[Monthly Columnist – Jaimie Bowman. I met Jaimie at the ReThink Conference. We were both volunteers who were eagle to serve and learn from others. We’ve since kept in touch and I’ve referred her to my former literary agent. I appreciate her feedback on how to stay healthy when it’s not something that comes easy for you. Enjoy!!]
Eating healthy AND exercising don’t seem to co-exist well in my life.
If I’m doing good in one area, I am struggling in the other. If I eat really healthy one day, it’s like my mind says to my body, “Yay! Good for you! As your reward, you don’t have to work out today!”
And if I exercise one day, my body says to my mind, “Hooray! You exercised! Since you did so well today, you should go treat yourself to a chocolate cupcake!”
I have always avoided exercise at all costs.
As I was not a very athletic girl, I took golf in college just to get out of physical education class. As an adult, I tried classes, joined a gym, tried walking around my neighborhood–I even tried the Couch-to-5k plan to become a runner, since all my cool friends were runners.
Every time I would get bored easily and give up after a few months.
However, I have always known how important exercise is and that I needed to find a way to make it work for me. I knew I needed to go on a hunt to find some type of exercise that I would enjoy and look forward to doing.
If I look back at my life, the exercises that I loved the most all involved some sort of dancing or choreography, and that is why I’m thankful that last year I discovered Zumba.
For me, it works.
My kids are very excited to watch me do Zumba, since I use a Wii video game and they can dance along. My 7-year old is very concerned that I do it every day. As I’m huffing and puffing in front of the digital Zumba instructor, his eyes are monitoring my every move, making sure I do it right.
“Mom, you are so good at this!” He exclaimed. The other night he called to me from his bed, “Mom! You didn’t do Zumba today! If I were you, I would do it right now!”
Nothing like a 7 year old Biggest-Loser fan living in your own house.
It is great having 2 cheerleaders who can encourage me, yet it took me a long time to find something that worked for me. Being exercise-avoidant, I had to try many different things before I found the right fit.
Here are 5 tips for healthy living:
1) It has to be fun.
Don’t make a long-term commitment to some exercise that you hate. You have to find some measure of fun or satisfaction in it, in order to continue it in the long run. Maybe you haven’t discovered a fun exercise yet. See the list at the end of the article for some ideas.
2) Work out with others or work out alone.
Discover which one you enjoy more. Some people are motivated most when they work out with a friend. For myself, I am more motivated by having alone time and exercise by myself. I also don’t feel self-conscious of other eyes at the gym watching me from behind.
3) Get accountable.
It is easier to be accountable with exercise when you are working out with other people that you meet up with. If you work out alone, make sure that you still have someone in your life that can hold you accountable and ask if you have exercised, and motivate you to get back on track if you quit. It can be as easy as sending each other a text saying that you completed your exercise for the day. If you are competitive, you can even have a competition with a friend for the person who works out the most amount of times in a month. Make it fun, and don’t stop holding each other accountable.
4) Have a reward system.
What kind of reward would motivate you the most: money, time, shopping, a new book? (Try to not make your reward centered around food) I have a friend who gives herself $1 every time she works out. At the end of each month, she can either spend that money on something she likes, or save it for something bigger. If you don’t have money to put aside, maybe reward yourself with something you love to do that you rarely have time for, or time with a friend.
5) Get back up.
If you lose motivation, it’s time to find something new. If you are at the gym, try out a different machine or a new class. If you are a walker or jogger, find a new route (you could even make a type of scavenger-hunt out of it, looking for particular items along your way). If you like to workout alone, rent a new workout video or Wii game to see if you like it. There are endless options and you are bound to find one that works for you.
Here are some ideas of fun ideas to try. Some might best be accomplished in a class setting where you sign up for a certain time each week. Others you can do right in your living room:
Video games (active)
YouTube Exercise Videos (yoga, barre, pilates, zumba)
QUESTION: What exercise have you found works for you?
Jaimie Bowman is a minister, speaker and writer who lives in Southern California. She loves speaking truth into women’s lives and helping them find their unique purpose. Together with her husband and two sons (ages 5 and 7), you can often find them stuck in traffic on the 405, trying to find new places to explore. Jaimie blogs regularly at The Wonder Years and you can find out more about her at JaimieBowman.com.