Thank you all bunches for your comments on the Woman’s Day article! (And a hearty welcome to WD readers!) I’ve enjoyed my 15 minutes in the spotlight, but now, it’s back to business.
One of the questions I get asked fairly frequently is how I found the motivation to exercise. It seems there are a whole lot of folks who can’t seem to get in the right groove for it. I was one of those people, in the not so distant past. Nowadays, if I miss a couple of days of exercise, I feel grumpy.
So, how did I get from there to here?
1. I started small. My initial goal was 20-30 minutes, 3-4 days per week. I had two exercises: walking on the treadmill and “plus-sized” yoga. Over a couple of months, I built up my stamina and endurance and then increased my goals to 30 minutes, minimum, 6 days per week, but I frequently went an hour or longer. After I had built a habit of that, I moved into strength training. Now, I average 45-60 minutes, 6 days per week, alternating cardio and strength training. Not superstar status, but I give it my best effort.
2. I shifted my focus to the health benefits instead of the weight loss. This effectively took the scale out of the picture. I have to exercise for better health, regardless of what the scale says. I’m doing this for my body, mind, and soul–not some external driver. (Although I do appreciate that nifty little side-benefit of weight maintenance.)
3. I found the fun in exercise. I make up games and challenges for myself. I write stories in my head while I’m walking. I pretend 60 Minutes has hidden cameras filming me, attempting to catch me slacking off or–gasp!–using bad form. Nothing is off limits–okay, maybe naked biking–as I attempt to keep myself entertained. I like the physical impact of exercise, but I love the mental freedom of it just as much.
4. I discovered my secret momentum builder, which I use to outwit my fiercest competitor (That’d be ME!):
This is my exercise tracker. You’ll pardon the messiness, I hope; I hadn’t planned for it to be on public display. It’s sad to say that this is one of the neater months. (Alternately, I use the top line of my daily to-do list to record my exercise. It’s effective, but I have to flip pages to see the patterns. I like seeing it all at once. Except December, which has been known to have a few gaps.) As you can see, it’s not particularly detailed. It has only the minutes exercised and the type of exercise–ST for strength training, W for walking, etc. If I don’t go full-speed for a workout, I’ll add the word “lite” to that day’s entry.
Whenever I think about blowing off exercise for the day, I think about the big empty white space that will be left on my tracker. If there’s not a legitimate reason to bypass the planned activity, my limited competitive nature gets me up and moving. I might not get in a full workout on those days, but I’ll at least get my 30 minute minimum in. The mo-mo relationship(momentum+motivation) is a truly beautiful thing.
5. Speaking of legitimate reasons to miss exercising…I don’t allow myself many. Simply put, I come first. Exercise helps me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I need it like I need air, water, and the occasional bite of chocolate. While other things do come up from time to time, I can count on both hands and a couple of toes the number of planned exercise days I’ve missed in three years. And be assured that on those days I do miss, the reasons gets listed on the exercise tracker. Not to imply any sort of shame (life happens, after all), but to identify any patterns, should they develop. With a gym nearby and a plentitude of home exercise options, there’s ample opportunity for me to fit something in every day.
6. Hmm, numbers 4 & 5 took so long that I forgot number 6. Oh well. If I think of it again, I’ll have a ready-made blog topic, won’t I?
So for what it’s worth, that’s how I found my motivation to exercise and moved it from something to be endured to being a major component of my well-being.
But enough about me. I’m tired of doing the heavy lifting around here. (Hah! A little exercise humor!) What motivates YOU to exercise?
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