Think of Nike….

I just got back from my local gym.  I am very lucky.  One of the churches near my home recently built what they call a “life center.”  It’s a gym, complete with indoor track, weight room, fitness classrooms, and a huge gymnasium.  They have marvelous classes: yoga, toning, aerobics, cycling, etc.  Anyone in the community can join, for a very low yearly fee.  I am so very, very thankful it is close to my house and cheap, too!

When Endeavor, Justone, and Superkid went off to school this year, I made some goals.  One of them was to spend some time taking care of me, something I hadn’t been doing a very good job of.  Sometimes we moms do a better job of taking care of everyone else than we do ourselves.  We justify it by saying we’re being unselfish.  But if we neglect ourselves long enough, someone is going to have to take care of us….which kind of cancels out the prior excuse of selflessness.  So that argument just doesn’t cut it.

Back to my goal, part of accomplishing that was my plan to spend the majority of the time that Superkid was in half-day kindergarten increasing my level of fitness.  But can I be real with you?  It is sooooo very hard for me to get motivated and out the door.  We have some exercise equipment at home, but pushing myself has never been something at which I excel.  I get a much better workout when there is someone telling me what to do.  Still, it can be soooo hard to get myself out of the house and into the gym every day.  You would think that the high that I get from a good workout would be enough incentive, but for some reason it isn’t.

So, for my own benefit, I’d like to share a couple of things I’ve found to be helpful when it comes to finding the motivation to exercise.  If you read a lot of magazines, you’ve probably heard some or all of these before. These are my personal faves, the things that really work for me.

1. Find someone to exercise with.  This only works if you can partner up with a person who is slightly more motivated than you are, or at least makes good on their commitments.  If you know they are going to be waiting for you at the gym or on your front porch, you are much more likely to get yourself ready and show up for a scheduled work out.  At this point I want to give a shout-out to Heidi, THE BEST Workout Buddy EVER!  (It really helps when your workout buddy happens to be getting her license to be a personal trainer, too.)  Sorry, Heidi, for some reason this was the only picture I could find of you running!

If your workout buddy moves far away, like mine did (I miss you, Heidi!), or you can’t find anyone willing to join you, don’t let that stop you.  Your iPod or MP3 can be your fitness friend!  Download some of your favorite tunes and don’t let yourself listen to them unless you are working out
2. Find something you like to do for exercise.  I don’t think I need to explain this.  If you like it, you’ll do it.  The only thing I might add that it helps if you are willing to try things you’ve never done before.  A good instructor will be happy to do a little extra to help you get through your first classes.  There are so many DVDs out there with fun, new workouts.  And you can find instructions online and in the library for new routines, too.  Be creative!  There are a lot of non-gym type things you can do like climbing,
nordic walking,
and ballroom dancing.
Speaking of which, I love to dance.  All kinds of dancing, but especially Broadway style.  I’m just not a dancer, so I don’t go around volunteering to perform.  It is not something that comes easily to me, but I still love it, and it is such good exercise.  I think ABC needs to do a show called Normal People Dancing with the Stars.  They could take normal people (like me!  pick me!) and partner them with a Celebrity DWTS’s alum and professional coach.  And do the show the way they usually do it otherwise.  Since it was my idea, they can put me on the first season.  I won’t wear anything skimpy, but I’m very willing to be spray tanned and tossed into the air.  I haven’t figured out who my celebrity partner will be, though.  Any suggestions?  (Now, if next year ABC does this, look for my name in the credits.  If it is not there, you know they read my blog and stole the idea from me.  Send them a letter of protest!) 

Ahem.  Let’s move on.

3. Get some something cute to wear when you are exercising.  There is nothing fun about getting dressed in ratty sweats and a stained t-shirt to go workout.  Especially if you have to look in a mirror at some point during your workout.  I’ve learned that a frumpy appearance breeds negative self-talk in any situation, and negative self-talk makes life difficult, if not impossible.  So do yourself a favor and find some comfortable clothing that feels and looks good.  Then, when you are in toning class and the instructor tells you to look in the mirror, you can…without flinching.  Instead you can say, “Wow!  This celery green top I’m wearing really makes my eyes pop!”  Your cute workout clothing doesn’t (and probably shouldn’t) have to be spandex.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  Target has a fantastic selection of fitness wear, which goes on sale at least four times a year.  There is always a clearance rack.  DON’T say to yourself, “I’ll just use my ratty sweats for now, and wait to spend money on fitness clothes once I’ve lost some weight.”  Previous experience has shown me that doesn’t work.  Buy some, wear them until you shrink and then send them off to your local Goodwill with your blessing.

4. Invest in a good sports bra and footwear.  This will be hard for you if you have yet to discover the power of the Right Shoe.  But they can make all the difference.  It is much, much easier to maintain exercise habits if you are experiencing pain during your workout.  Wearing an unsupportive or ill-fitting bra and bad shoes can be painful–either during the workout, or after.  Physical therapists say that most stress-related injuries they treat could have been prevented with proper footwear.

Let me be frank: you won’t find the right shoes at Wal-Mart.  Go to a specialty shoe store and have them watch you walk/run and fit you with the right shoe.  Different shoes are designed for different needs, and they can recommend the best one for you.  Does this sound expensive?  It can be, but the money you’ll save in the long run (think beyond injury prevention, we’re talking the big stuff: diabetes, cancer, and heart disease prevention!) is totally worth it.  You can go to a store like the Running Company and have them make recommendations for you, then go look for the same pairs of shoes online or at other stores.  Once you have a pair of shoes that works for you, clip coupons and watch for sales, so you can buy them at discounted prices.  Seriously, the right shoes make a huge difference!
5. Provide yourself with a fun non-food reward for a good workout.  And if you are really serious about maintaining regular exercise habits, then don’t reward yourself with shoe shopping every time.  Currently, my reward for a good workout is my yoga class.

I heart yoga, seriously.  Yoga is one of the only things that truly helps me relax.  I know all those stretches look really bizarre, but a good yoga instructor will help you learn things at your own speed.  Learning to focus on your breathing really, really, really can help you relax.  It is incredibly therapeutic if you have any stress in your life.  So I plan my most intensive cardio workouts for the days I have yoga class.  I work hard before, and look forward to yoga the whole time.
All right, folks, that about covers today’s topic. 
Think of Nike…..and just do it.  You’ll thank yourself.

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