So the “e” word. Yes exercise……please don’t hate me for bringing it up – but it is for the best. I don’t know about you, but this time of year gets me itching to get outside. A little Spring Fever! But with life’s busyness and the daily grind of work, trying to keep meals on the table, and other commitments – fitting in a workout session can seem like a distant fairytale. Yet, we ask our bodies to perform for us – we ask it to commit to long work ours, little sleep, and loads of stress. Sometimes I just need to take the bull by the horns and commit to fitting in a little time for physical fitness. So I encourage you to make a stand with me – commit to fitting an exercise routine into your life. Eventually it will become a habit and you won’t know how you lived without it. So below, I have listed fifteen tips that have helped me to help incorporate and keep a fitness routine in my day to day life.
- Be realistic – don’t set goals that a marathon runner would have trouble accomplishing. Unfortunately, when people are looking to begin a new workout routine, they ask too much of themselves. An elaborate schedule is created and planned and then bam! Life hits and the schedule is thrown off-track and naturally, depression and the feeling of failure ensues. Make a plan that will realistically fit into your life. If three days a week is all you can do, so be it. If you can incorporate 2 major workouts a week and 3 light workouts, go for it. Just make it a plan that you can accomplish at this time. Which brings me to number 2…..
- Be prepared to revamp your routine – so you have found a system that works and stay on track for a while but….. the kids’ soccer season is over and you no longer have the time to go for your walk – its okay! Just make sure you make the time in another part of your day to get your workout in. Don’t let a schedule change stop you from continuing your fitness routine.
- Don’t make excuses – this is a hard one. It is so easy to fall into the trap of “I didn’t have time to workout today.” Create safeguards for yourself to ensure that you stay on track. If you know that you need to workout in the morning before the day gets rolling – be sure to do it. If you are an evening workout person, don’t be distracted by television. And never tell yourself that grocery shopping counts as exercise! Yes, I realize that we do quite a bit of walking/moving when we do certain daily chores, but exercise needs to be beyond what we normally do. So if you don’t have to put on your running shoes……it probably doesn’t count (except yoga of course!).
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – now life will happen and schedules can not always be met in a real world with real problems and that is okay. Just be sure to remember that even though you may have missed a day or two (or seventeen), be sure to get back on track right away. Tomorrow is a fresh new day – begin again. Never allow the feeling of failure to keep you from moving forward.
- Find a workout buddy – Now some people don’t care to work out with friends, but for others it is a huge encouragement. Having the accountability of a person with similar fitness goals can be extremely helpful. Not to mention the wonderful fellowship you can enjoy! I love to go walking with my friend Emily and her sweet pup Mr. B – we can chat and benefit from a brisk hike at the same time. So seek out a buddy if you wish – they may just be that extra “boost” you need on a rainy day.
- Make this time sacred – as best as you can, attempt to set apart this time solely for you and the purpose of bettering your health and physical fitness. It is so easy to take a phone call, oversleep, do several extra loads of laundry and drastically cut down the amount of time that you have available to exercise. Don’t cut yourself short. God has only given you one body and we ask a lot of it each and every day, do it a favor and give it the time it needs to be properly cared for in this way.
- Keep a workout calendar – this tool is a big encouragement for me personally. I keep a calendar in the kitchen and every time I do my workout I mark it there. I mention what I did, how long I spent, and with whom (if I was with a friend or my husband). Runners may want to note how many miles that they ran and how quickly they were able to do it. The great thing about this is that you can visually see your progress and commitment (as well as your lack of it when you have quite a few empty days!). So use this a motivational tool to keep pressing on.
- Don’t break the bank – never feel as though you have to spend a lot (or anything at all) in order to be in good shape. There are many inexpensive and even free activities and resources that you can use. Check out CraigsList and Ebay for inexpensive or used workout DVDs. Research where your local State Park is and go hiking (one of my husband’s and my favorite things). And check out yard sales – they are a wonderful resource for dumbbells and workout equipment.
- Wear good shoes – now that I recommended to keep the cost down, I will have to say that proper footwear is important not only to regular daily life, but especially important for the active individual. Correct support in a workout shoe is essential to make your workouts more effective and to prevent injuries. When choosing shoes keep in mind what you will do with them. Are you a runner, an avid walker, a hiker? Use the right shoe for the job and your feet (and body) will thank you for it! (Or do yoga and go barefoot!)
- Don’t let boredom get you down - Yes it happens……exercise boredom. Today you feel as though your workout it the best ever and there is no way you could ever get tired of it – wrong. Three months have passed and all of a sudden you can’t stand the voice of the instructor on the workout DVD. Sometimes we need to mix it up a little. Try something new, workout with your husband, take up a new sport – but make sure you do something to keep your routine going.
- Don’t overdo it - there days in our lives when we do something strenuous and it affects us physically – cleaning out the garage for instance. If you spend all day lifting heavy boxes and hauling trash down to the curb, maybe you need to push off your workout for the day. This also goes for injuries. Don’t push your body so hard that you hurt yourself. If you have shooting pain in your ankle, don’t go for a run! Be cautious that you don’t create a lifelong problem for yourself.
- Get enough sleep – when you are asking more of your body, you need to give it the rest it needs to recover and keep going. Very few people get sufficient sleep and are miserable for it. Make getting to bed on time a priority and your body will thank you for it.
- Drink water, lots of it – dehydration is not the way to go. Even without exercise, they say our bodies need eight glasses of water a day just to replenish its natural functions – so how much more do we need when we have a good sweaty workout? Be sure to stay hydrated with pure, filtered water – it is important for everyone and that much more so for an active individual (stay away from soda and sports drinks).
- Challenge yourself - believe it or not, sooner or later you are going to get stronger, you will run faster, walk farther and find that you are not getting the same “workout” any more. If you don’t get quite as sweaty, or are not challenged, congratulations …… you may need to kick it up a notch! Our bodies get used to the things we do and at times we may need to increase the weight we are lifting, run a bit faster or farther, or try out the advanced version of our exercise DVD. This will keep your body guessing and it will help your fitness to continually improve.
- Make it fun – if your routine is a drudgery, spice it up! You need to have fun a little (or a lot) when you work out or else you won’t want to do it anymore.
So I hope this is an encouragement to you. It isn’t easy to make new priorities – but it is possible! Take heart and be uplifted, and remember what Anne of Green Gables used to say, “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.”