Monday, February 15, 2010
FAL Fitness Challenge
Many of you have expressed to me that you are having trouble motivating to exercise. You are not alone. It seems everyone these days is busy and overcommitted and, sadly, the first thing to get eliminated from our endless to-do list seems to be exercise. We’ve come to view exercise and “me” time as something that is negotiable.
Somehow we’ve also forgotten this universal truth: our bodies want to move. As humans, we were designed to move. As such, we start to feel better when we give our bodies what they crave, want and need – exercise!
We are going to focus on moving our bodies because it makes us feel better and produces natural endorphins which make us happier, not because we think it will make us skinnier. When we focus on exercise as a means only to weight-loss we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Exercise then becomes just one more thing we “have” to do which definitely sucks the joy out of it. And when we don’t find time to fit it in we feel badly about ourselves and start calling ourselves ugly names like 'fat' and 'lazy.'
It’s time to break that vicious cycle.
Until I read this Time Magazine article I was very much a proponent of exercise for weight-loss. I used to slug it out in the gym for countless hours each week in the name of fitness and weight-loss/maintenance. I also used to “reward” myself with various treats for all my hard work that, no doubt, negated any calorie burning exercises I had just completed. I also felt a certain amount of time in the gym bought me equal, if not more, time to be a couch potato. What I’m learning is that, for weight-loss and general health, just being active and moving more throughout the day is far more important than one 30-60 minute bout of exercise. The Time article supports that theory.
Please keep in mind that I’m not suggesting exercise is not important. Far from it. We need to exercise to keep our hearts healthy, bones strong and minds clear. Consistent, more intense exercise is necessary for actually increasing your fitness level or training for an event. However, for general health and weight-loss we just need to be more active each day. This is good news for most of us. It means we can start to squeeze in smaller bursts of activity throughout our day that will have a cumulative positive effect. It means if we don’t make it to the gym or go for a run on a particular day that we can still feel good about taking the dog for a slightly longer walk, parking farther away from the store or doing sit-ups and push-ups while watching our favorite TV show.
For those of you, like my dear friend Kelly, who somehow manage to attend pre-dawn boot camp most days and do pilates several times a week while simultaneously juggling a full-time job, family and unfathomable LA traffic, I applaud you. Please keep doing what you are doing because you help motive the rest of us.
For those of you, like me, who haven’t seen the inside of the gym in more weeks than you can count and have resorted to having your babies shovel the back deck,
and for everyone in between, I offer you the Full At Last Fitness Challenge.
The challenge is simple: for 30 days we will exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And by exercise I mean anything you enjoy doing that gets you off the couch and elevates your heart rate. You can walk, dance, jump rope, hit the gym, practice yoga, play hide-and-seek, bike, skip, hop … whatever gets you moving. Enlist your family, partner, friend, FAL blog buddies, and/or children to help you. Everyone can benefit from a little extra movement.
And, you don’t necessarily have to exercise for 30 consecutive minutes. If you are really de-conditioned or particularly pressed for time, split your 30 minutes of exercise up into three 10-minute segments or two 15-minute workouts. Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and do some jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups. Squeeze in a 10 or 15 minute power walk during your lunch break or after dinner. Pop in a fitness DVD instead of watching TV. Do five minutes of squats or lunges in your kitchen while you’re waiting for the water to boil. It all adds up and it all counts.
I’ve read that it takes 21 days to change a habit which is why I’m starting with a 30-day fitness challenge. The hope is that after 30 days we will all be in the habit of doing more and moving more, so our bodies will actually crave this movement, making it easier to continue. I thought about a 60 or 90 day challenge but sometimes a short-term goal is the best way to build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment. We can certainly create new, loftier fitness goals moving forward but I thought this was a good place to start.
So let's get moving! Who’s with me because this tired twin mommy needs some help and some motivation too!?!