So it has been wedding season over here, and family does come first, but time to get back onto the blogging bandwagon and since more than a few folk have been asking me, “What happened to the podcast?” I am starting the week with a fresh podcast episode and the habit of Moving. The very last thing that you feel like doing ever… especially here in the middle of winter. But to be honest, it is the best time to get moving, even a little bit… If for no other reason than because it keeps you warmer and our wintry mornings have been icy. That being said, I have discovered that the more you move the better you get at it… even the smallest movement has lead to something bigger in my life, over and over again.
This week on the Podcast I am talking about the habit of moving, the habit of exercise, every single day. Five years ago I started a fitness journey, I had no idea where it would take me… but I did know that it would get me off the couch. I was at the stage in my life where my fitness was so low that I was uncomfortable… I was choosing to sit rather than move, because it was so much easier. My head was ready to get up and go on adventures but my body was definitely not up to more than an evening amble.
Season 2 on the Podcast and Healthy Habits
- Habit 1: Sustainable Sleep
- Habit 2: Relaxing Reading
- Habit 3: Healthy Eating
- Habit 4: Fabulous Fun
- Habit 5: Mindful Mornings
How to Get Started
I took my very first step when I was asked to join a six week fitness group at Sport Science… my head leaped at the chance… my body not so much. I was horrified to discover that not only were my eating habits appalling, I was a living, but only just, sleep deprivation experiment. I was so tired that I could hardly exercise… I had no idea it was fatigue, I actually thought it was just lack of fitness… anyway the program got me to gym two days a week, and then I added a Parkrun into my week. Slowly but surely… very slowly, I built it up into moving everyday. I had forgotten how good it felt to move everyday, to head to a mountain top and actually get there. I loved working out and I loved gym… I loved it. And I think that is the secret… you have to love it.
To create a habit of moving everyday, the most important step is to commit to that movement. I know when I started out two days a week sounded like more than enough… but as time went on, I realised how much better I felt after working out… and I had to find ways to do it more often. Even my kids would ask pointedly, “Did you go to gym this morning?” When it was time for that mid-morning slump… they could tell on the days that I did and didn’t… exercise is most definitely a mood balancer!!!
I realised that while I couldn’t go to gym class every day, there were ways that could change it up and add other kinds of exercise into a day. I am always ready to try new things, me, the person that cried the first day back at gym because they asked me to walk around the track. I am not sure it is even 100 m, but I knew it was too much for me… walk and never run. I started adding a walk to my days that I wasn’t at gym… I started adding the odd swim into the mix and before I knew it, I had slowly built it up to a daily rhythm of moving.
It took me a year to be able to actually run a parkrun, yes I was that unfit, I could not have imagined running five kilometres… from there I just wanted to go further and built up to a couple of half marathons… and then lockdown. It could have ended it all… but I am feisty about things like that. It is two years since we had that crazy season of being forced to stay home for lockdown. At first we were not allowed out the front gate and I decided to save my and my dog’s sanity, that we would walk 2km around our garden everyday. If you could see our garden… It is tiny, basically a flight of stairs… so up and down we went every single day and if it was pouring with rain, well round and round the kitchen table. Three weeks of this madness became six and eventually we were let out of our properties… and I cried at the freedom!!! The freedom to stretch my legs and run again… gotta say we still were not allowed on our beaches or the mountain… but I vowed never to take that freedom for granted again. I promised myself I would get out and walk/hike/run 2km every single day until the end of lockdown… and now it is a habit… I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Se7en Tips to Keep on Going
- Commitment: So the first thing is commitment… I am committed to going my 2km every single day, anything else is a bonus… if I swim couple of miles that’s extra, if do a weights session at gym that’s extra… my commitment is to 2km. Whatever the weather.
- Start with One: The second thing that really helps is to find things you can actually do. Don’t be afraid to start nowhere… during lockdown I started doing workouts online, with Dame Kelly Holmes and Military in Motion. There was a lot in every workout that I actually couldn’t do. I definitely couldn’t skip. But I started… I stopped trying to keep up with everyone else and I decided while other folks were doing twenty, I would do just one. Just one skip… it’s laughable I know, but soon enough I was doing two, then three and skipping along. It can be done if you start with one. I know it sounds ridiculously simple, but the easier it is, the more likely you are to succeed. And success breeds success. Try just one push-up, one jump on a step, one skip with a skipping rope… ridiculous but try… the next time try two…
- Find a Friend: Another thing that helps is to workout with a friend… You won’t find a friend to do everything with you, but one friend for one thing and another for another. During lockdown, working out on zoom with the gals from Military in Motion was a lifesaver… and I never go on my daily run without one of my kids or my dogs for company. Swimming, I never swim alone – it is a safety thing. I would never venture forth on a swim in the ocean without a companion, it is essential. And even though I often head for the hills on my own, I always have my dogs along side me for encouragement and enthusiasm.
- Believe in the Benefits: Science tells us to get more exercise, we know we should, but we don’t because we don’t feel the benefits immediately. The benefits of working out and clearing my head from day to day stresses far outweigh the benefits of sitting on the couch, not just for myself but for those around me. I have more energy, I am more creative and I lose that suck in a rut feeling. In fact, on those days when the weather is extreme and the thought of stepping out of the door is just overwhelming – those are the days to head out for sure!!!
- Sign Up for a Class: Sign up for something, join a weekly run group, join a “once a week” gym class, sign up for a race at the end of the month. I recently joined a swim squad once a week and it is way over my head, quite literally. I have to wear fins just to chug along at the back, but I am seeing a massive improvement. I’ll tell you why a love it, it raises my game immensely. I have had to correct my lazy swim stroke, just to keep up, something that I had been meaning to work on for ages. And I can assure you that I never work so hard when I swim on my own. If you want to improve… join a class and stick with it.
- Add some Weights: Don’t forget the weights… I know it sounds crazy, but your body doesn’t mind when or where you do a weight workout. I keep my weights on the kitchen counter… when I am waiting for the kettle to boil I will do a few bent-over arm rows, some bicep curls, and some shoulder presses. Nothing magical… three sets of ten three times a day and you are winning. Weights make you stronger, in sport speech “better”… they are good for your bone density, and they make you feel like a feisty athlete… even the lowest weights. If you don’t have actual weights: tin cans or water bottles will do the trick.
- Be Kind to Yourself: It doesn’t have to be super sport, sometimes you need to be gentle on yourself, be kind on those days, or in those weeks that you cannot work out to your max. Sometimes the workout you need is actually just a good stretch out. Don’t stress out about it, listen to your body… if you had a terrible night’s sleep or you still feel tired from yesterday then keep moving, but be gentle. A walk on the beach can be just as good for the soul as a hard run on tough trails.
That’s it, know the benefits and have a good reason why… Moving and working out makes me feel better about life, love and everything else. A lot better. But my big reason why is that I love how a lifestyle of exercise means that I am always ready for an adventure… if someone asks me if I would like to join them on a hike, a run, a swim … whatever, I can say yes, immediately. I don’t have to say yes, well in a couple of weeks. Now is the time, seize the day!!!