I’m a fitness failure. I’ve joined gyms; I’ve quit gyms. I’ve signed up for group classes; I’ve quit group classes. I’ve tried to give clean eating a go; I’ve put down a sleeve of Pringles during one episode of Fixer Upper. So why do I think I have any authority whatsoever to offer fitness advice?! Because I get it. I get how it feels to have a heartful of good intentions but a weak will convincing me to do otherwise. A brain who comprehends how exercise and eating well is good for you, but a body who really freakin’ loves bacon cheeseburgers and cabernet. It’s not easy, damn it, and I’m not here to tell you it is or give you a quick fix. ‘Cause if there’s one thing I’ve learned on my personal fitness journey, it’s that lasting change comes from getting up and starting over. Again. And again. And again.
So here we are. In a new year. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably promised yourself (once again) to exercise more and eat better. If you’re also like me, you probably start to trip over excuses that sabotage your best-laid plans about a month or so in. So before that little voice in your head starts losing her shit, I want to share with you the most common excuses and reasons for fitness failure, and what you can do to avoid ‘em. Get ready for a little tough love.
1. “I don’t have the time.”
As a mom of two and a professional that has worked both in an office and at home, I hear you. But here’s the thing. Your health isn’t a hobby. It isn’t an indulgence. It’s a necessity—like brushing your teeth and getting a checkup. For you to be the best mom, wife, sister, friend, boss lady and badass bitch you can be, you must ensure that the body running the whole show is running like the well-oiled machine that it should.
According to Melissa Arps, certified American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist, all you need is 30 minutes out of your day. “The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity like walking or biking, or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity like running or HIIT training a week.” Now I’m not great at math, but that comes out to about 3 to 5 days a week. Totally doable, right? If you can’t drag your butt out of bed 30 minutes earlier in the morning (yep, me too), try taking a brisk walk over your lunch hour or crush an online cardio video when baby is napping. Trust me, your email inbox or dirty laundry will still be waiting for you when you get back.
2. “Ouch, it hurts.”
Chances are, you did too much too soon. I always start my new commitment to fitness going balls to the wall to make up for lost time. The result? I can barely sit on a toilet seat the day after a leg workout without wanting to pass out from the pain.
Some soreness is to be expected, especially when you’re starting out. And, usually, light movement that gets the blood flowing will help ease discomfort in the day that follows. But if you’re walking around like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
“People tend to start out gangbusters and then hit a wall,” shares Melissa. “There’s no shame in starting slow. Start out two days a week until your body adapts. Then think about adding another day or two. You don’t have to be in pain to prove you got a good workout in. Yes, feeling muscle fatigue in your workouts is important. But just because you’re not in agony the next day, doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard enough.”
Also, fitness isn’t a one size fits all. “Every person’s body responds differently to different activities,” says Melissa. “Experiment and find what your body responds to best. If you have joint problems, avoid jumping activities. If it hurts when you run, try an indoor cycling class or jump on a piece of cardio equipment. Exercise should feel good—not easy, but good.”
(Image above designed by Freepik)
3. You didn’t see results quick enough.
“I’ve worked out for a week and the scale hasn’t budged!” Girl, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither will you be. Consider your commitment to fitness a lifestyle, not a short-term fix.
And let’s talk about the scale, shall we? She can be a real jerk. And many times, if we don’t like what we see, we give up. That time of the month, increased muscle mass, the salty dinner we ate the night before can all affect the number between our feet. Instead, Melissa recommends doing a body composition test, which measures body fat and muscle mass, every 6 to 8 weeks for a more accurate picture of your progress. Local gyms often provide these tests for a small fee. Or just go by how your clothes feel! If you’re feeling good, then that’s all you really need to know, isn’t it?
If you do decide to be a slave to the scale, weigh yourself only once a week at the very most and at the same time of day.
4. “I don’t even know where to begin.”
First things first, make a plan. Be realistic in your goal setting. Creating a plan before you end up in a rut is the key to success. If you’ve failed before, think about the barriers that got in your way and find ways around them, so you don’t end up once again where you started.
You do you. Do whatever will make you most successful—something you enjoy (or, at least, just don’t hate). If working out at home fits your schedule, invest in a piece of cardio equipment like a stationary bike, rower or treadmill, as well as some smaller equipment like a stability ball, bands and dumbbells. Clear the kids’ toys and make a space that’s clutter free and allows you to focus. Find some good online classes or begin with body weight exercises—squats, kneeling planks, bridges—and moderate cardio like walking. Here are two simple workouts from Melissa at Fox River Workouts to get you started:
If you’re the social type, join a gym. Find a non-intimidating environment where you feel comfortable and, if possible, a good instructor that will help correct your form. “Don’t feel like you’re getting picked on when they offer advice,” says Melissa. “Remember, they are there for you and want you to be successful.”
5. “But I’m so bored!”
Trust me, a goldfish has a longer attention span than I do. That’s why I like to mix things up. Sign up for a 5K with friends or your family (that’s mine, below, after we finished the Color Run), find a group of neighbors and start a walking club or sign up for a weekend yoga retreat. Likewise, there are so many free fitness apps and online options, as well as quality subscription services that provide dozens of classes just a click away. (I use the Beachbody app and, no, I don’t make any money off of telling you that.) Check out your local community center offerings and get outside whenever you can! Plan for the seasons—take up cross-country skiing in winter, hiking in spring, kayaking in summer and mountain biking in fall.
More Secrets to Fitness Success!
Mix in workouts to keep things interesting but find activities that are sustainable (something you know you can stick with).
Consistency is key. Set a realistic goal, such as working out three days a week, and stick to it. Whatever you do, keep on keeping on.
Fitness and eating well are more attainable in moderation. Find a body weight that’s comfortable for you and feel good in that space. Focus on how you feel rather than what the scale says. If you’re making good choices most of the time, results will follow.
Practice mindfulness. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re eating clean and moving more. Use that feeling as motivation.
If you’re not putting good things in your body, don’t expect to see good results.
Don’t forget about incorporating movement that includes balance and agility. As we age, these become just as important as strength and cardio.
Skip spot training and work each major muscle group in varying directions and angles for better all-over results.
Recovery is just as important as the workout itself! Tackle tightness with a foam roller. Treat yourself to a massage once a month. Stretch every morning for 10 minutes.
Be flexible! Hiccups are going to happen—someone is going to sick, you’ll need to travel for work, etc. Find the very next opportunity for fitness and get after it. Doing SOMETHING is always better than doing NOTHING.
It’s okay to cheat every now and again. Just because you indulged in this or relished a little in that, doesn’t mean the rest of the day is a wash. Adopting an all-or-none attitude will do you no favors. Skip the guilt trip and get back on the wagon. Fitness is a marathon, not a race.
NEED MORE INSPIRATION? Check out these GOAL-BUSTING QUOTES!
A special thanks to Melissa Arps (left) for offering her expertise! If you’re ready to embark on your fitness journey and live in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, area, consider signing up for one of Melissa’s Fox River Workouts group fitness classes conveniently offered in her home at Foxriverworkouts@yahoo.com.
© Rachael Liska, happyhearthappyhome.com
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