I finally went running for the first time yesterday since we’ve moved here to France! I had almost forgotten how good it feels and how important exercise is to help you with pretty much everything. So I put together some points to help you get motivated to start if you haven’t been exercising regularly and to encourage you to keep going if you do! It helps with everything, and it is definitely something worth learning about, and trying out!! And definitely extra important for us busy moms, and really anybody who has a lot going on in their life!!
-It Will Not Be Fun At First, Keep At It Anyway
First of all, we have to acknowlege that it may not be fun or feel good at all at first. Recognize that your body doesn’t like doing new things– your brain and body likes its patterns and does not want to make new programs. But those new programs are what keep it active, alert and ready to go. Exercising makes your entire body including your brain work. So if you are hating it, that is a good sign that you are making some good new neurological connections. Your muscles and joints will not want to do new things either. Just keep going, they will all thank you later, and you will eventually LOVE it.
I joined the Cross Country team in high school because I got cut from the soccer team and wanted to be in shape for basketball. I didn’t mind the workouts too much because we could talk to each other while we ran. But I felt awful after my first race– there was this huge hill that seemed to go straight up vertically, I finished the 3 mile race, but I told my coach I thought that was it, I was done. He said knowlingly, “you’ll be back.” And I showed up for practice the very next day. I learned to truly love running and my workouts. We would joke about it definitely being an acquired taste and how crazy we were to actually enjoy running insane distances. Exercise feels so good, of all the things I did in high school, sports was the best and running Cross Country and Track was the funnest! Experiencing how it feels to push my body and then to recover is something that has certainly benefited me my whole life.
But ask pretty much anybody who exercises regularly if they love it, and you will hear various stories of yes and how they came to really enjoy it.
Here are a couple photos I have taken on my runs over the past year– a definite upside is being out in nature too:
-Start Slowly– Slow and Steady Wins the Race
It is very important to start slowly and to listen to your body. If your foot hurts after a workout, then don’t feel bad walking or just doing upper body stuff for a few days. Tone down your workout. Overdoing exercise is the opposite of slow and steady. Tai Lopez tells of some famous fighter who said he was more scared of the fighter who practices the same kick everyday, that the guy who does a bunch of kicks one day and none the next. Be patient, change will happen over time. It is the daily acts that run together into something great. You will get stronger, faster, and better, but not in one day or even in one month. But keep at it, and you will see improvement. And that will continue to motivate to keep going. It is the beginning of a positive feedback loop instead of a negative one.
I was unable to keep up my running through my pregnancies, but I was able to do aerobics, pilates and yoga. Many days I would just do a 20 minute video, that was all. Eventually between each pregnancy I would run. I always started very slowly, barely more than a walk and I would go no more than 1 mile the first few times. Then I would add a half mile each week or so over time as I felt ready until I got up to 2 or 3 miles. I would run that 3-4 times a week, with aerobics on the off days if I could- often no more than 20 min. videos as time was an issue for me with lots of babies and toddlers running around.
When my last baby was 3, I started running seriously again. I had worked up to running a 2 mile loop about 3-4 times a week with some aerobics videos or yoga or weights or whatever I felt like, nothing all that strenuous. I started just running to the end of our road and back which was about .6 miles, and then did twice the next time. I hate being sick and I hate being injured, so I take the starting small very seriously. Even just starting to go on a daily walk of 1 mile everyday can work wonders for your body and your mind.
I was then challenged to do a Tough Mudder, so I downloaded Hal Higdons training plan for the half marathon novice level 1 plan, adjusted it to fit my schedule, immediately started running 3 miles instead of 2 and followed it pretty closely for the running part. I also found some weight routines to prepare for it also, and I did just fine. My weak shoulder that has 3 screws in it from a shoulder surgery stayed in tact just fine, although there was one obstacle that I was a little nervous about. But the working out did its job. A little at a time. It builds. Don’t overdo it, don’t go too fast– that’s how you get injured.
Here are photos from the Tough Mudder — 10 miles and a bunch of obstacles, you can see I still had some weight to lose, but I had lost 10 lbs. at that point and have lost 10 lbs. since, just by keeping at it, and most importantly, I felt awesome and healthy! And the Tough Mudder was really fun– like a playground for grown-ups, they now have a Tough Mudder half too, if that looks like something you might want to do– I highly recommend it! :
-Notice Your Body and Your Emotions
Take note of how you feel on the days you exercise and the days you do not. At first you may feel worse on the days you exercise, but if you keep at it, you will start to feel better on the days you workout than on the days you don’t. Eventually, you will even start to look forward to your workouts.
I always feel better when I exercise. I can be totally overwhelmed and feel like I don’t really have time to exercise because I have a ton of cleaning to do, dishes to wash, errands to run, or who knows what else to do. But when I finish a jog or a yoga session or a home video — everything is manageable and wonderful again. I see it more realistically and I know that I will be able to get the important things done. Life is great after a workout! And if I am especially cranky or feeling stressed, more often than not, it’s probably because I had not exercised for a couple of days.
This is part of run in Connecticut where I ran my first half marathon. It was super cool and amazing. It is one of the many things I will miss not living in New England, it was just absolutely gorgeous, most of it on a trail. The last 3 miles were hard, but I did it and it felt awesome after!!
-Find Something You Enjoy
We are all different and we do not need or enjoy the same types of exercise. Find something that you like and can and will keep doing. My grandma played golf once a week and walked 3 miles everyday and that was perfect for her, she did it for years and it kept her healthy for a long long time. I have a friend who loves dancing and zumba, she has her favorite classes, and that’s what she does. I have another friend who loves the treadmill because she watches videos while she jogs. Another woman loves water aerobics, because she started out pretty heavy and the water made her feel weightless. There is swimming, biking, boating, hiking, team sports, kayaking, climbing, skiing, dancing, yoga, pilates, martial arts, etc. The list goes on and on!!
Here are a couple photos of swimming, soccer and karate:
Another idea to make exercise more enjoyable is to listen to audio books or podcasts or lectures while you walk, run, jog, paddle, step or whatever. It also helps a ton to have an exercise partner to keep you accountable and going when you might otherwise take the day off. I hardly remember I am running when I go with a friend– we just talk while we run, it brings in another added element of social health and wellness.
I have to also give yoga its own mention– yoga requires nothing besides just focusing on your breath and your body movements. It is really nice to slow down and give yourself a lovely break. I love yoga classes, I will have to find one around here. It is amazing how good you feel after a yoga class. That really keeps you going back, and in that positive feedback loop. And nowadays all kinds of yoga videos, aerobic videos, tabata, HIIT, strength, dance and other videos are free on youtube to try out!
This is a Denise Austin video I purchased years ago and have done many times. I purchased it again on amazon, I liked it so much. (affiliate link). But here it is the first part free on youtube:
– Make It A Priority
Finally, just make it a top priority and do it. The benefits have been proven over and over again by science and you can see results just by looking around. You will feel better about yourself. You will show yourself that you can persevere and do hard things. You will get stronger physically and emotionally and mentally. You will be healthier. Your organs will work better. Your lymph nodes will be able to clear out toxins more efficiently. You will feel good and you will look good too! I get told all the time that I look great for having 8 kids!! (I may not look that great, but for 8 kids– I’m amazing!)
Figure out the best time for you to exercise. Is it right after the baby goes down for a nap? Right when you get up in the morning? just before you go to bed? or in the afternoon? Lots of times work fine, just figure out how to be consistent. Put it on your to do list so you don’t forget. You will feel awesome!!
Exercising is the one thing I managed to do through all my pregnancies and child rearing years. It kept me sane. It was something I had to do by myself for myself– no one else could do it for me. And it kept me feeling like a real live person. Often and for many years, my idea of a workout was a 20 minute Denise Austin video, 30 if I had some extra time. I figured that if I didn’t have at least 20 minutes to spend exercising, then that wasn’t a real great life. 20 minutes is not much time, but it was enough to make me feel sane and happy and productive through those many baby and toddler years I managed.
It may seem hard in the middle of a workout, but I promise you will feel so good when you are done– for lots of reasons!! So get to to it!! Go exercise– get that heart beating, that blood circulating and those lungs working. Even a 5 minute walk is a wonderful start!! And remember with weight loss, losing 1/2 lb. a week adds up to 24 lbs in a year that will probably never come back. Do a little and start to build– it all counts!!
Here is a picture from my second and last half marathon I’ve done with my running partner and good friend– see how much fun we are having!! I miss her! (just thought of another benefit of exercise– making friends and bonding with people — I did the Tough Mudder with my daughter which was great) :