Something that I hope is very obvious through this blog is that I am passionate about making and eating delicious food. But something that I don’t talk about often is how I’m equally as passionate about fitness. But it has not always been this way for me. You can read about my journey to a healthier life HERE.
For the last two years, every morning (except Sunday), I wake up to my 6 am alarm, put on my exercise clothes that I’ve set out the night before and start sweating! I used to despise exercising until I stopped making excuses for myself and made it a habit. Of course I’ve missed days here and there, but overall, I’m in a consistent exercise routine and loving the new life I’ve created.
I posted a poll on Instagram stories and the vast majority of you said you’d like to hear about my exercise routine. I thought it would be best to set the stage first with how I got into a habit of exercise. I’ll share in a later post about what I do for exercise.
I’ve never been consistent about exercising until the last two years. Now that I’ve started a regular exercise routine, I have more energy, so I’m more productive in general, I eat better (don’t worry, I still enjoy desserts), I’m feeling stronger both mentally and physically and I just feel better overall!
Excuses I used to make for myself:
- I have young kids and I don’t have the energy.
- I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
- 6 am is too early.
- I just don’t feel like it.
- I have too much to do today.
- I’ve had a rough week.
- My husband’s out of town.
- The kids woke up early and need me.
- It’s my time of the month. Ugh.
- I’m not in shape and it’s too hard.
- I don’t know what workout to do.
- I’m sore from yesterday’s workout.
- Exercising today isn’t going to make up for overeating yesterday.
And the list could go on and on. My excuses varied from day to day, but they were always there. And then one day I decided I wasn’t going to make excuses for myself anymore. This was a pivotal moment in my fitness journey. I started setting my alarm, because I figured out that, for me, exercise had to happen early before anything else or it just wasn’t going to happen.
You know what’s crazy? The more I woke up to that alarm and got it done, the less I dreaded it. As I stopped allowing myself an “out” and got into better shape, I actually started looking forward to that morning sweat session. I started getting protective of it. Now I don’t want anything to get in the way of me and my workout. It’s my time to focus on getting fit so I can be my best self for me, my kids and my husband. I deserve it. They deserve it.
I shared a while ago about how I signed up for a 5k in 2018 and completed it in just over 21 and a half minutes. Next was a 7 mile trail race with my sister. The trail is notoriously difficult. I worked tirelessly to get ready for it. I knew it was going to be hard and I knew I needed to be prepared both mentally and physically. I had already bought a plane ticket out there and paid the race entry fee. There was no backing out! We tackled that together, placing first and second in our age divisions.
Then, in 2019 I completed two half marathons-one in April and the next in September. I never thought I’d be able to run 13 miles. I didn’t think I’d have the time to train for a half marathon. I didn’t think my knee (I had an injury years ago) or other joints could handle the distance. I didn’t think I was mentally strong enough to persevere. I didn’t want to train in the cold and snow. I was concerned that this more rigorous exercise schedule would get in the way of me being a good mom and wife. Again my excuses were endless.
But then I made the decision that I was going to do it and I went all in. I didn’t have the time for it, but I made the time for it. Some winter runs were especially cold and miserable, but I powered through. I got sick and missed training sessions, but I got right back at it when I could.
I completed my first half marathon in 1:40. I thought the last few miles might kill me. But I did it.
I completed the second one in 1:38. It wasn’t any easier, but I knew what to expect and how to push myself through the ups and downs (both literal and figurative). That feeling of crossing the finish after so much work, sweat, and sacrifice is indescribable!
I tell you these things not to boast in any way, but to let you know that I was once that person who rarely exercised and always wanted to be in shape. I’d look at others who were fit and think, “I wish I had the time, the energy, or the willpower for that”. I made excuses for myself for so long.
And then I made one pivotal decision that changed it all. I chose to wake up early every morning and exercise. I was unbending on that. Things got a little better (but not necessarily easier) every day that I did it. And now it’s a habit that I never want to give up. Of course there are still days that I resist doing it, days that I resent my alarm for daring to go off, and days that I miss for good reason or not, but I’ve made it an important part of my daily schedule and lifestyle. You can too!
How to make a habit of exercise:
- Stop making excuses. This is the #1 thing that had to change before I could make a consistent practice of exercise. My justifications (no matter how valid they seemed) prevented me from progressing for way too long. Think about it. If it’s important enough to us, we’ll do it. We eat because we have to, (and for me I really like to), to stay alive. We sleep so we can have energy the next day. We shower so our smell doesn’t offend others or ourselves. If we really want to exercise, we’ll make it happen. You are so much more capable than you think!
- Find the desire, let it light the fires within and keep that desire alive. This is much easier said than done. But once you motivate yourself, you’re more likely to be consistent. Find that reason that will drive you to be active each day. Maybe it’s that you want to have better health, get stronger, gain energy, endurance or to feel better and build confidence. Then decide and commit!
- Accept where you are at right now and start today! For the longest time, I didn’t start running again because it had been so long, I was out of shape and knew it would be hard to get back at it. So I eased back into it, starting with one mile and working my way up. Those first miles were so tough, but we all have to start somewhere! And the whole time I was running, while panting and wanting to lay down on the road and quit, I thought about how I was paving the way (step by step) for a healthier life.
- Set a specific fitness goal that you want to work towards (i.e. being able to run a mile without stopping or participating in a 5k or being able to plank for a minute straight, being able to lift a certain amount of pounds, being able to do 20 burpees straight or something like that). Just make sure it’s measurable and concrete.
- Set aside a specific time to exercise that works for you and stick to it. I’ve learned that I will never necessarily have the time for exercise, so I need to make the time for it. For me it has to be early in the morning, before I do anything else. For you it could be during your lunch break or right after work or after you put the kids to bed. We all have the same number of minutes in a day. We just choose to use them differently. Sometimes we need to sacrifice one thing in order to be able to do another more important thing. Consider giving up or giving less time to something that doesn’t contribute to your overall happiness or well being in order to exercise.
- Make it a priority. Make it an important part of your daily schedule and your lifestyle in general. This is similar to some of the other points, but I think it needs to stand alone as well. Think of exercise as something that is contributory enough to your well being that it deserves a place on your calendar every day.
- Set an alarm or a reminder on your phone. This does wonders for keeping me on track!
- Find a form of exercise that you don’t mind doing (you still might not like it). 🙂 Running is not for everyone, but maybe you enjoy bike riding, brisk walking with a neighbor, hiking, or swimming. There are tons of free workouts available online (I’ll share my favorites in another post). You do not need a gym membership to get into shape. I’ve never had one and probably never will.
- Be consistent and persistent. It’s ok to miss some days (and that’s totally expected), but don’t quit! It’s amazing how quickly we lose what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. Don’t give up!
- Set your workout clothes out ahead of time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slept through my alarm because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of digging my workout attire out of my drawers in the dark while my husband was sleeping.
- Track and recognize your progress. Give yourself credit for what you are accomplishing! If you’re working to be able to run a mile and you ran half a mile, celebrate it and commit to keep going! If you got out and walked every day for a week, pat yourself on the back and let it fuel you forward!
- Reward yourself for your achievements. Buy a new workout outfit or workout shoes if you reach your goal! Or treat yourself to a pedicure or some relaxation time.
So much of creating good habits is playing a mental game with yourself and winning. Sometimes it’s a daily battle. But in the case of exercise and so many other things, it’s more than worth it! I know you can do it!
This year I’ll be running a 10K in April and a third half marathon in September. I wish you all the best in your fitness goals!