So, confession time…I have slacked off on my exercise routine. OK, like really slacked off. I have been taking my fitness routine seriously for the last four years. And, happily, I have been successful at including some form of weekly exercise into my healthy lifestyle. Until recently that is. Can you relate? I read this quote that said, “if the only workout you’ve done over the past few weeks is beating yourself up for being lazy, it’s time to forgive and move on.” What choice do we have but to move on? Forgive yourself and get to work. That is what I decided to do. It is normal for life to have its ups and downs. And sometimes the down can be a big hole that can side track us. But you can get back on track!
We all know that starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, lift your mood, energize you, help you lose weight — and even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. Working exercise into your routine takes a lot of determination, and sticking to it in the long term requires discipline. Maybe you are considering starting to exercise but don’t know where to begin. Or maybe like me, you at one time, used to enjoy exercise but fell off the wagon. Yes, I know what you are thinking…but it is so hard to start all over again. I know, I know. We have all been there. For me, the other day I decided I had to just start somewhere. So, I went to my local park and walked for thirty minutes and boy, did it feel good to get moving. Slow, yes, but I could feel my self confidence grow. The next day I went to my gym. Gasp! Yup. I did it. I walked in with fake confidence (you know, fake it til you make it) and went to the cardio machines. I got on the treadmill, blasted my music, and walked for thirty minutes. Of course I chose to ignore the fact that I was really out of shape. And yes, I had to quiet the negative thoughts and insecurities in my head. And you know what happened, I really enjoyed it! I felt a part of me that I love, come back to life. The gym can be an intimidating place for many of us, and if you’re overweight or just plain inexperienced you might be afraid that people are staring or judging you. Honestly, most of the time, everyone at the gym is focusing on themselves. I was happy I made the decision to go. In the past, exercising with a friend or taking a class at my gym was super helpful to motivate me to stick with it.
My treadmill wasn’t at full speed and thirty minutes is a decent amount of time, but I wanted to start small. That is being realistic, because I am not at the same fitness level I was at previously. But if I keep with it, I will be again. Know that any movement is good movement. The following day I couldn’t fit it into my hectic schedule but I didn’t beat myself up. I chose to be flexible and give myself compassionate accountability. Remember to listen to your body. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Something else I have found helpful in the past is to break things up if I have to. You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time, so you can weave in activity throughout your day. Shorter but more-frequent sessions have aerobic benefits, too. Exercising in short sessions a few times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session. Even the day I took off was filled with lots of walking and errands which I am sure benefited my body. My goal is to start monitoring my activity as I am sure I got a lot of steps in. Fitness apps and tracking devices, such as ones that can track your distance, track calories burned or monitor your heart rate, can help you monitor your progress. It can benefit you mentally to see how far you have come from starting on day one.
Since I jumped in and started to move my body more, I was super motivated to nourish my body with lots of healthy foods. I went to the Farmer’s Market to stock up on lots of veggies for my salads and green smoothies for the week. I notice that starting small has a way of helping me build momentum. You will probably find yourself adding more healthy habits to your day too, like drinking more water and getting sufficient sleep. Personally, cherishing and loving my body with movement and good nutrition is a strong motivator for me to stick to it. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track. Treat the fitness and health commitments you make for yourself like you would your job, family, and friendships. You wouldn’t let important people in your life who are counting on you down, so why do it to yourself? Take care of your body for yourself first. You are worth it!
And remember…when it comes to exercise, just start somewhere, because exercise is powerful and can change your life!
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