I wish I could say I’ve loved exercise my whole life. Heck, I’d even settle for a love/hate relationship. But the fact is, I’ve absolutely detested any form of exercise that wasn’t dance.
I never did sports at school and while I danced a lot from 11 to 14, I gave it up in my final year of school to focus on my exams. I took up salsa dancing when I was 18 and while I lived and breathed it for a little while, gave that up to focus on my year 12 exams.
My bff and I started taking aerobics classes together at 20/21 but I slipped a disc in my back while doing an exercise wrong, unsupervised, and understandably, I never went back. Since then, all I’ve really managed to do is brisk walking now and then. I’m not a strong swimmer (I just splash around lots – its fairly embarrassing) so that isn’t an option, running isn’t feasible for me as I have a weak left ankle and I can’t do any high-intensity classes at the gym because of my bad back. So what does that leave me with? Not a lot, really. But that isn’t an excuse.
I’ve been more active than I ever have been lately and that’s because I’ve adopted a healthy and achievable outlook to exercise that is completely realistic, is aiding my efforts at Weight Watchers and is showing results on the scale. Thought I’d share what’s keeping this lazy girl going in the hope that it’ll resonate with readers who, like me, have physical limitations and just hate exercise on the whole.
Find an activity you love
And when I say love, I mean really, really love! Whether its the feel of the wind in your hair while you run or soaking in the beautiful countryside on a bike ride (James’ favourite activity). For me, like I mentioned before, I’ve always loved to dance. Which is why I tried out a Zumba class at my gym and I absolutely LOVE it. If you find an activity you love, it’ll give you something to look forward to and keep you going back for more every time! I love the latin (and sometimes cheesy retro) music my instructor plays, her fun and bubbly personality and the fact that the class is just like getting together and having a dance with the girls. I go to zumba at least twice a week, and whenever I go, I make sure I book in for the next week, because I love the class so much. I’m also thinking of enrolling in another dance fitness class on Sundays – hopefully I’ll like it just as much.
Do one activity with a goal
I’m not a fan of machine-based workouts. However, when I have a goal in mind and something to stay motivated and train for, I’m a lot more compelled to drag myself down to the gym. In this case, even though I can’t run, I am walking 5k in the Race For Life to raise money for Cancer Research. Its for an excellent cause, is an achievable and easy-enough-to-train-for goal and knowing my friends and family will believe in me and sponsor me makes me not want to let them down.
Make it a social experience
I’m more compelled to work out if my friends are around me, all in the same boat. Invite your friends down to your favourite fitness class or try a new one together. Or simply change up your routine a little. Instead of planning activities with your friends that include sitting at a restaurant and eating things you shouldn’t, catch up over a long walk, go on a shopping trip (expensive, but you’d be surprised how many steps you’ll have walked after!), take a salsa class, or simply, instead of standing around at a bar on a night out, pick a bar with a dance floor to burn off some of those cocktails and have an amazing time while you’re at it!
The same applies to dates with your significant other – instead of sitting across a dinner table, plan a dog walk or a hike to a local mountain or a bike ride through a park/forest. If you’re going on holiday, save money by walking as much as you possibly can instead of taking cabs. The more enjoyable you make the experience for yourself, the more you will want to do it. Exercise doesn’t need to be a chore.
Walk as much as you possibly can
I use a Fitbit and try to aim for 10,000 steps a day. I walk to the bus stop, walk from the bus stop to work and then repeat the process on the way home. Sometimes, if the weather is nice, I’ll get off a couple of stops early and enjoy the walk home while listening to some of my favourite songs – a little bit of leisurely me-time while still getting some exercise in. Simple things like walking to a restaurant to collect your food instead of sitting indoors waiting for it to be delivered or walking to the supermarket for something small instead of driving there can really count towards getting those steps up.
Another favourite way I trick myself into walking is whenever I shop online, I have the parcel delivered to a local store a bit of a walk away from me and then collect the parcel myself instead of having it delivered to my home. On days it isn’t too cold and raining, I’ll even walk to my Weight Watchers meeting, which is about a mile away, but with some good music, the walk is an absolute treat.
Use it as an opportunity to learn something new
Whether its martial arts or self-defence you’re interested in, or if you don’t know how to swim, taking a class that teaches you just that is a great way to learn a new skill and get some exercise in. When James is back from his trip, I plan on asking him to teach me how to ride a bicycle (yes – I’m almost 28 and still don’t know how!), one of my friends is giving me swimming lessons at a community pool in the summer and I plan on taking a Boxercise class at my gym once a week to learn how to kick some bad guy ass and unleash my inner Powerpuff girl.
It isn’t about how long, how hard or how often
A couple of years ago, I used to believe that if I didn’t have a full hour to dedicate to a workout today, I shouldn’t even bother going. This is where I was wrong and I’ve learned since and know better now. Even 15, 20 or 30 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise at all.
Also, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to work out every single day. Exercise needs to fit in with your life to truly become a part of it, not vice versa. Never listen to anyone who tells you you need to work out at least 5 times a week. If you can’t make it to the gym today because you’ve had a crazy day at work and are dreading going – do something enjoyable instead. I take my dogs on a walk or shut myself up in the bedroom and dance around to cheesy pop music for 30 minutes. My mood is better for it and I actually had some fun.
Similarly, if you’re unwell or its that time of the month or you just. don’t. want. to. go, don’t go. You’ll just resent it if you do. We all have those days when we’re just not feeling exercise. We’re only human. Just don’t let yourself be self-indulgent too often, kay? Also, from one girl to another, exercise massively helps relieve those nasty crimson wave cramps and a little workout makes me feel a million times better than if I’d have sat on the sofa shovelling chocolate into my mouth and feeling sorry for myself.
When exercise is a chore or just one more thing to scratch off your to-do list for the day, you’ll end up resenting it. But squeeze smaller workouts in now and then, make them more enjoyable and something to look forward to, and you’ll be surprised at how you learn to love it. What are your thoughts on exercise? Share it with me in the comments below! See you at the next post!