According to Cher, “If fitness came in a bottle, everyone would have a great body.”
Ain’t that the truth?!?
I don’t know about you, but for me exercise is one of those things I dread doing even though I know it’s good for me. It takes discipline, commitment and hard work.
Trying to fit some kind of exercise into my hectic schedule is no simple task either. Between working 5 days a week, running a household and other obligations, it’s difficult to find the time.
Sure, I could get up at the crack of down and walk around the block or hit the treadmill for 30 minutes, but then I’d have to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m.! I’m already sleep-deprived as it is, so that’s not an option.
As for evenings… after spending 8 hours at the office and a long commute home, I just want to chill in front of the TV with a glass of wine.
Believe me, I’ve come up with every excuse in the book NOT to exercise – “too busy,” “too tired,” and, of course, “there’s always tomorrow.” I know… lame, lame, lame!
But, then I had an epiphany. Actually, I took a good look in the mirror and noticed I had a few too many rolls around the middle ― let’s just say I’m starting to resemble the Michelin Man. Ugh! My final wake-up call came when I had trouble squeezing into my fail-safe “big girl” jeans.
I decided then and there it was time to end my slothful ways and make exercise a part of my daily life.
My plan is to walk for 30-35 minutes over my lunch hour or after dinner at least 5 days a week and eventually work up to 45-60 minutes every day except Sunday (that’s my day off). I’m also going to incorporate strength training into my exercise routine, 2-3 days a week.
Maybe I’ll even start biking or take up yoga. Exercise has to be fun for me, or I’m not going to do it.
When I feel the urge to throw in the towel, I’ll just remind myself it’ll be worth all the effort once I’m able to fit into my skinny jeans and wear sleeveless tops without looking like a bat in flight. An even better incentive… active people are healthier and live longer than the typical couch spud!
Staying motivated is going to be my biggest challenge, so I did some research and compiled a list of ideas to help me lead a more active life.
If you’re having trouble finding the time or the desire to exercise, maybe these tips will inspire you too.
- Make exercise a priority. Think of it as something you do on a regular basis, like brushing your teeth, so it becomes a habit instead of just a once-and-awhile, “when I feel like it” kind of thing.
- Ease into it. If you’ve been inactive for a while, start with 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise. Try walking around the block or on a treadmill. If you’re short on time, break it up into two 15 minute sessions. Work up to 40-60 minutes of exercise at least 5-6 times a week. Even though you may feel a little tired at first, chances are once those endorphins kick in you’ll want to keep going!
- Count your steps to keep you on track. Get a Fit Bit activity tracker or a regular pedometer to record how many steps you’re taking each day. They add up quickly. Park farther from the door at work or the mall. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Every bit counts, and gets your heart pumping.
- Mix it up and find different ways to be active – take Pilates, yoga or spinning classes, swim, jump rope, dance, bike, hike, play sports outside or games on your Wii, or workout with exercise DVDs… anything to get off the couch and get moving. To relieve boredom and keep the momentum going, try exercising to upbeat tunes. I finally got an MP3 player and headphones so I can play my favorite rock music while I walk. If you make exercising fun, you’ll be more inclined to stick with it.
- Get an exercise buddy. Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to join you on your morning or evening walk, play tennis or racquet ball, take a fitness class or hit the gym together. You can support and encourage each other as you work out, plus it makes you more accountable if you’re doing it with someone else. In other words, if one of you tries to skip your workout the other will guilt you into doing it!
- Come up with an incentive to stay on track. Sign up for a charity walk or run, strive to get into shape for a special event like a wedding or class reunion, or a tropical vacation. (I have a friend who wants to slim down for a cruise next winter so she has pictures of bikini-clad models on her refrigerator for inspiration.) Or, maybe you just want to improve your overall health. Whatever the reason, having a specific goal in mind will help you stay focused.
- Be realistic. Let’s face it, you’re not going to lose that muffin top or those thunder thighs overnight. It’s going to take dedication, discipline, sweat and time (and patience!) to reach your fitness goals. The main thing is not to give up!
No more excuses now! Keep the Nike slogan ingrained in your brain… just do it!
– Catherine B. enjoys her work, but is looking forward to retiring so she can write whatever (and whenever) she wants at home in her pajamas.