When it comes down to it, the real reason you’re not exercising consistently is because you are a taker. You want to take the pounds away with exercise, rather than give your body the other benefits. I was a taker for years. I would work out 5-6 days a week like a maniac for 4-12 weeks, hit my goal, then be like, “thank you Jesus I don’t have to do that anymore!” Not only would I stop working out so intensely, I would stop working out altogether. Then would begin the process of the not-so-slow weight gain and the vow to myself to get rid of it again (once I stopped the blame and shame gain over having done so well, only to gain the weight back). Started to work out again SUCKS! The fat jiggles, you can’t do what you used to and the anger and shame build up, sometimes overtaking your desire to lose weight and get fit, so you quit. Or you work past walking like Frankenstein for a few days and build up your fitness. Being uncomfortable is not fun, but if you stop stopping, you won’t have to start up again.
Might I propose a new way?
STOP EXERCISING TO LOSE WEIGHT. Try exercising to feel good and see what happens. I have been a consistent exerciser for 4 years. My weight has fluctuated some during that time for various reasons, but my consistency with exercising has not. Why? I got used to how good it feels to move my body and be in the sunshine on my bike and with my friends. I love that I can climb 4-6 flights of stairs at work before my heart starts beating hard. I love that my blood pressure is low instead of borderline high and that I can run 6 miles, ride 100 and deadlift 225 pounds. I have been able to do that at 178 pounds and at 145 pounds. Here are the main things I used to get me there:
- Get rid of diet mentality.
Exercise to feel better, not to lose weight
- Pick something you like to do.
If you don’t like to run, for goodness sake, DON’T RUN. There are a zillion other ways to get your body moving and your heart pumping. Your assignment is to find the one(s) that you enjoy so you keep doing them.
- Find fitness friends.
I have to say that my cycling buddies have saved me when I have been on a lazy streak. They push me to go further and inspire me to do my best (and drag me out of the house when I don’t feel like riding)
- Have fitness goals.
Sometimes the best way to keep you moving along is to sign up for that race, or to choose a goal. I wanted to be able to run a 5K (3.1 miles) without walking. The only way to get better was to run on a regular basis. I took 3rd place in my age group that year 🙂
- Keep a fitness journal.
You can do this the old-fashioned pen and paper way, or you can log your workouts and progress on a number of fitness apps. I use Strava. It’s a great way to see what you have been doing and your friends can cheer you on = more accountability
- Don’t let yourself off the hook.
When I decided that I was going to be an exerciser for life, I also decided what that would look like, giving myself a minimum baseline. This is a minimum that you commit to doing for the rest of your life and it should be as easy NOT to do it as it is TO do it. So for example, you can commit to yourself that you will do your preferred exercise for 5 minutes, 3 times a week. As exercise becomes more of a priority, you can increase it. Since my schedule is kind of crazy, I decided that my minimum baseline would look like this: I will not go more than 2 days without moving my body for at least 30 minutes. Yes, there are times when I am tired, or life is just kicking my butt and scheduling is haywire. I am an afternoon/evening exerciser so this happens. I don’t beat myself up about it, but I know that if 2 days have passed, on that third day, I’m doing something, because I literally start to feel like something is off.
What is the minimum baseline you are committing to? (I will exercise ___ times per week for ____ minutes) If you haven’t exercised in a while, or you have been on and off the exercise bandwagon multiple times, choose something small, that it takes little to no time and effort to get in to.
What activities do you enjoy doing?
What can you do to make it higher on the enjoyment scale? (add music, catch up on TV shows, join a group or have a fitness buddy, get a cute new workout outfit?)