by Greta Heddy
September 3, 2014
I do not like exercise. I don't like to sweat either. "Exercise" is a four-letter word in my vocabulary. And, yet, exercise is good for us. Even if you don't buy into the weight loss benefits of exercise (which I don't), exercise is still good for building muscle, gaining strength, and pouring those wonderful endorphins into our brains. Exercise helps us sleep better at night, be more emotionally stable, and all around helps us be a better us.
Most exercise articles give lists upon lists of ways to exercise, places to exercise, and with whom to exercise.
This is not that kind of article. I'm going to list some ways for you to get your unique self in your unique situation to exercise for your unique reasons.
1. Know Who You Really Are
Ask yourself what worked in the past. Think back to your childhood. Kids never "exercise,” they play. Whether it’s a sport or game like tag or hide and seek they have fun. Biking around the neighborhood, climbing trees and fences, building tree houses and forts, hiking in the wood, running everywhere, they have fun at it.
Ask your inner child (that little girl who still resides in your psyche) what might be fun to do! Are you a morning or night person? Do you like to exercise outside, or inside at a gym or at home? Do you swim and are near a pool with hours that fit your schedule? Would you prefer to sneak exercise into your routine, like having an exercise ball instead of a chair at your desk, or walking up stairs instead of the elevator, or would you like the camaraderie of a martial arts class after your day in the office? Do you like to exercise with your children or prefer exercise to be alone time? Do you like a personal trainer that bosses you like a drill sergeant or would you prefer a kinder, gentler instructor? Only you know for sure. Choose exercise(s) that fit into your current situation three to five times a week.
I’m a hermit exerciser. I loathe working out with others with the exception of dance classes which don't feel like exercise to me - they feel like fun! I get easily bored with routine activities. I have a flexible work schedule, which makes planning exercise time a challenge.
My favorite exercises are reading, knitting and watching movies, but recently, I decided I needed to really exercise. Though I've successfully gone to a gym in the past, this time I chose some aerobic/strength-building exercise videos by Teresa Tapp, plus a yoga video for "inflexible people." I have the benefit of an instructor but on my own time schedule and in my own living room. After I memorize the routines, I plan to mute the videos and listen to audio books, music, or movies while I work out so I don't get bored.
2. Find Juicy Reasons for Exercising
This is where your inner child really comes in. (I named mine Jane.) You, of course, have grown-up reasons to exercise, but we all know that it's the child-like reasons that keep us moving forward on our goals.
My personal grown-up reason for exercising this year: I recently developed tendonitis in my left shoulder which I already have in my elbows. The way to deal with tendonitis is to strengthen the muscles around the joints where it hurts. I want to be stronger and more flexible so my body doesn't hurt.
Jane could care less about that. Here are some of her juicy reasons for exercising:
- Be strong/flexible enough to belly dance.
- Keep up with kids and grandkids. Play with them without getting tired.
- Walk up and down stairs without knees hurting.
- Beat my spouse in a race.
- Look good in my belly dance costumes or Renaissance Fair garb.
- Get compliments from family, friends, and/or strangers.
- Jump up and down and have my pants fall off because they're loose (Jane's favorite reason).
- Have my chest stick out farther than my stomach.
- Weigh less than my spouse. (Hmmm. Jane is just a little competitive, isn't she?)
- Have defined muscles in my arms and legs.
Brainstorm with your inner child. She may surprise you with why you really want to exercise. No reason is too childish - after all, no one needs to know the "real" reason you're doing this. These are secret reasons. Just remember: only exercise for your reasons. Never exercise for someone else's.
3. Track Your Progress
Take "before" and "after" pictures in revealing clothes and against a contrasting background. DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP WITH THESE PHOTOS! I have a sports bra top and shorty gym shorts that I take my pictures in. Not at all attractive, but I can see what I'm dealing with and how far I've come.
Take measurements before and after. I measure my bust, ribs, waist, abdomen, hips, thighs, calves and upper arms. Then I take measurements every month. Sometimes with photos, you can't see the small changes, but with a measuring tape, even an eighth of an inch is noticeable.
Use Pam's ideas for tracking your inner child. The Progress Report is a weekly record of your progress towards your goal and where your inner child can complain or offer suggestions. You give her a grade for each day and she can earn valuable prizes. I've also had a lot of success with Pam's 'bead box' idea. You get a vitamin/pill box with daily compartments. For each day you exercise, put in a bead (or bean or whatever). At the end of the week, your inner child can redeem the beads for things she wants (see Way #4). The bigger the reward, the more beads she has to earn. Jane likes to keep the beads and make bracelets. It's a beautiful, tangible reminder of how well I keep my promises to myself.
If you don't want to track your body's progress, you can track your activities - time yourself and record how fast you are or how much weight you've lifted or bench-pressed. If you walk/run/bike/swim, you can track how many "miles" you've gone. I've seen people mark miles on maps to see how far they've "walked," like across continents or oceans!
4. Reward Yourself.
Make a list of all the things your inner child loves to do - no matter how crazy or silly they seem. Use these fun things as rewards for exercising. Have daily and weekly rewards, plus bigger rewards. Jane likes bubble baths, movie tickets, beads to make jewelry, books, yarn for knitting and seeing plays on Broadway. Rewards don't have to cost money - most days, her reward is being able to watch an episode of her favorite TV show, or play a computer game.
Pay yourself. This is similar to the bead box, but with money. Every time you exercise, you can put a quarter or a dollar in an exercise jar and when it’s full, you can buy yourself something you want.
Watch TV or listen to audiobooks or music while exercising. Find other "rewards" that you can incorporate into the actual exercise itself. I heard of a runner who actually knits while he runs.
5. Set Specific Mini Goals
Set up a 30, 60, or 90 day challenge. There are formal challenges such as the one I did (informally) with Body for Life (http://bodyforlife.com). Teresa Tapp has 60 Day Challenges on her website every so often (http://www.t-tapp.com), and there are many websites where you can link in and set goals for specific amounts of time. I set goals in three-month chunks, based on my birthday, which is near the summer solstice. It gives me enough time to see some success but is short enough to keep me interested. I call these my personal solstices and equinoxes and I use those days to review and reevaluate my progress and set goals for the next three months.
Make tiny, doable goals. I never make goals to lose a specific number of pounds or inches. My goals consist of what I’ll do or for how long I’ll do it. One year, my goal was to go to the gym. If I went into the gym, that was icing on the cake. If I used some equipment or walked on the track, that was a bonus. I did whatever I felt like doing. Sometimes I slept on a bench for the hour. Sometimes I drove out of the parking lot and got French fries at a nearby fast food place. That year, I lost 6 pounds and 14 inches over all.
Please feel free to use any of these ideas to get yourself to exercise or come up with your own. As Pam always says, "Make it fun and it will get done." These are ways that make exercise fun for me. Go find out what makes it fun for you!
Greta Heddy is authentic and that’s what attracted me to her. I asked her to contribute her thoughts for my website and this is her first offering. I hope she inspires you to get fit. Oh, and be sure to read tomorrow’s blog from her with 5 more ways to get yourself to exercise.
In Greta Heddy’s words: "I’m a wife, mom, new grandmother, and knitter learning to have peace in my ADHDelightful life."
Thank you for reading Greta’s blog. You’ll hear more from her as she is filled with valuable wisdom.