All too often, fitness is looked at as a chore. Another task to check off on our ever-growing to-do list. Something we dread. Something we avoid. Something we feel pressure to do and to perfect. However, true fitness is not a burden but a way of life. True fitness has nothing to do with six-pack abs or the ability to run a marathon.
It’s having the endurance to keep going when all we want to do is stop.
It’s having the strength to get through difficult times.
It’s having the discipline to push ourselves further and harder than we ever thought possible.
[Fitness] appears while you’re living it.
To live fitness we have to stop thinking about it as something negative. Fitness is something we get to do. Something that makes us better people. Something that allows us to enjoy our life more fully. Sure, others may benefit from it — our partners, our children, our pets — but at the end of the day, fitness is something that we own. It’s a gift we give ourselves.
While living fitness is a wonderful, admirable goal, how do you make it a priority in an already swamped schedule? Here are some suggestions for ways to thread fitness into your busy routine:
Figure out what you love to do.
This is the first — and potentially the most important — step in making fitness a part of our lives. It’s what’s going to get us out of bed at 5:30 a.m. or to the gym at 9 p.m. So for a second, throw away all preconceived notions of what you should be doing for exercise and think back to your childhood. How did you spend recess? Did you challenge other kids to races in the soccer field? Hang upside down on the jungle gym? Make up dance routines in the corner? Figure out what made you happy and find something to reignite that feeling of play. Sign up for a race. Take a trapeze class. Do Zumba. Experiment and don’t be embarrassed. You won’t be be the best (or maybe even good) on your first try but remember — everyone had a first day. Trust yourself and go for it. Being there and just trying is enough.
Schedule the time.
After figuring out what you love, make the time to enjoy it. Block it off on your calendar. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll actually do it. After all, you wouldn’t break a dentist appointment or a business meeting. Fitness is just as important. How much time? That’s constantly up for debate but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes, 5 days per week to stay healthy.
Acknowledge it will be hard.
If fitness were easy, we’d all be doing it and the point of this article would be moot. It’s hard work, and, like with any major change in your life, there’s an adjustment period. You may have to wake up half an hour earlier or go to bed half an hour later. You may need to cut your lunch breaks short. You’ll probably be sore and tired for the first few weeks. Recognize this and don’t get discouraged. It will get better and easier with time.
Give yourself a break.
You’ve found something you love, you’ve scheduled the time, you know it won’t be easy but you just really, really don’t feel like working out today. That’s OK. You’re not perfect — you’re human. If you can’t convince yourself to get out of bed or drive to the gym, your body could be telling you to slow down. So listen. For today. And either reschedule or just skip it. If you allow yourself leeway, you’re less likely to burn out and hate working out. Just don’t make it a habit and get back out there tomorrow.
Fit fitness into your every day.
One of the hardest parts about making fitness a priority is feeling you have to give up something else: time with your friends and family, time watching your favorite show or reading, time networking. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Hike a mountain or go to a Zumba class with friends before brunch. Join a local running group to meet new people. Watch your favorite show on the stationary bike. Do crunches and pushups during commercial breaks. Take a look at your current schedule and see how you can integrate fitness into your day-to-day.
Throw out the scale.
When we weigh ourselves, we judge our fitness by a number. We no longer look at fitness as a lifestyle but a means to an end. Fitness itself is no longer a priority — losing 5 or 10 pounds is. But true fitness has nothing to do with weight. A number should never dictate how we feel but being able to hold a plank for a minute (and then two and then three) and being able to climb several flights of stairs without being out of breath — those are worthy accomplishments. Embrace those. Live those.
How do you live fitness?