Never, not once in my life, have I ever claimed to enjoy exercise. It always, always, always requires an act of will to get myself out the door and to the gym. Left to my own devices I will choose the book, the craft, the conversation, the internet ... and just about anything else as a more enjoyable way to spend my time.
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Until I'm on my way home from the gym, that is. Then, I can't imagine why I almost didn't go. I feel great ... high on endorphins ... and filled to the brim will the virtue only a good sweat can produce! And truth be told, it really isn't even a matter of choice anymore. I'm of an age, where if left neglected, my poor old body will actually fall apart. You can get away with so much abuse in your twenties and thirties. And then you turn forty ...
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Just before my fortieth birthday, I decided to take up running for the first time in my life. I took one of those "Learn to Run" clinics at the Running Room (as ridiculous as it sounds - learning to run at 39 years of age). As one would expect, I learned how to run and eventually ran my first, and only 5K. Because somewhere along the line, I realized that I wasn't actually a huge fan of running. Don't get me wrong - you can't beat running for a quick, cheap exercise solution. But I just hate every. single. minute of it. So, I don't run too often anymore ...
I belonged to a gym in my early twenties that was near my office. I'd go after work most days. It was pretty much a healthier version of a night club. And I really only went because the cool people in my office went there too. So, as I'm sure you can imagine, with that paradigm in my head, I was less than keen to join a gym as a 40-something year old housewife. Surely, I would look ridiculous. I would be the object of scorn and ridicule. I wouldn't know how any of the machines worked anymore. And then I had a conversation with a young guy who is a complete gym-junkie. He's the type that hangs out over in the free weights with the other body-builder types ... the area of the gym where regular people don't go. I mentioned something to him about not going to a gym for the above-mentioned reasons. In response, he looked at me with a puzzlement. And then I realized ... no one actually cares what anyone else is doing. Especially the body-builder types. So I joined a gym.
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I've got it down to a science now ... 40 minutes on the elliptical at level 7 and then 2 sets through the circuit training machines. I plug in to my audiobook and mindlessly go through this routine a few times a week. I know that you are supposed to shake things up and constantly vary your exercise routine. This fact is usually pointed out to me by people sitting on a couch. Um, no thanks. I like the routine for now.
Where I do get pushed is at my yoga class. I started taking a regular yoga class about a year and a half ago. You can read all about it HERE. And when I started taking yoga, it was really hard. Anyone who thinks yoga is just stretching, doesn't know what they are talking about. It's a lot less difficult now, but no less challenging. And it's the one form of exercise that I actually look forward to. It's great if you can find something like that.
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I am no expert on fitness. I claim no special knowledge of anything. But I have been able to maintain a reasonably decent fitness routine for a few years now. I feel pretty good and my doctor is happy. I'm not the size I was in my twenties, but I'd argue that I'm in better shape. So here's what I recommend to those of you who want to get your fitness sorted out:
1. Try to find something you like. And failing that, find something you can at least force yourself to do.
2. Make it difficult to get out of ... agree to meet friends there or book time with a trainer. I'm cheap enough that if I pay for something, I'm very likely to show up. I know that's not true for everyone (thus all of the unused gym memberships in the world), but find the trigger that will get you to commit.
3. Write in on your calendar (or input it into your calendar). If it's important enough to put it on the schedule, you are more likely to do it.
4. Get the stuff you need to do it right. Yoga requires a certain type of apparel. Weight lifting often requires gloves. Cardio requires a decent pair of shoes.
5. Tell a lot of people what you are doing. It builds accountability. If you've told everyone you know that you are training for a 5K, it would be awfully embarrassing to admit that you bailed.
The secret is just to get there. Once you've gotten out the door, you have climbed the biggest hurdle. And I've never once regretted exercising. But I've regretted not exercising many times.
Do you have any exercise strategies that help you stick to a routine?