Some mornings I'm really good about working out and others -- eh.. not so good. As a creative person, I get bored easily. I jog, walk, do Pilates, paddle board; anything to keep it interesting. Yet I don't do any of these things ENOUGH. My average is about twice a week, two to three weeks out of the month. I'm not consistent and typically feel like there is something more important that I should be doing.
As I was walking this morning, I was mulling this over in my head. "Why don't I just exercise every morning?" Then came the litany of excuses, many I'm sure you've given yourself for not working out: I need to get in the office early, get the kids to school, after school activities, sporting events, grocery shop, cook dinner, clean and do laundry and more laundry... Then I had an epiphany -- I'm not doing it because it's not a priority.
Let's be honest, if I had a health crisis and was scared for my life, I would do whatever it took, even if it meant working out two times a day. The fact is, I DON'T have a health crisis. I work out because I want to look good and fit into my size six jeans. Call me vain, but so long as I can squeeze into them, I'm content. When they start to get too uncomfortable, I get more serious about working out. That's my motivation.
Pathetic right? Yeah, I feel the same way. The truth is, I need to lose ten pounds and at 44, I need to do weight resistance training. The reality is I can hide the extra pounds pretty good and I'm not flabby so I make excuses, use my jeans as a litmus and work out when I can.
It dawned on me today that I'm exercising for the wrong reasons. I do it to look good, but the result of exercise is that I feel good; emotionally, mentally and physically. There is something so empowering about working up a good sweat, clearing my head and feeling a bit sore due to a good work out. On the days I exercise, I eat better, drink more water and think more clearly. My outlook is incredible and I feel like I can do anything, and I know you feel the same way -- that's why exercise is so important to our lives.
I found my "why" guys! Having this revelation I've decided it's time to exercise, not to look good, but to feel good. I'm no longer going to look in the mirror and say, "Oh my, I need to work out." Instead, when my energy is low, I'm craving peanut butter and chocolate and my emotions are all over the place, I'm going to say, "I need to work out."
Like it or not, exercise matters. Our bodies were not designed to sit in chairs, cars, benches and stools all day. Worse yet, once your body breaks down, due to lack of attention, there's no other to replace it. So here are four actions I want you to take right now:
1. Find your why -- Why will you make exercise a consistent priority in your life? Is it to improve your health, reduce stress, sleep better or set an example for your kids? Get real and figure out the "why" behind your decision to make fitness a priority in your life.
2. Get it done early -- Eat that fitness frog first thing in the morning. Think about your schedule right now and figure out where you can fit in 15-20 minutes of morning fitness. If you can't do it before getting the kids off to school or after dropping them off, consider lunch or just before bed. Find a small block of time you can carve for yourself and get exercise on your list.
3. Make it fun -- We've all heard the motto, "No pain, no gain!" Yet exercise doesn't have to be miserable. Decide which form of exercise you most enjoy. Here are some ideas: biking, walking, swimming, yoga, paddle boarding, belly dancing, rollerblading, jogging... does anything interest you? Circle the two that most appeal to you right now or write down what's on your mind.
4. Build it into your schedule -- Even though I'm hard on myself, I do exercise pretty consistently (and even if I don't, I have my exercise clothes on, in case the inspiration strikes!). What's changed is that in my 30s I could get away with two to three days a week. At 44, that doesn't cut it. I need to exercise four to five times a week to see the same results. If exercise were not on my daily calendar -- I wouldn't do it at all. Pull out your phone right now and put the time you're going to work out, set it up as a recurring event and an alarm to remind you. Do it right now! Feel that instant empowerment!
Feels good doesn't it? There's nothing more empowering than taking control of your life. Please, don't wait until you get a diagnosis that scares you into exercise or worse yet, get one that keeps you from exercising. My beautiful mother-in-law Pat, always looking after the family, failed to put herself on the list. Sadly, it cost Pat her life and at 56, she was gone. She will never meet my children (at least in this lifetime), teach them to paint or cook and they will never get to hear her amazing woody-woodpecker laugh. Instead they look at her paintings, hear about her incredible meals and listen as I do my best to imitate her laugh.
Don't be a memory! Choose to be decisive, selfish and add exercise and all its amazing benefits to your daily to do list. Feel good, look good, set an example for your children that fitness isn't something you do when you have the time, but something you make the time to do because it matters.