Pictured here are just a few of the wonderful women I take class with at the gym these days. They inspire me. Powerful, full of life force, strong, determined. None of us qualify as ‘young’ I suppose, though I’d like to think we’re a pretty vibrant lot. We push ourselves hard; we encourage and cajole one another; we keep each other going. It takes a village, as they say.

I would suggest that it also takes the right goal. It’s important to me now to stay aware of why I work out because if I’m doing it for the wrong reasons I can very easily get discouraged, and my success turns into failure.

At 20, 30, even 40, I went to the gym for different reasons. Back then, it may have been to look good in my summer bikini or to impress a potential partner. These days, it’s to stay connected to my inner fire, to give myself a dose of the best anti-depressant I know of, to keep my blood sugar down, to keep my body functioning as well as it can for as long as it can, so I can keep doing the things I love to do for as long as I’m able.

These feel like worthy goals for this stage in my life. With these goals, every day I get to the gym is a success. I’m too old to wear a bikini (I know, I know, some of you will debate me on this, but it is NOT happening, say what you will) and I’m way too tired of falling up short every time I look in the mirror naked. My job is to champion myself, not knock myself down. Though the Yoga Sutras teach us to practice discipline (tapas), they also teach us that that discipline should be uplifting, not discouraging.

The next time you go to the gym – or the yoga mat, the pool, the park, the bike, or whatever – ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What do I want out of this?” If the goal is a good one, you’ll feel successful and empowered when you’re done and all day long. If you’re berating yourself in the midst of it (or afterward), that could be a sign that it’s time to adjust your goal and to establish some new healthier, more supportive, dare I say life-stage-appropriate goals. ‘Cuz life is too short to spend it feeling like a failure.

Today, I wish you a little discipline, a dollop of humor, plus a whole lotta compassion, compassion, compassion.