You’ve heard me say that I need to start deliberately exercising again. Truth is, I love it. I love listening to music and watching the terrain pass under my feet as I roam the forests or trails or even the city paths that I take my running shoes onto. But like many things I love to do, they are not made a priority in my life. It just seems there are so many other urgent, more important things to do. Though I have managed to cobble together a little more exercise lately, I am looking to take myself a little more seriously in this regard. Excuses be gone!
Can I give you a list of excuses I have for not setting time aside for exercise? Perhaps this will give you ideas to add to your own list of excuses. Because today I plan to burn them all!
Actually, I would rather you give me some of the tricks you use to get yourself to move more. I’ll give you some of my own later. But first, excuses:
1. It is selfish to take time like this. Others need me and I have more important things to do with my time.
2. I am worried I am going to injure myself because I am overweight. I need to lose weight before I can exercise.
3. I just ate too large a meal and will get cramps if I exercise…OR I’m too hungry and my blood sugar is too low to exercise.
4. If I start to get back into shape I will become obsessive and compulsive about it and I want to stay present for my family. OR…I do not have enough discipline to reach my goals.
5. If I wake up early to go and exercise I will wake up my children which means either I will have to exercise with the ‘help’ of my kids or leave Rob to deal with 2 underslept children because I woke them up. (aka My children might need me).
6. I don’t live near any facilities like I used to (ski trails, rowing lakes, yoga studios, swimming pools, skating rinks).
7. If I push myself too hard I’m going to have a heart attack and die and I want to be there when my daughter gets married….(the irony of this statement is not lost of me, I promise!)
8. I will never be as strong or as fast or go as far as I used to. I cannot do what that other person is doing, so why bother?
9. I’m too old, I have kids now, I live in the country now, I’m not the same person anymore.
10. The snow is too deep, the winds too strong, the bugs too many, hunting season too scary (this one is a very real, smart fear for my forest runs), my dogs will run away, my neighbours will laugh at me, my kids can’t come with me, my husband needs me in the fields, I didn’t get enough sleep…
Am I lazy? Do I lack drive? I doubt that very much. But the excuses are very real to me in every moment. And at times, can paralyze what might otherwise be a spry existence.
It is time to remember all of the times that I was active.
I have swam, rowed, ran, hiked, walked, danced, biked, and weight-lifted myself back into shape from very sedentary existences in the past. Why can I not do it again - especially when I'm starting with the bonus of having done physical work throughout the summer in fits and spurts?
I know I have an inspired girl in there somewhere. I need to make it a regular habit again. I need it to be as important as it was in the past. I need to…um…just do it.
It might be easy to say that I’m just not that type of person anymore. But I doubt that very much. What I have seen is what regular movement gives back to me. Once you experience those benefits, you’re hooked. Its just a matter of getting past the humiliation stage of being out of shape, or not as strong as you once were, or getting over the fact that the opportunities are not as convenient. Though, I have to admit, I've decided that my forties could unfold a creature that is in the best shape of her life, if I let them.
The benefits I remember in no particular order are: confidence, better sleeping habits, strength, health (breathing patterns, heart rates, cholesterol etc.), clearer thinking, better endurance, more social connections, more energy, a desire to eat better, a need to sit less, and a willingness to take advantage of creative ways to make exercise happen no matter what the obstacles. That’s a fine list of positive things, isn’t it?
What kind of circumstances helped make these things happen? Without question, beginning was always the most difficult. Every beginning was as tough as the last no matter what my past successes looked like. Continuing with my habit was easier with the momentum. It helped to involve others. Either tell them what I was trying to do or make them come with me to do it. Lately I’ve decided that my dogs need exercise – perhaps I could do it for them if not for me. Making an inspiring play list on my music player has also been key. Any opportunity to listen to music is one I will strive to make happen. Audio books also a plus. Having my treadmill out without a clothes line worth of clothes hanging on it is key. Knowing where my running shoes are, keeping a neat pile of the pants, shirt and socks I need to change into whenever the mood strikes. In short, making it accessible, enjoyable and about far more than, well, just exercise.
So, my new goal? To move at a reasonably intense level at least 45 minutes, 3-4 times a week (every other day). I have dusted off my treadmill at home which will help in those less-inspired days where I don’t feel like hauling my lazy butt in public. What will keep me going? The fact that I have told you about it, and likely now have to report back, don’t I? I have also just sent an email to some friends I want to go hiking with in the late spring. That mountain will not be eluding me, I won’t let that happen.
Where will I find the time? Well, being a person who just finished her ‘work year’, its easy right? I have all the time in the world? Guess again – I’ve got renovations, periodically sick kids, social distractions, farm repairs, the need to contribute to my community more…this list is endless. Please don’t fancy me a girl with nothing better to do. I am you – with a little more wiggle room at the moment – but only just for now. I plan to take the hour before the school bus arrives, shortly after lunch and before the snack urges hit.
How tired I am of all of the excuses. Now that I have written them, I believe I can no longer use them. I have exposed them to the light and lies don’t care much for that kind of exposure. They were all lies really, weren’t they? And I’m more of a truth junkie at heart.
Please tell me what inspires you to keep moving, how you quell the negative thoughts that prevent you from exercising and what your routine looks like if you wish.