A semi-structured routine of exercise and fitness has always been important to me. When my initial ideas for this post began to surface I saw how my appreciation for fitness has evolved during three stages of my life; childhood, young adult and working parent. Taking into account the good, bad, stressful and amazing aspects of my days as a wife, mother and working woman I am discovering my ability to handle each new emotion and situation mirrors my degree of commitment to personal strength through exercise. Something as simple as scheduling a small block of time to focus on myself before a busy day puts me in a better position to cope with the variety of decisions, actions and lessons I know are coming.
Growing up in a large family during the 1970’s daily physical activity was something I took for granted. My brothers and sister and I spent hours each day exploring outside, riding bikes, climbing trees, digging in the dirt and playing until dark. If the weather was too cold and wet for neighborhood running we always had dance lessons and soccer practice. Of course I spent plenty of time with temper tantrums and slamming doors but I believe I would have been much worse without my daily outlet of physical activity, outdoor time and freedom. Thanks Mom!
With college came the opportunity to set a new workout schedule, however this second stage also presented new challenges. Not only did I have to save my own money to pay for activities I also had to make myself go. These are two of the many lessons successful students and young adults must master; how to budget and how to start and finish a task. Buying your own groceries usually means establishing a budget. Completing assignments on time and studying for finals are all part of the practice of motivation. It took some hard learning but after six years of starting and stopping both educational classes and aerobics my college years came to an end and it was time to change again.
Once I settled into in a full-time job and new apartment I had to face my third and most difficult fitness challenge – boredom. I thought personal motivation and saving money for a gym membership would be the hardest part of adult fitness but now I know my need for variety is an even bigger hurdle. As a child exercise was everywhere. A kid can turn the smallest thing into a physical activity. In college if I couldn’t afford fitness classes the chances were good I was walking instead of driving and again exercise filled my days. Now, as a working adult I found my options more limited. With a constantly changing schedule I couldn’t count on having classes available. Cardio machines were boring and by the time I drove to the gym and back it was time for bed. It took a few years of little to no exercise to finally admit this really wasn’t working.
In 2012 I began a new program that, so far, is a perfect fit for me. I canceled my underused gym membership and invested in a mix of yoga and cardio CD’s. Yes, I have to change them every few months to keep things fresh but if my only scheduling challenge is getting up at 5am in order to workout before driving my son to school and beginning my day job, I can fit it into the day. Seven months ago I started the Insanity series from Beachbody. I love their 60 day cardio program and have completed it twice. Now I am in the third month of P90X and looking forward to combining the two into an Insanity/P90X hybrid in February. If I find my motivation slipping my 11-year-old son joins me as a “coach” during his breakfast. He loves shouting encouragement and joining in to try a new technique. We have a great time together and if I start to feel bored before the end of the session he lets me talk to him about finding his own motivations for success and fitness interests. I like to think the process helps him focus in school and Tae Kwan Do and I know it helps me prioritize in my daily life.
What are your fitness challenges? Have you found the perfect match or are you in search of the next great program? I want to return to this topic every few weeks and am looking forward to hearing what works for you!