If I had a nickel for every time I’ve Googled a fad diet, weight-loss trend or new toning exercise, I’d have enough nickels to fill a bag to do kettle bell squats.
Like many women, I’ve struggled with my body image and constantly compared myself to every woman I see on Instagram with a “perfect” belly and thin thighs. When I hit my late 20s, my metabolism slowed down and parts of me began looking much different. It happened faster than I was ready for, and it was discouraging when I couldn’t stick to a fitness plan. However, I’ve learned over the past year what fitness truly means and that physical health starts with a healthy mindset.
In this blog, I won’t be telling you what to do with your body, but how to look at it in a way that helped me appreciate all the things it can do. I’m no expert by any means and what has worked for me won’t work for everyone, but if you’re looking for advice from a regular person who's not in the fitness community, I hope these tips help.
Acceptance And Gratitude
Before I got serious about my personal fitness, I had to accept my body what for what it is.
No matter what your body looks like now, what it used to look like or what it will look like, it is your body and the only one you will ever have. That body has done amazing things for you and will continue to do amazing things for you.
Give back to it! Don’t just eat healthy and keep it moving. Thank your body for all that it’s done for you.
Find Your Reason
It may sound cliché, but exercise is about so much more than what you see in the mirror. Wanting to look good on the beach was never the reason that made me stick to a fitness routine, no matter how many times I started. My reason came one year ago when I climbed Mount Katahdin in northern Maine with a group of friends and I struggled harder than I anticipated. I was embarrassed by how much I slowed my friends down. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be stronger and reach all future summits more easily, and maybe without as many complaints. Maybe you want to keep up with your kids or take longer walks with your dog or run that 10k race you’ve watched from the sidelines for years. You have to want to make a change in your lifestyle, not just your dress size.
Find What Works For You
In order to stick to a workout routine, you need to make fitness easily accessible. Find what works best for you. In my case, I needed the ability to work out to be readily available at will. I stopped going to a gym and started an at-home workout routine with an app that allowed me to get guided coaching wherever I was. I couldn’t excuse myself from a workout just because I didn’t want to drive to the gym. Maybe you need an environment where you can concentrate on just exercising with no other distractions, and a gym would work best. Or maybe you want to be outside in the fresh air when you exercise. Look for a nearby running track, or find a local green space with lots of room to move around.
You Are Not The Athlete You May Have Once Been
I ran track and swam competitively in high school, and so I was always chasing the physical ability of my teenage body whenever I would try to start working out consistently. I would get frustrated that my stamina wasn’t what it used to be. This discouraged me from continuing. Focus on your current physical ability and create a routine that works for you right now. If you pull a muscle in your back trying to lift weights that are too heavy for you, or if you hurt your knees by running with poor form for too long, you’ll be more likely to quit. Start small and go slow. A healthier lifestyle is not a race, it’s a marathon. Real change takes time.
Commitment And Consistency
Going from not working out at all to working out an hour a day six times a week is just not sustainable. It takes time to form good habits. Start with goals you know you’ll be able to stick to and build on that. Maybe for you, that goal is 15 minutes on the stationary bike two times a week. If you start there and commit to it long enough, then maybe you can think about adding in a third day a week or lengthening the time you spend on that bike ride or even incorporate another 15 minutes of light weights. Set the right foundation instead of setting yourself up to fail.
You will miss some days, maybe even some weeks. That does not mean you are starting over or should give up. When life gets in the way of your fitness goals for a day or so, don’t punish yourself. Some days you just need a break. Forgive yourself and keep going when you can.