Confession: I’ve really struggled with exercise since having kids. I was a faithful gym-goer in my pre-parent days, logging hours in step classes, on Stairmasters and ellipticals, and even with a trainer in my 20s. But having children just derailed me.
It was always something: Unrelenting nausea in pregnancy, a colicky baby, a needy toddler, a work deadline, a thousand things to do instead of going to yoga, the unreasonable and self-inflicted (but ever present) guilt over taking me-time.
In ten years of being a mother, I’ve found my way back to exercise many times. Sometimes it’s held for a while (read: “How I Got My (Fitness) Groove Back“). Sometimes it’s lasted until a stomach bug, family vacation, or work project thwarted my efforts again.
After an embarrassingly long hiatus, I was recently inspired to make fitness a priority after reading Younger Next Week by Elisa Zied. Elisa, also a dietitian and mom, is on top of her game–and in her 40s, she looks fantastic. She posts about her daily workouts on Facebook and Twitter to inspire others. And she makes a convincing case in her book that women can’t afford to keep putting everything (and everyone) above their own self care, especially as they get older.
Before I climbed back on the exercise wagon this time around, I decided to get real with myself. There were few truths I had to face if I wanted this to stick:
I am not a morning person. Sure, 5:30am is an ideal time to workout. When I’ve done it, I feel like a superhero afterwards. But I hate 5:30am. Since I don’t have a baby to feed or a ready-for-playtime toddler rousing me, I want to sleep at 5:30am. If I set my alarm for an early workout, I dread it. I think angry thoughts about exercise. I find excuses to bail. I finally gave myself permission to admit that it wasn’t for me and found another time (that wasn’t as convenient but that I could still manage). Then I actually started looking forward to working out.
I can’t always go it alone. I’ve had some success with workout DVDs. But eventually, I need actual people who aren’t making the same corny jokes and motivational speeches every. single. time. Having a real, live instructor also pushes me to work harder (the gal on TV won’t notice if I skip that last rep or half-ass my push-ups). I found a class three days a week with a great instructor and a friendly group of women–and they’ll notice if I stop showing up.
I need to schedule it. For real this time. I’ve heard the tip a million times–I’ve even dispensed it myself: “Schedule your workouts like you would any other appointment”. In theory, I’ve always thought that was a terrific idea. But in reality, I let practically anything (a last-minute invitation from a friend, a phone call, a work deadline ) take precedence. Now I schedule around my exercise class, even if that means (gasp!) saying no to things sometimes.
I am not hardcore. I used to think that if I couldn’t exercise at least five days a week–or if I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit and ending up a sweaty mess–why bother? But this all-or-nothing attitude kept me sidelined for too long. Frankly, I don’t want to do Crossfit or train for a triathlon. And that’s okay. My thrice-weekly workouts make me feel stronger, inside and out.
Tell me: Do you struggle with consistency when it comes to exercise? When you fall off the wagon, how do you get back on?