling of remorse came in. I really wanted to do my workout, but there was no time.

No time until… without doing any kind of formal inquiry I realized that my assumption was not really true! I didn’t have time for a full workout, but I did have time for 10 minutes (a half a workout). And I could reduce my bathroom routine by half as well. And do a little shorter meditation.

And That’s What I Did

And it felt great. I did enough workout to feel strong in my body all day. I took care of the basics in my bathroom routine, and I had enough meditation to feel grounded that morning.

You may be wondering why I’m sharing this with you. The reason is that this same mindset can also apply to doing The Work. Are you waiting for the perfect conditions before starting a routine of doing The Work? Are you demanding a certain amount of time each day to do it?

You may be stopping yourself without knowing it with the desire to do a good job. When it comes to routines and ongoing practices like The Work of Byron Katie, it’s the little bit every day that makes the difference. Even a tiny bit some days keeps the momentum going.

We Support This Approach in Inquiry Circle

For this very reason in Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group for doing The Work, we have templates for doing just a part of The Work, not just templates for doing a whole piece of work.

Some days, there is just time for questions 1-4, not turnarounds. That’s no problem. We just use a “snippet” template to do The Work that day. And then come back the next day and use another snippet template to do the turnarounds.

I encourage you to take this approach at home too. If you can’t complete a piece of work one day, just stop when you’re out of time. Then come back and continue the next time you have time. This simple approach allows for The Work to get done within the limitations of a busy life.

Have a great week,

“It does take patience to continue doing The Work as a daily practice, or at least as a regular practice. People who truly want to end their suffering are able to find that patience. Questioning your stressful thoughts can be difficult, but it’s a lot more difficult not to question them. When people are interested in doing The Work, they notice that sometimes they do it and sometimes they don’t—at first. But if you make a commitment to doing The Work for breakfast every day, it starts waking up in you. You no longer do it, it does you. It becomes natural, automatic, like breathing.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Further reading: Why The Work of Byron Katie Works Well as a Daily Practice

About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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