Every January many of us chicks become inspired to do a little better with our health and exercise. Taking care of our bodies and our health can't be something we base on our emotions, though. Unfortunately, those emotions generally wear off by February-ish and we might give up. Exercise has to become a year-round habit. I hope maybe a couple of these suggestions will help you be successful with exercise and keep it up, even when it's April and you could not care less.
- Find a time of day that works for you. Your lifestyle, mainly meaning the people you are responsible for, is going to come in the way of your exercising if you don't pick a time when those people are on auto-pilot and can do without you. For me that's around 6:00 a.m. The only way this is possible is for me to not think about exercise, but rather I think about putting on my exercise clothes and I go outside. That much I can do. I try to go to bed at a reasonable time the night before, too. I take my dog along on my run and that motivates me because he needs a morning walk; I need to work off yesterday's dark chocolate chips. At a time of day when I can get icky and sweaty before I shower and fix my hair. I homeschool my children, so early morning is my favorite time, but if your children go to school, then (duh) early morning is the worst time. Find the time of day that works. When it becomes a part of your day, then you don't have to think about it as much and it is more likely to happen. If you truly want to stick with it, your brain has to send exercise into the same categories as showering, eating, reading your Bible and sleeping. I try to exercise every day (except Sundays) but I feel like if I make it three days a week that's really good. Do you know who that just sounded like? Dolly Parton in that movie when, asked what her shoe size was, said, "I wear a 7 but an 8 feels so good I buy a 9."
- Find an activity that is realistic and not torturous. I like to run. Someday maybe I can join a gym, but for now, I can hardly get out the door to go to the grocery store without causing an uproar in my family. Ain't no way I can actually drive to a gym, it's just not happening. I like being outside anyway. I feel like a lab rat when I'm on a treadmill. And gyms are stinky. Too much spandex for my taste too. Of course the downside is that my running outside routine depends on decent weather which I can sort of count on in Georgia. Clearly you are at a disadvantage if you live in Vermont. Some ladies I know can't get enough of Zumba but that would make me insane. What inspires someone else might not inspire you. It doesn't mean you can't exercise, it just means you need a different activity. It might take a month of a workout class to figure out that you don't really like it. Try something else. Part of getting your exercise groove on is figuring out if you are an exercise groupie or loner. Do you like classes with other ladies? Do you like brisk walks with a friend? I'm more of an exercise loner. It's just me and the pavement. In a couple of decades when my knees give out, I'll have to find something else besides running. It won't be tennis. Or Zumba.
- Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Just don't do that. Okay?
- Feel happy in your clothes. I have some moisture-friendly tops and pants that are comfortable to exercise in. They are modest but don't make me feel frump. I lay my exercise clothes out the night before, because any little thing such as not wanting to fumble around in the dark to find a pair of socks while trying to not wake up your husband, can make you say: Oh forget it already. And you go back to bed. More importantly, I stopped cheaping out on my shoes. For years I suffered through tired cheap shoes because I'm not in the Olympics. I didn't think my run was worth the money. My son finally talked me into getting myself a very nice pair of running shoes and I feel like my feet are not even there. My feet are very happy and I feel sproingy in these shoes. I was having to work against my shoes before, to overcome bad clunky shoes. I justify the shoe expense with the fact that I don't pay a gym membership. And as my Mom says, if you wait long enough everything goes on sale. I got a pair of last year's high end running shoes for 50 percent off. I really do not think my dog cares that they are last year's style.
- Chew some gum. I heard somewhere that the taste of spearmint or peppermint psyches out your brain and makes you think you're hydrated and perky when you're really not. You can trick your brain while you're exercising and then drink lots of water afterward. I'm telling you, gum really gives me some endurance, especially in the hot summer. It's weird.
- Play good music. Without music I think I would never go running again. Music makes it fun. Music makes me feel like I'm dancing. Not just random dancing, but my music is Christian worship music. So I feel like I am dancing before the Lord. I'm starting my day with some explosive worship for my savior Jesus Christ. Which gives me this surge of inspiration to tackle the rest of the day. It makes my exercise meaningful rather than just a hamster running on a wheel. Zumba truly did give one of my friends victory over dreading exercise because the music is so fun and cha-cha-cha. She started to look forward to exercise and it became a joy. She'd found her thing. Music is strange because what makes me say to my teenager in the car, "Could we please turn the volume down a little bit?" is the very thing I want to exercise to when I'm alone. I want lively music when I'm exercising. The songs I chillax to in my home would put me to sleep or really grate when I'm exercising. I start out warming up to "Hallelujiah" by Heather Williams, a step down in rock out-ness from that Switchfoot song I told you about in a different blog.
- Last but not least, pray about your exercise. If you start to get defeated in this area, ask God for some inspiration and guidance. He helped me figure out everything I've just told you. Our Lord's all over helping us live victorious lives when our hearts are devoted to Him. Then you can give Him the glory when people ask how is it that you are so fit and buff?
Oh and the deeper, more profound meaning of that tennis ball picture? Since I am not actually playing tennis? I keep a tennis ball in my nightstand drawer, so that when my back is hurting I lie down on the tennis ball. Gives some mean pressure point massage action. It's divine. Best use of a tennis ball I can think of. You'll feel like you've been to a spa. And child we deserve a pretend spa experience after all that exercise.