I have been blogging a series through the month of August about my journey to health at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. The first thing that people think about when they they see “fitness journey” is exercise… but just as important in a fitness journey is the food that you eat and the sleep that you get. In the first post I wrote about how we have learned to eat rainbows. In the second week I wrote about getting more sleep. This week I am going to write about working out.
I have to say I am just a mom, squeezing in workouts whenever I can… A year and a half ago I started working out with a goal to move. I felt like I had collapsed in a heap and I just couldn’t get moving again… turns out with small steps and just sticking at it, and tons of encouragement, I can actually move. I am no super athlete there no awesome times, no fancy gear, no extreme workouts, no special formulas, it is simply getting up and getting to the gym day after day after day. Remembering to rejoice at the improvements and not despair at the plateaus and just getting moving again.
A Week of Workouts
I have to say that I got quite a surprise when I started putting this post together and I realised just how much exercise I do, compared to a year and a half ago when I was doing almost nothing. I can hear a lot of you saying how even… well the morning workouts I do before my kids wakeup… I get home from gym as they start to stir and the evening runs happen just two nights a week and on those nights I delegate dinner making to the kids… if your kids aren’t there yet, they will be. Remember we are all in different seasons of parenting… at this stage we have five teenagers and one of the perks to that is a presentable dinner two nights a week.
So if I look at the workouts I do right now, and yes it is always changing (!)… Tuesday and Thursday mornings I have gym class. I love these classes, they are always challenging and I always push harder than I think I can at them. On Mondays and Wednesday’s I could join a class but I choose to do my own workout: I swim a km, I cycle on the Watt bike for 10 minutes and then I do all the weights in the super circuit. That’s all my gym mornings filled up. I run two nights a week… I can’t run the night before a gym class – my legs are always too dead for class the next day, so I have to run the nights I have an actual class in the morning, it works for now. We do live on a mountain, so wherever I run there will be hills, I grab a couple of kids and on one night a week we do a shorted hilly run, and the other night a week we do a longer (read very slow) run. And on Saturday we all Parkrun together… and it took a year and a half, but now I actually run those… and again… I am going to say by running I mean really slowly.
Let’s Talk About the Journey
I didn’t wake up one day and decide that I was going to exercise almost every day of the week and I certainly wouldn’t start saying what everyone should or shouldn’t be doing. When I began working out I was really doing a weekly walk with my kids on the mountain, and that was it in terms of exercise. Then I started the Beginner Healthy Weight Programme and I had a gym class three mornings a week, I thought I would complete the eight week course, I would suffer the early morning wake up call for just eight weeks and then I would go back to my regular life. But I started to feel so much better from working out that I didn’t want to stop what I had started.
After a while I started doing the Parkrun as a walk on Saturday mornings… and that has evolved into three runs a week. The big lesson here is “slowly but surely…” I am definitely not a super athlete, but tiny step by tiny step I am getting better and better at working out. Then I went to a triathlon workshop, and thought, “hmmmm remember when I used to swim…” Now I swim two mornings a week. Who knows what will inspire me next…
Just Keep Going
A couple of things have really helped me to get closer to my “Goal to move…” Firstly, consistency is key… gym classes are non-negotiable for me, I have to be there, there is no decision to make. My swimming day workouts at gym I consider to be a gift to myself… (see how I market gym to myself!)… I love swimming, it totally energises me and I never feel like I have done a workout, also I can’t measure swimming because my fitbit isn’t waterproof… so it really is a free gift to myself. Otherwise, I try and move all day everyday… and since I got my fitbit and I realised that I could actually accumulate footsteps all day long and not just at “gym o’clock” thats exactly what I do. I walk all day long… walk while I talk to kids, walk to the mailbox, walk to the store for one thing, walk to the store for another thing… walk, walk, walk all day long. In fact whenever I sit down for a while, I remember and get up again. The more you move the easier it is to move. I almost never get less than 10000 footsteps, and if we add a hike into the day, then 20000 footsteps is easy. I don’t count hiking as exercise… it is way too much fun to be called a workout!!!
What I can say is, don’t think you can’t do it… even with kids underfoot. Just start moving – you will feel better for it. Honestly, I really thought I would never run again, I really thought I was way past swimming lengths… and as for lifting weights or walking 10000 footsteps on a daily basis… it seems crazy that I could even think about doing that… and a year and a half later… I can’t imagine not doing this. I feel so much better for it, I feel stronger than ever and I never want to go back to just watching everyone else workout again. It really can be done… even when you totally don’t believe it. Find something that you enjoy and stick with it… very soon you will think of something else you enjoy and before you know it, you actually can be moving.
As the Brand Ambassador for the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa I receive free access to the gym and their programme, however this is not a sponsored post and all opinions are truly my own.