10 Ways to Keep Yourself Fit
These days it’s hard to keep up with the things we’re all “supposed” to be doing. Between rushing kids to soccer practice, buying groceries, keeping the yard tidy, visiting relatives, keeping an active social life all while maintaining reasonable personal hygiene and holding down a nine-to-five job, it’s no wonder staying fit gets squeezed out.
If you want to be able to squeeze yourself into those jeans you don’t wear anymore but can’t bring yourself to throw away, follow these 10 steps.
1. Find something you love. The first step to any successful exercise program is choosing something that doesn’t require you to overcome hatred of a particular activity. If you hate lifting weights, don’t buy a gym membership that’ll rot in your wallet. Sign up for a dance class or join a rec volleyball league. If you love it, you’ll keep doing it. If you hate it, you’ll never start.
2. Find a workout buddy. There’s nothing like good old fashioned peer pressure. If you’ve planned to meet someone at the park for a jog, you’ll have to bail on both your workout and your buddy to avoid the exercise. That’s a lot of bailing. Chances are you’ll get in a good workout and good conversation.
3. Choose a goal that will keep you motivated. Plan a sunny vacation in the middle of winter or to run a 10k in the spring. Long-term goals make daily workouts feel purposeful.
4. TV time can be workout time. If you have time for even 30 minutes in front of the television in the evening, you have time to stay fit. Make a short circuit workout for yourself that uses your own body weight. For example, several rounds of 10 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, 10 chair dips, and 10 squats will keep your muscles toned and fight fat buildup. If you’re not feeling very motivated, just tell yourself you only need to do one round. After one round, try another. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to keep going once you start.
5. Buy a pair of pants you want to wear but require you to get fit or stay fit. The joy of seeing your butt look like it was formed by the hands of Zeus can make squats at 6 a.m. seem reasonable.
6. Drink water. When you drink water throughout the day your body won’t be confused as to whether you need hydration or food. All workouts are easier, better and longer with a bottle of water nearby.
7. Get sleep! If you’re not getting 7 to 8 hours of decent sleep each night, you won’t have the energy for life let alone squeezing in a workout. Plus, you’re much less likely to overeat or eat for entertainment with a full night’s sleep in your back pocket.
8. Build muscle. There’s no way around it, you’ll need to intentionally build some muscle if you’re going to keep fit and stay fit. Muscle enables your body to burn more fat which means your clothes will fit better and the only muffin top in your life will be blueberry bran. Building muscle means weight bearing exercise. You can use your own body weight, buy some resistance bands or weights, or hit the gym and use their equipment.
Women tend to ignore this part of staying fit, preferring to go all cardio, all the time. Men are the opposite. Balancing the two is necessary. Add two 20-minute sets of load bearing exercises each week if you’re a cardio hound. If you already have weight lifting in your life but tend to avoid the treadmill, try to do three 30-minute sessions each week to get the blood pumping.
9. Use exercise as transportation. If the distance between you and your workplace is 5 miles or less, biking is an option for you. There are so many benefits to getting your exercise and transportation in one. You’ll save money on gas or bus passes. You’ll feel alert and ready for the day when you arrive. You’ll be able to detox from work on the ride home, saving your relationships from bearing the brunt of a bad day. And of course, when you arrive home, you’ll already have gotten your exercise for the day and be able to spend more time nagging your children to do their homework.
10. Love yourself. This can’t be overstated. You need to speak kindly to yourself and encourage yourself the way you would a close friend. Harsh internal criticism of your body or abilities will defeat any fitness plan before you start. Try saying statements to yourself like, “I’m going to be fit,” “There’s room for improvement but I’m happy with who I am,” or “Dang, I look good in these jogging pants or jeans!”
-by Joanna Richards