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Thursday, December 8, 2011

being fit and getting started

Being fit is a decision.  It takes hard work.  Effort.  Sometimes the effort comes easily, other times it feels impossible.  It is especially hard to get STARTED with a new routine, and then inevitably you will experience setbacks along the way.  Days and sometimes weeks or even months will go by when you have major trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym or to go outside and move your body.

But Life is a journey and it is so much more enjoyable when you are taking care of yourself and when you make your health a priority.  Nurturing your physical body lifts your spirits, it makes life more colorful.

I have been fit on and off throughout my 35+ years of life.  As a very young child I was severely asthmatic and exercise just wasn't something I could regularly participate in until I was in about the 4th grade.  At that point I remember trying lots of sports and by the 6th grade I was head over heels in love with soccer.  I dedicated myself to that sport, to being a part of a team, for many years until college.  Being fit then was about doing my best for my team, for something bigger than me.

My college years were the first time that exercise became a chore for me.  I was no longer on a team and I was in a very dark and depressed place internally.  I was not kind to myself (at all) and tried over and over again to "start fresh" and commit to an exercise routine, but I failed every. single. time.

By the time I graduated college and was on my own, I was awakened somehow to the fact that I needed to take control of my health and make serious lifestyle changes.  I wanted to feel HAPPY.  When I looked back at the happiest times in my life, they always were around a time when I was exercising regularly.  Everything else with my health seemed to fall into place - healthier eating habits, better sleep habits, better decisions and mental clarity, more emotional balance -- when I was exercising.

So I decided to take my happiness into my own hands and I found RUNNING.  Running changed my life.  It changed how I see myself and how I live.  I ran my first marathon 11 years ago and just started training this week for what will be my 9th marathon this spring.  Over the past 11 years I got married, worked full time, had a baby, worked full time, had another baby, worked full time, stopped "working" to become a stay at home mom, started a business, had another baby ... and during this time my running has ebbed and flowed.  When I look at the last 11 years of my life, they have been wonderfully full of blessings.  When I look at the person I am, I know that I am the happiest and best version of myself when I am running.

Making exercise a priority in my life is a decision.  It is me asserting my own happiness.  It is my way of living my best life.

Recently I was bestowed the honor of becoming a FitFluential Ambassador.  I am so very excited to be a part of this amazing group of people who believe in the power of fitness and who are real about their journey towards making it a priority in life.  I see it as my duty as a FitFluential Ambassador to show you every side of my journey.  In my eyes being fit is not about being thin or fitting into a certain pants size - it is about being healthy, being strong, and taking care of yourself because YOU MATTER.

As an ambassador we have been asked to share with our readers 7 tips for getting started in your fitness routine.  I have given this a lot of thought over the last several days and this is what I have come up with.  If you are just now thinking about starting fresh with your exercise, or if you have been feeling stale in your current routine, here are some thoughts that I hope will help rejuvenate you:

1. Find something you enjoy ~ For me, this has obviously been running and Pilates.  But I also love yoga and spinning and strength training.  I steer clear of group fitness classes like Zumba and step aerobics though.  When I was in college I tried classes like this and hated them.  I am positive this is part of why I was never successful at sticking with a fitness routine during my college years.  Try different things out and you will find something you enjoy.  You are much more likely to stick with something if you find it to be FUN!

2. Mix it up ~ I love to run and it is hands down my exercise of choice.  BUT - truth be told as important as cardiovascular exercise is, we must supplement it with strengthening and stretching.  Pilates is my favorite way to get this done because it combines both flexibility and core strength and all you really need to do it is your own body.  It doesn't take a lot of time - you can do just a few exercises a day and it will make a difference - but you have to make the time for it.

3. Dress the part ~
Are you going to the gym in sweat pants from 1995?  Go buy some new ones.  Buy something that you feel good in!  You don't have to spend a lot of money, but buy some clothes that fit you and that will feel good to sweat in. Good workout clothes make a big difference.  If you look good, you will feel good and strong.  Just as important as what is on your body is what is on your feet (if you are running, walking or doing anything that requires shoes).  Make sure you are in the right shoes - go to a specialty running store and talk with them about what is the right shoe for you.

4. Set a goal that has nothing to do with your weight or your pants size ~ Yes, of course you may be starting your fitness routine because you want to lose weight or get back in those jeans you felt so good in.  And that is awesome and I get that and I have been there many times.  But I truly believe that you will be more successful in getting there if you set another goal for yourself with your fitness.  One that has nothing to do with the scale or what size you are.  If you find that you love running, pick a race and train for it.  Make it your mission to get to that start line healthy and then cross that finish line with a smile on your face.

5. Know you will have setbacks ~ They will happen and they are absolutely 100% without a sliver of a doubt, inevitable.  You will get sick.  Your kids will get sick.  The wind will blow in a different direction.  Whatever the reason, setbacks will happen and you will have to adapt and adjust your routine.  I am thrown off by so many things, every single day.  I have come to accept that this is just how life is and I cannot let it depress me or cause me to give up.  When change happens and it forces you to switch things up, move past it.  Sometimes these changes bring with them opportunities you never would have even dreamed about.  Accept that setbacks are part of the journey, learn from them and move forward.

6. Make the time for it ~ It isn't just about "taking" the time.  I look at my calendar every week and have to MAKE the time for my running and exercise routine.  If I do not MAKE the time, it will not happen.  There are always 8,878,897,881 other things that you could be doing.  And many of them are very important.  But you have to make YOU a priority also.  So you have to carve out the time for yourself, otherwise you will put yourself at the bottom of the list.  And I am here to tell you that that is not ok.  YOU MATTER!

7. Believe in Yourself, and get the support of others who believe in you ~ You can do anything when you believe you can.  I know it is scary to embark on something new, but you can do this!  When I was getting back into running after having baby Gus there were so many obstacles in my way. Negative thinking and self doubt crept in regularly especially in the beginning.  I just kept reminding myself that I believed in me and that my family and friends believed in me.  Tell your loved ones what you are doing and they will support you.  They love you and want you to be happy.  Sometimes when you are in the midst of a hard workout you will think of them and this will remind you to keep going.

One more thing ~ always remember that you will likely not regret making the time for yourself.  I think about this a lot when I'm staring at a workout I don't really feel like doing.  I know that I will feel worse if I don't make myself do it.  Once I get going it is so much easier than I thought it would be and I always feel better once I am moving.  As my sister Jodi says, sometimes the hardest part about getting your exercise done is putting your shoes on!

4 comments:

This is such a great post! I especially like #6. I think we tend not to take enough time for ourselves. We should celebrate the fact that we're able to run, no matter how fast or slow, and realize that it's not just about the running but about making ourselves the priority for 30 minutes, an hour, etc. on most days. Thanks for putting things into perspective!

Even though I was dreading this 3 week break from running, it has actually been really good because it's forced me to try different things. Things that I haven't done in years (or ever) such as Pool Run; Swim; Yoga; Pilates; and Spin classes. I was pretty consistent in my x-training - riding the bike and weights but these new activities are going to take it to a new level and I think will really help my running. I am not gonna lie, I am chomping at the bit, wanting to run but now I have a bunch of other things that I know I love to do as well.

This is a great post! Doing this for yourself and making time for yourself is something I feel most women struggle with as they try to fulfill all their responsibilities in life. We must first be accountable to ourselves!

Loved this post Jessica! Especially #5. I realized that I really started losing weight when I focused on becoming a runner and an athlete instead of focusing on what I couldn't have. FitFluential chose an excellent ambassador!!

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