Exercise … is there a 4-year old voice inside your head on the verge of throwing a fit … well, that’s because you’ve spent most of your life since you were four thinking exercise is work, no fun, uncomfortable, or just plain miserable. It doesn’t have to be any of those things. When you were a kid, you begged to be able to go to the swimming pool. Running bases for kickball in the street, or shooting some hoops was a blast and what you hated was being forced to stop so you could do homework or something else. Yes, it’s time to make movement fun again, and we’re here to show you how to fall in love with it all over again, just like you were when you were a kid. First, start thinking movement and not “exercise.”
Make it fun.
Yep, that’s what we said, fun! Think about what you did when you were younger that you loved doing that included movement. It might have been dance classes, swimming, or tennis. It could also be going for long walks with friends where you could talk about everything under the sun, especially someone you particularly liked, or what you hoped was going to be for dinner that night. When you were doing those things, you never thought of it as “exercise.” You just thought of it as fun. So start your plan by including at least one fun form of movement. If you loved roller or ice skating, or biking – find a place to do that. If you can do it in a fun atmosphere, and not a gym, even better. Just make sure it is fun and you remind yourself, even if you get sore muscles for a while, this is what you have always loved doing.
Eat enough to fuel the workouts.
The old way of thinking has been proven wrong. If one of your goals is to lose weight as well as get healthy and fit, make sure you are not cutting your calorie intake too low. Women need a bare minimum of 1200 calories a day and men 1500. But it isn’t just about the numbers. Start eating more fresh and whole foods. Cut back on the junk and processed foods and ingredients. But you don’t have to do that all at once. If you have three or four foods you know are harming you, even though you love the taste, set up a plan to cut back on one at a time. Shift from five servings a week to two, or only allow yourself to eat fast foods on Fridays. Don’t try to change everything all at once. That is stressful and won’t be fun. When it’s not fun, and instead is really hard, you are going to eventually stop doing it. So incorporate changes slowly and allow for occasional times when you can enjoy the foods that love and enjoy when celebrating or have a bit of comfort attached to them inside your head.
Lock away the scales.
Whether you are trying to gain weight or lose weight, this change is really about increasing your health for the long-term. And if you have the scales right there next to where you brush your teeth every morning, it’s going to be tempting to step on them and check your progress. Ideally, you should weigh yourself every 4-8 weeks. Yes, that’s what we said. 4-8 WEEKS. If you are used to jumping on that scale a couple of times a day, this might be a difficult transition. So one of the easiest ways to approach this is to lock the scales away somewhere. Mark your calendar for the days you are going to weigh yourself and stick to the schedule. On the days you weigh, plan for a celebration moment, no matter what number shows on the scale.
Our bodies are in constant flux, and depending on how much or little weight you want to gain or lose, sometimes it just takes a bit longer to see a difference. Since that is true, on your weigh-in days, also take measurements, and at least three full-body photos. One from the front – one from the back – and one from the side. Your weight may stay the same, but your inches may change, and you might see a difference in the pictures from one time to the next. Now you’ve done those things, celebrate. Wear your favorite outfit, get your nails done, call a friend and enjoy a long conversation.
Set stepping-stone goals and rewards for when you reach them.
When you start this life adventure, set some long-term goals and then split them up into mini goals. If you want to run a 5K in three months, then you need to decide how far you want to be able to run after one month, and two months. Then you’ll want to break that down further. How long and far do you want to run by the end of the first week – and so on. Now figure out rewards for reaching the goals. Get a new workout t-shirt, or crazy fun socks you can wear when you are out running. If you have long hair, find some fun ways to contain your hair while you are on your runs. Make the rewards related to the goal in some way and they will reinforce your dedication, desire, and the fun you are having.
Do it with friends or your partner.
Make your activity social. Find a workout buddy, or a few other ladies in the neighborhood that want to go walking together every day. Schedule time on tennis courts with an instructor or friend. Sign up for a couples exercise class with your partner. Look for activities that will help you become healthier, and if those activities aren’t going to seem so fun, then add some fun people to the mix instead. Plan to have everyone bring their favorite portable fruit. At the end, find somewhere you can all enjoy scenery and maybe some fresh air. Then extend the social side of the activity for an extra 15-30 minutes catching up with each other.
It can be really easy when you first start a healthier lifestyle plan to go a bit crazy about it. You feel gung-ho and so you sign up for four different types of classes, totally change your diet, and spend hours a day at least five days a week exercising. That may seem like you are being dedicated. Usually, though it means within a few weeks you start thinking just how much time and energy this is all taking and now you have no time to live your life. All your time and energy is going to work, health, and sleep. That’s not what you want to do. Ease into things, start slow and allow yourself time to adjust to one or two changes at a time. NEVER spend more than 60 minutes a day doing your exercises. The benefits drastically decrease after about 45-60 minutes and the risks of injury or overuse of muscles are amplified. Plan for 4-5 days of dedicated exercise – fun movement – each week, and on the other days either rest and recover or move without it being anything other than a way to enjoy life. Go for a stroll and stop to enjoy the sounds of nature often. That’s what you should be planning for in the beginning and long-term as well.
Stop thinking of it as exercising and start thinking of it as movement. Movement that’s extending your active years. Movement that’s keeping your health care expenditures down for later years. Movement that’s expressing life, passion, joy, time with people you love, and doing all the things you love to do alone or with others. If you are looking for a few more ideas on how to fall in love with “movement,” check out 7-tips-to-fall-in-love-with-exercise.