I was 19. Enjoying college life to the best of my abilities. Dorm life was full of friends and so much fun. One of my favorite memories from those days was exercising in the hallway with my group of besties. One of the girls had just gotten the Jane Fonda workout ALBUM and it was hot! We’d all put on our favorite leotards, complete with tights and leg warmers, and we’d line up in the hall on our hands and knees and do all the leg lifts Jane asked us to do. We were amazing! Truly! All this huffing and puffing and aerobic- heart -racing gave me all the confidence I needed to say “yes” when I was asked to join another group of friends in this Texas Tech 10 mile walk-run-jog-a-thon for a cause. I’d get a cute tee shirt I could wear so all the world would know of my great accomplishment. Also, there would be cute boys. The day of the event started with such great excitement and anticipation. THE cute boy I had my eye on would be walk-run-jogging with us. I was sure I’d have his heart by the end of the day. Oh sweet, naive little me! Somewhere in the 8th mile of this 10 mile jaunt through the streets of Lubbock, TX, my digestive system got wind of the fact that I was doing something totally out of character and it was voted by all the other systems in my body to be the one to put all this craziness to a stop! Thankfully, when my stomach decided to stage this revolt against me, we were very near Cute Boy’s house. In a moment of West Texas chivalry ,Cute Boy walked me to his house where I could use his bathroom . I was then picked up by the event EMT’s and took that ride of shame to the finish line in an “ambulance”. That was it for me and Cute Boy. I don’t think I ever saw him again. That was also the end of my relationship with exercise. It was hard and could obviously become humiliating!
Besides a couple of very short gym memberships during times when I forgot how badly I disliked exercise , that was it for me. My hatred for exercise was solid and pretty much immovable. I didn’t like it. Not one little bit. I avoided sweating at all costs. If my heart rate got even a beat above my resting heart rate, I knew it and would immediately rest. So how in the world, at the age of 58 1/2, did I get to place where “rest days” are harder to take than days where a heart pumping workout is my favorite thing to do??
It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. But there are some things I think helped my gradual build up to the place where I’d just as soon do a great workout as I would sit and read a book! Keep reading if you wonder if what I did might help you as well. These are in no particular order …
- I FOUND A FORM OF EXCERCISE I LOVE!! It’s true. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. But I was certain I’d love to be a runner. So I downloaded one of those “please make me a runner because I need to stop sitting on my couch so much” apps. I started with day one on a super cool June day and I was proud that I made it through. But then the next day was a more typical summer day in Georgia and when I attempted day 2, I thought I might die. So I waited a few more days until the next weird summer cold snap and you know what? My body started to remind me why I’m not a runner. I was quickly limping around the track because my wonky toe didn’t like running. My hip kept catching because it didn’t like running. And my motivation waned …because I didn’t like running. As much as I wanted running to be my fun thing, it just wasn’t so I knew I wouldn’t continue with it. I had to find something better for me. The part of me that prefers to stay home because I don’t have to look a certain way or worry about if there’s enough gas in my car or if the traffic will drive me insane, needed something I could just roll out of bed and do. My at home workouts quickly became something I LOVE! Because I love them, they’re super easy to stick with. So find something you can delight in!
2. I STOPPED COMPARING MY JOURNEY TO ANYONE ELSES I didn’t decide to be friends with exercise until I was in my mid-fifties. As I scrolled all the social media and looked around at the people out walking and jogging and hiking, the vast majority of who I saw appeared to be quite a bit younger. And if they were my age, well in my mind they obviously were people who loved exercise all their live long days! I don’t know if they were or not. But they were so good at it. They were all so fit. In the newness of my fitness journey , I could’ve easily fallen into the belief that I needed to be just like them right now. Yesterday even! And it would’ve taken about 10 seconds on an uphill path before I felt like a total failure. Comparison can be a killer of a dream that needs to be a reality!! So to make this all fun and games for me, I started comparing me to me. I kept calendars and trackers for writing down times and reps and weights. I’d compete with my yesterday self and try to up my weights. Competition became fun. And yes, now that I’ve been in this a few years, if I can keep up with one of the trainers, I do shout a big old hallelujah!!!
3. I GAVE MYSELF GRACE TO NOT BE PERFECT!! Lord have mercy!! If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times…”I’m just not good enough at this so I’m done! I quit!” STOP IT!!! Just stop it!! Feeling the need to be perfect at all the things is just downright stressful. Stress takes you far from any place that is remotely fun! If you can’t do all the moves, do what you can! If you can’t keep up with the pace, big deal! Do it at a pace you can keep up with! If they’re all lifting 15’s and you’re still struggling with 8’s, pull out the 5’s and get on with your bad self. If you’re squats are barely little bends in your knees, great!! You’re still moving!!! In this grace to not be perfect, I also gave myself permission to modify as needed. Modifying is not a not sign of imperfection or weakness! Modifying actually shows how STRONG your resolve to get it done in spite of it all is!! Modifying a hard workout brings the fun back to it!! This is because a workout you can actually do is 100% more fun than one you just stand and watch with your hands on your hips wondering what the heck is going on!!!
4. I FOUND FRIENDS WHO LIKE TO WORKOUT. I’m a big old introvert at heart but one who still likes to be with people! I love to hike with my husband and friends. But my favorite way to exercise with people is right from the privacy of my living room! My at home workouts are something I look forward to every day. Whichever program I’m working through, I seem to always “bond” with someone in the cast..my workout buddies! It’s usually the modifier or the non-modifier who seems to be on the struggle bus a little bit!! In this day and age of social media, I also have a group of people who meet in a Facebook group every day to talk about the workout of the day. We all mostly do the same workouts and we try to stay on the same day of whatever program we’re working through. We’ll post pictures of ourselves after we survived all the exercise torture of the day and we encourage and motivate each other along the way. We show grace to each other and don’t expect perfection! It works. Plus the accountability is great! And it’s fun!
5. I PRAYED FOR MY MINDSET ABOUT EXERCISE TO CHANGE SO I COULD SEE IT AS FUN!! I guess I saved the most important, best thing for last here on my little list. If you know me in real life, you know how important my faith and prayer is to me. Being a woman past mid-life who had never ever ever liked exercise, I knew it would be hard to teach this old dog any new tricks! I knew if my mindset on exercise were to ever change, it would take a flat out act of God. So I prayed, “Lord You know me better than I know myself. And I know myself hates exercise. It’s uncomfortable and sweaty and it hurts. But I know I need to do it. I know it’s important now more than ever. I feel like if I don’t get my hiney in gear now and make exercise a part of my life, it’s only gonna get harder to make it happen. I’m not getting any younger. This won’t get any easier. So I need Your help ! Change my heart and my attitude here. I need this to be fun!!! Please and thank You! ” Then the important part….I BELIEVED HE’D DO IT!! I did my part. He did His. And voila! I never thought in my lifetime I’d ever mutter the words “I LOVE EXERCISE”. But there you go. I love it. I crave it. If I skip a day, I miss it. Whodathunk??
What on my list can you do today? What has made exercise fun for you? I’d love to hear your answers. And if you need a group of friends to come along side you and make exercise fun, let me know and I can get you plugged in to my Facebook group (if you’re a Facebook person!)
Until then, Keep Joyfully Clamoring!!