Last week I confessed that I’m not athletic and that I never particularly liked to exercise. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve seen the value of staying in shape, and I’m finally at a place where I can honestly say that I do have a regular exercise routine (and I might sorta kinda like it.)
If you’re like me, and exercise was never a regular part of your life, you may feel like it’s too late to start now.
I am here to tell you that it’s not.
Even if you’ve never run a mile or done a single pushup, it is never too late to start.
5 TIPS FOR GETTING INTO AN EXERCISE ROUTINE
1) Find something you like to do.
Or at least something you don’t detest.
It takes some trial and error. I tried running several times earlier in my life, and it never took. Now I love it because it gives me the ME TIME that I crave. As a busy wife and mom, it’s a treat to get out of the house ALONE, put a set of earphones in my ears and crank up my favorite tunes. I actually ran a 5K last fall. Wouldn’t my high school gym teacher be impressed!
Maybe running isn’t your thing. I have a friend who loves to dance, so she has taken up Zumba. Like me, she was never one to exercise, but as she is getting older, she’s realizing the benefits. And it helps that she found an activity that she loves.
I’ve recently discovered TRX, a resistance training system originally developed for the Navy SEALs. It’s really kind of fun and a nice change of pace from lifting weights (which I also do once a week.)
Whatever it is, find something you enjoy, because it makes it so much easier to stick with it. Which brings me to number two.
2) Make Exercise a Priority.
It is hard at first, no doubt about it. I’m as busy as the next person, and taking the time away from work and household chores to go to the gym a couple times a week is a huge sacrifice. But we all make time for the things that are important to us.
Make up your mind that this is important to you — maybe even more important than your weekly manicure appointment, or that good book you can’t seem to put down, or that extra hour of sleep you so enjoy. For me, I had to sacrifice some work time, but I knew that the work would be there when I came back. My body, however . . . that was falling apart. I had to admit it and give it the attention it deserves.
So make an exercise appointment. Write it on your calendar. Set an alarm. Rearrange your schedule. Get up a little bit earlier. Do what you have to do to make exercise a regular part of your life.
3. Create Accountability
Sign up for a class at the gym, make a date with a friend, or hire a trainer. I run on my own, but I work out at the gym with a trainer. Having a standing appointment is the ONLY thing that gets me away from my computer on many mornings. Accountability is a huge motivator. Having a friend waiting for you to go walking is another great way to make yourself accountability — and it’s fun too! I used to walk with a good friend several mornings a week. I loved having that time to catch up with her.
4) Do it long enough to feel the results and like how you feel.
Once you get a glimpse of how good it feels to be in shape, you won’t ever want to stop exercising. Whenever I slack off, I feel so gross. It motivates me to get back to it.
5) Learn to forgive yourself and keep going when you fall off the wagon.
This has been perhaps my biggest exercise revelation. I used to feel like once I missed a week of exercise due to sickness or vacation, I was done. I used it as an excuse to quit.
Then I had someone tell me that I should not look at exercise as an on or off sort of thing. I had to learn to view myself as someone who exercises, not I’m exercising right now or I’m not. That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss a few days here and there, but missing a few days is not a reason to quit. And some days, just going for a 10-minute walk is all it takes to keep you in the groove. It doesn’t always have to be a full-fledged workout to count.
Ever since that realization, I have been able to keep up my exercise routine on a fairly consistent basis. I still miss a few days or a week here or there, but I always get back out there. I don’t allow myself to feel like a failure when I miss a day or even a week.
These five tricks have resulted in me finally making peace with the exercise beast. I can honestly say I no longer dislike exercise. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself out there, and sometimes it hurts and I want to stop, but I have discovered how good it feels to be in shape, and I don’t ever want to go back.