Staying in shape becomes exponentially more difficult with each year that we put between ourselves and our school days. Free time decreases as adult responsibilities increase. To top it off, our metabolism slows right around the time that many people choose to start a family.
I was never skinny growing up. I wasn’t exactly fat either. Curvy and athletic maybe, but not fat. Nine years ago I realized that I had let myself become fat and unhealthy. I had a lot on my plate and little confidence that I could get back to athletic from fat. But I did. Below are some things that have worked for me in my quest to stay in shape.
Get to Know Yourself
I came to the realization that the only time in my life that staying in shape was easy was when I was a child. My youthful metabolism played a huge factor in this, but it wasn’t the only factor. I played sports throughout my childhood and for many of my teen years. When I came home from college I just stopped.
My legs have always been my problem area. One time not long before I moved out of my parents’ house, I ran out of jeans and ran down to grab a pair out of the dryer. I was so upset because I couldn’t get them over my legs. How could I have gained that much weight since the last time I wore them? I practically pulled myself off of my feet trying to get them off. The good news was that I hadn’t gained a ton of weight in a short amount of time. The bad new was that they were my dad’s jeans.
When I had my epiphany nine years ago it was again because of my legs. I was about to need to trade in my pants for a size that would have meant shopping at different stores. Since team sports weren’t an option (I thought), I started running.
Try thinking back to a time in your life when you were happy with the physical shape that you were in. What was different about your life then? Is there anything that you can take from that time and incorporate into your current life.
Make a Commitment
It is easy to tell yourself that you are going to start running, or walking, or whatever. The difficult part is sticking with it for more than a few weeks. I hated running at first. Every day was a battle with myself.
Even though I enjoy it now, I still have to force myself to lace up my sneakers from time to time. What keeps me from quitting is making sure that I am always signed up for a race. I mainly do 5ks and 10ks, but occasionally do something longer. While I have no delusions of placing, not wanting to do horribly in front of all those people keeps me motivated.
If you have a hard time following through with things, try forcing yourself by making a commitment. Sign up for a charity race or walk. Join a local running club. See if your work has a lunchtime walking group. Speaking of which…
Be a Joiner
It turns out that team sports are not only for children and professional athletes. There are many opportunities for adults to take part in organized sports. Check with your township, neighborhood rec center, swim club, or child’s school.
This might be a good option for you if you find exercise boring. I’m definitely a fan of anything that makes exercise fun. I’ve played in a township women’s softball league and a women’s basketball league at my son’s school.
The Compound Effect
If you read my blog every week (Hi Mom), you know that I’m a fan of Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect. The book talks about how small habits can have a big effect over time. This can work for or against you when it comes to staying in shape.
Chances are that you didn’t wake up twenty pounds heavier one morning. The weight crept on one pound at a time over the course of years. You didn’t pig out at every meal, but you ate a little too much a little too often. You watched a little too much television, made one too many trips for ice cream each summer. What happened was the compound effect.
It doesn’t have to happen this way. The compound effect can work for you if you incorporate positive habits into your life. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Pick one unhealthy food or drink that you consume regularly and swap it out for something healthier. Increase your daily step count. You won’t see fast changes, but the compound effect is about the long term not the short term.
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