Compartment #1 – What to Wear
Make sure you have shoes with enough cushion left to not hurt you, and wear any clothes that you can move in. Maybe you have some stretchy pants or just loose bottoms and a t-shirt somewhere. After you’ve found the simple things, set this file aside. Do Not Go Shopping.
Compartment #2 – Do the Work
If you struggle with mobility or motivation know that you are not alone. For 97% of people, the best thing you can do for yourself is get outside and go for a walk. If it’s a hot day, go early or late. If it’s drizzling out, put on a hat. Talk yourself into it rather than out of it. Even 10 minutes a day has been shown to improve mood and motivation. While you’re on your walk think up a mantra for yourself: “I don’t have to swim the English Channel today, I just want to swim. I don’t have to lift as much as The Rock today, I just want to lift something. I don’t have to walk to Portland today, I just want to walk.” Whatever works to get you going is the right one. Start with 10 minutes for 3 days in a week. On the next week try 20 minutes for 3 days. If you are already a walker, find some stairs or hills to add in.
Compartment #3 – Goals
The National Academy of Sports Medicine advocates SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. I absolutely agree with that, but the bottom line is to be honest with yourself. The Realistic and Achievable parts don’t get as much attention as they should. It’s unfortunate when momentum is lost, and when a goal is not met it’s often hard to get back on track again. The best approach is to keep that from happening right up front. Believe in and be kind to yourself, it’s likely you can do more than you think with time and consistency. Having said that, now put this file in a safe place and go back to compartment #2.
Back to #2 – Do the Work
When my husband and I started our 18-month isolation, due to COVID 19 and my asthma, we were lucky enough to find a rowing machine. I love that machine. At first it was a great warm-up for a weightlifting session. Then it became a workout we paired with a stair machine, half hour on each with a trade in the middle and called it “Cardio Night.” Eventually it became its own workout of which we both did less and less. Fast forward to getting out of sweatpants and back into society, and I must admit I do not look better. All that free time I had, and I chose not to prioritize exercise. Now I get to take on the challenge of getting back to fitting into the clothes that I will not give up. The hard part is knowing that even if I would have gotten on that rowing machine for only 10 minutes a day, I would have come out of isolation in much better shape than I did.
Fitness cannot be done on a fast track if it is a lifetime of healthy living you want. That’s not to say that bootcamps aren’t a great way to start if you are a person who likes to push yourself. I will reiterate, start moving in whatever way works for you. The goal is to make it a regular part of your life. The more you make yourself do, the more it will feel good to do it. You’ll feel good, and in time you will start to want to do it.
Compartment #4 – Rewards
Here’s where the fun starts! I thank my mom for this one. As a kid at heart herself, she instilled a permanent place in my mind for gold stars on my homework and a pat on the back when I finished something to my liking. If you go from a week when you work out 2 days to one when you do 3, WELL DONE! If you hold onto that three-day streak for three weeks, refer to compartment #1 and GO SHOPPING! There are many ways to measure success in fitness: pounds, BMI, Body Fat Percentage, we still have measuring tapes to wrap around our bodies, and of course there are photos. All of these are real and trackable. However, you will know when you’re doing a good job, with or without the numbers. You’ll start to feel like life is an easier thing to conquer. Your calendar will become less daunting. Each goal big and small that you give yourself that is checked off and rewarded will inspire the next set of goals to be written. Now, back to the work.
Have fun. By now it’s safe to assume that you have done some refining on what you enjoy and what not so much. Maybe you have found a new hobby, and even found others who enjoy it as well. Keep up the good work cause the best is up next.
Compartment #5 – Results
My own personal aha moment came totally out of the blue one day, and I think of it every time I’m struggling to get up and do something. I was in my storage unit putting our Christmas decorations away. The unit was rented and tall, so it had strong shelves and we stacked them high. Because the box I was putting away would not be needed for a while, it got put on the top shelf. I’d been doing this for years, but then one particular year it felt as if I had gotten rid of half the stuff in the box. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to hoist that heavy box up onto that high shelf! It wasn’t about how I might have looked in a bikini or even impressing someone with my feat of strength. There was no one there to impress, apart from myself. I was so excited when I realized what I had done that I almost pulled the box back down for a replay. This was my own little conquest. Now I know that I can do it once, I can do it again, taking on one compartment at a time.