As a self-proclaimed exercise addict, it has been about 15 years since I have had to make any kind of New Year’s resolution to work out more.
Not only do I exercise religiously, but I also have made it my job to exercise. Last year, I received my Group Fitness Certification and now teach cycle/Spinning, Pilates and Piloxing.
While becoming a group fitness instructor is not for everyone, I have learned some important things about how exercise can make you feel empowered, inspired and even sexy. For a mommy who spends most of her time in either sweaty gym clothes or T-shirts and jeans that likely have today’s lunch spilled on the front, finding my mojo can be downright liberating. But here are some tips that I’ve found work well:
1) Look at the time and money spent on exercising as an investment in not only your health, but also your happiness. For many people, finding extra funds and time to get to the gym is a major obstacle. My husband used to complain that the last thing he wanted to do when he got home from work was head to the gym because he was too tired. Once he committed to working out either during the day on his lunch hour or when he got home, however, he found he had more energy and less stress. He also found a gym near his office that offers an employee discount as long as he goes eight times a month and found a low-cost gym near our house for the evenings and weekends. For us moms, it allows us some time away to blow off steam. In the end, the less stressed you are, the happier everyone is.
2) Shift your perspective on dieting. Don’t look at eating healthy as a “diet,” but rather as a “lifestyle change.” To me, a diet indicates there is an end date to your healthy eating. A lifestyle change means creating a new normal. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you can break it down into those terms, once you get through the first three weeks, your new lifestyle should become second nature.
3) Set a goal. The other key to my husband’s success was finding a goal to accomplish, so he signed up for a 100-mile bike ride. It forced him to stick to a training schedule and gave his workouts a purpose toward an end goal. Thankfully, his $1,500 investment in a new bike, cycling clothes, shoes and gear wasn’t in vain. In the last six months, he has lost 50 pounds.
4) Mix it up. Be sure to change things up; don’t go to the gym every day and do the same thing. Beyond that, make sure you are working hard enough. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your time. On the other side of the coin, don’t go in there and kill it every day. If you go and run as hard and fast as you can until you can’t breath anymore, you will likely never improve and risk injury, which will have you sitting right back on the couch where you started. Talk to a trainer or fitness professional about heart rate training to understand more.
5) Have fun! I think the reason I love working out so much is it isn’t a job or a chore for me. So much of exercise is psychological. Therefore, I feel like I am strengthening my mind and my body when I work out. I have had the opportunity to meet new people, listen to great music and perform while I am teaching.
Formats like Piloxing (a combination of kickboxing, Pilates and dance), Zumba, pole dancing, belly dancing and hip hop prove there is no reason getting in shape has to be painful and boring. Heck, Zumba even has an Xbox game!
I also thoroughly enjoy running races, which coincides with tip No. 3 in setting a goal. What’s more important, races these days are so much more than simply running three miles. Adventure races, like Tough Mudder and Muddy Buddy, are becoming more popular along with races with themes, costumes, ways to contribute to good causes and post-race parties. If running a race isn’t typically your thing, perhaps the hanging-out-with-friends-drinking-beer part can be your incentive.
Whatever you need to motivate you to get up off the couch, find it. Most likely, once you find passion in what you are doing to stay in shape, it will remove the pain and leave you with much more than simply a calorie burn. kc
Write This Down with Michelle Stien
• Michelle Stien is a stay-at-home mom of two children, ages 3 and 5. Her mother always told her to “write this down,” so she is sharing her experiences with Kane County moms to help them deal with the craziness of being “Mom.”