Guest Post: Exercise Motivation… it exists!
Emily is one of my favorite (former!) co-workers, and I have loved keeping up with her blog. I’m completely inspired by her patient, steady method of weight loss, and I’m thrilled she outlined some of her techniques here. She impresses me daily, and I’m so glad to have her featured as a guest post.
Also, just a side note, Emily was with me when I tried my first spinning class, so she’s seen me at my sweatiest and when I’ve been in the most pain of my life. (This has been written pre-labor, so I have no idea if this is true now!) And, after that, she’s still my friend!!
Hello, Schmate readers! This is Emily and I normally blog from Big Life, Little Blog. I am happy to take a small corner of Kate’s space while she is busy adjusting to being a new mom. Kate and I met as co-workers, and, although I am sort of a traitor and moved to a new department last year, Kate is still kind enough to talk to me. Sweet, isn’t she?
I’ve been blogging my weight loss journey since June 2010. In the last 1.5 years, I’ve found that I’ve become addicted to exercise. I know – it’s shocking even for me to type that. But I thought I’d share some things I gradually found worked for me to make exercise part of my everyday life during a time of the year you may just be falling off that New Year’s resolution you made to exercise more.
Me – May 2008 at 355 lbs.
1. Find something I enjoyed - I was going to make excuses all day long if I didn’t enjoy the exercise I was spending my time doing. So, I started out by simply walking. I tried different things before I found what I enjoyed doing. I quickly realized group step aerobics classes or ellipticals weren’t my thing. Then, I found a water aerobics class and I was hooked. When exercise is fun, it won’t always seem like a chore.
2. I started out slow - This goes for both length and intensity. At first, I would tell myself, “Just go to gym and do 20 minutes, if you don’t want to do more after that you can leave.” I also started by walking on the treadmill less than 3.0 mph. I never had a structured way of increasing amount or intensity, but I am a big fan of competing with myself. So I would see how long I could do before I had to give in to being tired. Slowly I built up from 20, 25, 30 minutes to 45 or 60 minutes at a time; same with intensity. You have to remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built overnight, so your endurance won’t be either.
3. I schedule it - I am the biggest procrastinator and excuse-maker in the world. But by making exercise part of my “must do” routine each day, I am able to overcome the excuses. I also don’t schedule it for times I know I am likely to give into excuses. So for me, I know I am much less likely to get out of bed an hour early in the morning vs. spending an hour after work exercising. Therefore, I set aside at least 3 nights a week to go to the gym after work. I try to keep each week’s schedule relatively the same, but I also look at what after-work commitments I have each week and adjust as needed. I try not to stray from the schedule I set weekly and treat my gym routine just like other scheduled responsibilities, such as showing up for work.
4. I change it up – When I get bored with a particular activity, I look for new ways to make it more interesting or look for something new to add to my gym routine to keep it fresh. After walking 2 half marathons, I knew I didn’t want to walk another 13.1 miles. So I completed a “learn to run 5K” program. Now running is fun and exciting for me and I am planning on running my next half marathon in April. About a year ago, I started incorporating yoga into my weekly gym schedule. I now go to a gentle class every Monday, and I enjoy it so much that I never want to miss it. It makes getting to the gym on Monday easy and sets my week off to a great start. And this summer, I plan to add in more biking and swimming in order to train for a sprint triathlon. I get bored easily, so as you see I am always trying new things.
5. I take time to rest- When all else fails, and I am feeling the drain on the body or mind, I cut back exercise for a week. It allows for my body to repair itself and gives me a chance to actually miss the way exercise makes me feel. Now, if I miss a day or two of exercise I immediately feel it and get cranky. Exercise for me is beneficial both physically and mentally. I also know that my weekly max of workout days is 5 days or about 5-6 hours a week, so I make sure I schedule two “rest days” every week.
Me – December 2011 at 240 lbs
I like to stress I didn’t become a habitual exerciser overnight. It has taken me well into 5 years of trial and error along with starting and stopping routines to get to this point. When it comes down to it, you have to do what works for you. If what works for you is 20 minute walks every day at lunchtime – that’s great! Remember, 20 minutes of exercise a day (or every other day) is better than no exercise. So do what works for you, and if what you’re doing isn’t working for you – try something new. It’s all about you, after all!