Jack LaLane, fitness guru, had a saying, “Exercise is king, nutrition is queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.” I’ve noticed, in my adult life, every time I start eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk, I just feel like exercising. And every time I increase my exercise, I am hungrier for healthy food: smoothies, salads, fruit, because they are clean-burning energy foods.
When you aren’t exercising, you forget how GOOD it feels after a workout. I barely worked out at all in the fall, and I forgot how amazing a hard, sweaty workout feels. All I remembered was the hard part of the equation.
There are 2 tricks I use to get myself back into the habit of exercising. The first is to set a time minimum. I will be on this treadmill for 30 minutes (I hate running in the cold). The second is to realize that I am not in shape enough to run for the entire half an hour.
If you’ve ever checked out the Couch to 5K program, that’s the trick I use to keep going. We get stuck in this mindset that we have to get out there and kill ourselves when we are first starting out OR that we should only do 5 minutes, because that is how long we can run. Five minutes is a good start when you are first laying down a habit, but when you have the habit and you are looking to increase your fitness, it’s good to exercise longer.
So once your muscles are warm, you start running, when you feel you heart rate pounding and it’s hurting too much, walk for a while, then run some more, then walk, run, walk, and so on. By doing this you will increase your fitness surprisingly quickly.
I never used the Couch to 5K program exactly, but I used the concept to keep myself from quitting after 7 minutes when my legs were too tired to run another step. You can use the same concept if you can’t run at all. Walk/bike/swim at a faster rate for some of the time and slow down when you get tired.
I picked up my running habit again about a month ago. When I started running ten minutes was tough, if not impossible. Just yesterday, I ran for 30 minutes straight, then walked for 3 minutes until my heart rate came down, and then ran 27 more minutes. If you’ve never ran before in your life, you won’t advance that quickly, but you will gain fitness at an astounding rate.
I’ve read plenty of stories about people that went from couch potato to running a marathon in a year or 2. I don’t have time to run a marathon. I only had an hour to run yesterday, because my mother was visiting and watching Caleb.
But you don’t have to go to the gym or run, there are lots of things you can do in one place while your small children are playing. Jumping jacks, squat thrusts, burpees, squats, crunches, pushups, run up and down the stairs (great workout), and lots more I can’t think of right now.
If you have a baby, you may never have that 30 minutes at a time, but you can do 15 minutes as soon as she falls asleep, and 5 minutes while she’s being happy not being held for once. You can strap him to your back and go for a difficult hike. Jogging strollers are always good, if you have a kid that will tolerate them (I didn’t).
The point is you should be doing 30-60 minutes of exercise every day. You need to make it a priority. Do whatever you can to motivate yourself. If your mother is overweight and can’t run around with her grandchildren, use that as your motivation. If you are overweight and can’t run around with your kids, use that. If you want to be super fit, use that. If you want to look good in a bathing suit, use that.
When you are moving, use whatever you can to keep moving. At the gym, I try to run everyone in the room down. The people that were there when I came into the room, better not be the same people as when I leave the room. Pick the fittest person in the room (if you are somewhat fit) and try not to stop running before she or he does.
If you are lucky enough to be able to run away from your home, pick a place to run to. I’m going to run to the Dollar General to get a new toothbrush and run back.
If you are tired that day, give yourself permission to slack off, go easy, but NOT to skip the workout. If you normally run, walk it. If you skip, then something else will fill that time slot, and you might get out of the habit of exercising.
I am going to start a running/walking group this spring and summer at this park that has a walking path that goes around the playground. I want to start a movement of people moving. Mothers especially need to move, if for no other reason than to blow off steam. I’ll let you know how it goes. My start date is the second week of April.
Tell me, what kind of exercise do you like to do? How do you motivate yourself? What are your tricks to keep up the habit?