Exercise and me
Exercising is a priority for me – but one that I struggle with. It has so many benefits including:
- Strength, flexibility and fitness
- Weight, blood pressure and cholesterol control
- Improved resilience, stress and mood management
Even so I often have a hard time convincing myself to turn up. It’s just easier to stay sitting down in front of my computer and eating unhealthy things than it is to get up and do something positive for myself and my health. It’s easy to say exercise classes are too expensive and I don;t have the time.
So I’m in this all too common trap of knowing intellectually what is good – yet finding it difficult to actually do. And find myself in the trap of making choices that in the short term might feel good – but in the long term aren’t in my best interests.
Over the years I have found many ways to outsmart myself into exercising. Here’s some of the things I’ve done in the last decade or so to get myself moving:
The exercise bike
I bought an exercise bike with bells and whistles and planted it squarely in my bedroom where I would see it day and night. For probably two years I “rode” many kilometres to the music of my choice. The bells and whistles were great motivators. I set and met many personal bests.
I always liked seeing how many “calories” I had burnt off and how high my heart rate got.
The sign that the era of the exercise bike was over was when I realised I was dusting it more than I was riding it (and for those who know me well – dusting happens but rarely). It was time for the bike to go and for me to move on.
For a while I joined the women’s only gym – Curves. It boasted results in a short time at a relatively small cost. It was close to home and lots of people I knew went there too.
I had some fun and lost some weight. But the boredom set in quickly. Some of the machines I liked – and some I didn’t. But it soon became apparent I spent most of the session counting down until it was over – and it was only half an hour!!
In the end I wanted to enjoy the time I spent exercising – especially when it was costing me money.
Around that time I saw an ad for a local women’s only bootcamp. I was nervous for sure. I turned up expecting pain – and I did get pain, but importantly I also got fun and huge sense of achievement.
I have never much liked running, I confess, but ended up being able to to run twice around our local park, do a decent plank and discovered I love boxing.
I loved that I also got variety – each session was different. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never knew what you were going to get. I enjoyed bootcamp so much I was out of the house twice a week while it was still dark – and for those who know me well, I’m more a night owl type of person so up early is a huge achievement in outsmarting myself.
Bootcamp eventually segued into personal training with myself and a friend and our daughters. Personal training with the lovely Dina again saw me up before light – boxing and lifting weights.
And I discovered I love weights just about as much as I love boxing. The endorphins from resistance exercise feels pretty great – a boost for the whole day and beyond. And Dina got more out of me with her gentle manner than guilt, fear or pressure.
This time we trained at my house – I figured having a friend and a trainer turning up to my house was a pretty big incentive to be up and ready in time. I really recommend this as a strategy for people struggling with motivation.
Sadly training with Dina had to end as we were moving to Melbourne – but I had a lot of fun…thanks my friend.
Once in Melbourne getting myself into an exercise routine has taken some time. A friend recommend a local women’s only Pilates class and I have now been doing this mostly regularly for most of the year a couple of times a week.
I’d never done Pilates before and it took some time to grow on me – learning to slow down and strengthen more mindfully was a change from the weights and boxing I was used to.
Nevertheless I can now certainly see improvements in my core strength and more than anything I feel a sense of peace and relaxation afterwards. This is definitely good for my sense of wellbeing – and keeps me going back.
Training Mark II
It has been a challenge to find a personal trainer that matches my style, budget and available times. I did try one trainer initially – but personal style match was not a good fit. I realised how important it is to feel fully comfortable with your trainer. They need to read your moods and pick the right motivator to get you moving.
Enter the lovely Liz. I was introduced to Liz by a new acquaintance and she is proving to be a good personality fit for me and brings the right balance of variety and fun. Once again, gentle in manner, Liz help me find my own space to work in to reach my own goals – no matter who else is in the class.
Due the inconstant nature of my exercise routine this year I am out of shape – and the all the chocolaty comfort that eased the moving stress is showing. This is making it harder to find the mindset to turn up. A bit heavier and out of shape makes it harder to move, and it’s uncomfortable being out breath more easily than I’m used to.
But I’m getting there – step, by skip, by squat.
So my recipe for motivation
Looking at all of this, I can see certain patterns of motivation for me that will help me keep on outsmarting myself and turing up:
- Fun and friends
- Variety that includes weights, boxing and other resistance exercise
- A trainer who brings a gentle style and works with me for my goals
- A place and space for mindful exercise that brings a feeling of peace
- Adding in to mix is taking walks with friends, family and even alone. I haven’t written about walking – but I walk as well and it’s important.
- Reminding myself that the time and money spent on exercising is worth the health and wellbeing it brings. It pays itself off – because it’s my life I’m investing in and I like to think I’m worth it.
So these are the motivators I’ve discovered. I’m curious what works for you? How do you outsmart yourself? Let me know – I’m listening and willing to try new ideas.