Have you ever watched those energetic people running past your window, red cheeked and sweating and thought ‘I wish I wanted to do something like that!’? We know the benefits exercise has for our bodies and minds but there is something inside us that just doesn’t want to do it. We secretly desire to have more energy, greater stamina, less puffing and panting going up the stairs and as much as we understand that what we are doing currently is not getting us any closer to that outcome, we just can’t seem to find the motivation.
Part of me certainly envies those people who can spend hours in the gym and enjoy it. Another part of me, and this is by far the dominant part, thinks it all looks too much like hard work and sweat and can happily give it a miss forever.
So what do you do when one part of you wants to get fit and the other part keeps coming up with excuses for staying at home on the couch? I believe that there are two possible solutions to this dilemma.
1) Change your mindset
2) Change the exercise
Change your mindset
There are so many things that we can do in our day which constitute physical exercise but don’t have to be thought of in that way. Certainly for me, if I have to think about going out and getting some exercise in a gym for example, I will find absolutely anything else to do with my time. Anything. Jigsaws anyone? However, when we arrange to do things together as a family or with friends, they can include pretty much any physical activity you please and it doesn’t take much to convince me to get involved.
For example, every weekend we spend some lovely time meeting extended family at the beach with the dog and going for a walk along it together. Admittedly our mouths get just as much of a work out as our legs as we catch up on the week’s events but that’s OK. Our son loves rock climbing and squash and half an hour keeping him entertained with that a couple of times a week is enough to build up anyone’s stamina. In the holidays we took our children to an adventure park and spent hours hiking up steps to the water slides. It was really only the next day that I realised how much of a workout my legs got doing that. My point is that if I think of these things in terms of the exercise I am getting when I do them, they are more likely to seem like a chore and less like the fun that they really are.
One of the rules of course has to be that Mum is not allowed to sit and mind the bags. If the kids and Dad are playing football at the park, Mum needs to play football. If they are swimming at the beach, she can’t be sitting with the towels. Absolutely there are times when a tired mother can sit and relax while the children play and this will be affected by the age of the children and whether they have had her up half the night or out of bed at the crack of dawn. If sitting and watching is our default position however, we are missing out on a lot more than just the exercise the activity gives us. I believe that we forget how much fun actually joining in with these thinge can be.
Change the exercise
There are always going to be different types of activities that interest different people. The challenge is to find something that we are interested in and that keeps us motivated to come back week after week.
I have a friend who is a personal trainer and she is motivated by the thought of punching bags, sit ups and tossing heavy ropes around. For me that just sounds like torture. Another friend is in a running group which trains twice a week then goes for a long run on the weekends. Again, this is the last thing I can see myself doing, particularly since I developed a Baker’s cyst behind my knee a few years ago. Another friend loves the challenge of orienteering and spends hours tramping through the bush, map in hand looking for clues to find the destination. This is something that I might be interested in one day in the future
For myself over the years I have tried my hand at netball (not a fan), pilates (OK but a bit boring), swimming (alright but involves getting wet) and a number of different classes at the local recreation centre. The one thing however that I keep coming back to is dancing. I have danced since I was a small child and it is interesting to me that there are so many little girls doing dance classes and then when they become adults they simply stop. Luckily I have found a fantastic adult Tap and Jazz class which allows me to enjoy learning and even performing routines with a fabulous bunch of ladies. Because I enjoy this form of exercise, I look forward to going to class and am disappointed if something comes up which causes me to miss a week.
Find some type of physical activity you enjoy for its own sake.
Once we find something that interests us and keeps us motivated, the benefits the exercise has on our physical and mental wellbeing are just a pleasant side effect.
So here is my challenge for you this week:
1) Change your mindset about exercise, stop minding the bags and get involved in activities with the family.
2) Change the exercise you are doing if you are not enjoying it. Think back to the things you used to enjoy doing as a child. Can you reclaim that sense of excitement as an adult and get involved in something similar?
Good luck with creating more opportunities for movement in your week.