This morning I laced up my running shoes, dusted off the jogging stroller and headed out for a run. I have to admit I've been in hibernation for a few months. My workouts have been spotty at best. Back in November Ericlee and I ran in the Trail of Two Cities Half Marathon here in Fresno-Clovis. After that, I fell victim to holiday busyness, cold weather blues and life with no exercise goals. Not good.
I need exercise not just to maintain a certain weight or look but because it helps me deal with stress. Regular exercise is an important key to an overall healthy life. Unfortunately, as Americans we spend too much time busying ourselves in front of our computers or televisions. Entertainment or free time is enjoyed sitting in a chair rather than outside drinking in the sun or playing with family and friends.
There's something about the sun shining and flowers blooming that jumpstarts my urge to get out and exercise. I hope it's inspiration for you too. As I was taking my "get back into the groove" run yesterday, I started thinking about the challenge of exercising when your schedule is swirling, kids are demanding your time and you don't feel motivated.
Here are tips to spring into Spring:
1. Make a goal. As much as I hate the pressure, I love the sense of accomplishment at the end. Make yourself a chart and mark off the days when you work out. (There is power in being able to check off the box!) Choose a local running race (For ideas, see here) if you want to lose weight or need a cardio goal. Otherwise, join a local gym or sign up for a class. I have several mama friends who do yoga or dance classes once a week. The scheduled time to exercise (even just once a week!) may help.
2. Start small. Keep it simple. Maybe you just want to start with 50 situps and 25 pushups each day. That might be a big deal if you've just had a baby or you're a working daddy. When I'm not training for a race, I try to make weekly goals. I might run 2-3 days a week and then weightlift 2 days a week. Don't think you need a gym membership to get in shape. After I had Meilani, we gave up our gym membership and started workouts at home and in our neighborhood. My pastor and his wife have a nightly ritual of walking around the block. They process the day together (which is so important to their relationship) and they get a little exercise in the process.
3. Get a partner. It's always easier to do something with a friend. Grab your spouse, your kid or a friend and commit to doing something together. I'm always more motivated when I'm with Ericlee or a girlfriend. First of all, talking to someone can help distract you from the pain (wink. wink.) Also, you need the accountability of meeting up with someone for a walk at the park or to notice if you skip that "Buns of Steel" class.
4. Seize the moment. Multitask. For example, I coach high school Track & Field. When my girls are doing their warm-up, I'm instructing them and doing my daily goal of 50 squats. It's mindless. I can squeeze in the squats and still check up on the team. You might try this while you're watching your favorite TV show or while your little one is sitting in the high chair. Seize that 10 minutes and make it yours. Who says working out needs to take a long time?
5. Forgive yourself. If you skip a day or can't quite make your goal, don't give up. Whenever I miss a workout day, I feel those bad thoughts creeping in, telling me I can't continue or it's too late and I might as well give up. Ban the bad thoughts, pick yourself up and get back to it. Life happens. If you skip a day, it's not the end of the world.
I realized I had actually missed my exercising routine. The 30 minutes sped by because I was so busy drinking in the sights of the neighborhood and spending time with my daughter. We smelled trees blooming, heard the whistle of the train, waved to neighbors in Fig Garden, giggled at a squirrel chasing up a tree, sang a song. And when I pulled the stroller in the driveway, I realized it was time to get out of hibernation.
**Your turn: What are your exercise secrets? How do you juggle a busy schedule with the need to stay in shape? What kind of exercise is the best stress relief for you? I'd love to hear your advice too.