Exercise is one of the top things that moms say they can’t find the time or motivation to do, even though they know working out is one of the best ways to improve their health, lose a few pounds, have more energy, clear their head, maintain their figure, prevent disease, tone muscle, and just feel better.
I am a working mom of two kids who has found a way to make sure exercise is part of my regular routine nearly every day even though I don’t like going to the gym and don’t really know much about using weights or machines. For me, it’s all about what and when — the kind of work out and the time when I do it.
When you find a type of exercise you truly enjoy, and you find a way to create a deadline for that enjoyment, you have developed two critical keys to motivation.
Do you have a favorite way to exercise? When is the best time for you to do it?
I know moms who have been playing in a volleyball league with their husband for years, who go for a run regularly even when on a business trip, who go out dancing every weekend, who take walks every day, who attend yoga or Pilates classes several times a week, and even work part-time as trainers to be sure to get to the gym.
My regular workout is something that I don’t even think of as exercise because it’s something that’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember: bike riding. The main reason that I exercise on a regular basis is because I love to bike ride. Everyone in my family knows how important my daily bike ride is to me. It serves a lot of purposes in my life.
First of all, it helps keep me healthy. I’m getting exercise; I’m getting the blood flowing. Whenever I ride I do try to ride for at least a half hour to usually an hour. I also listen to audiobooks while I ride, so I take care of two things while I’m riding. An audio book is something that’s ongoing, and I want to hear the next chapter. I listen to a lot of memoirs and success books and other motivational titles that help me with something I’m working on in my life. I look forward to my bike ride because after I’m done, even though I may be a little tired, I’m inspired to keep going in my day because of what I just listened to.
It’s definitely a good mental health break. It’s a chance to just have my own time when I can listen to a book that I want, when I can ride through nature, be outside, feel the sunshine, or even have a laugh if I get caught in the rain.
For years I’ve been saying I’m going to start working out with weights or go to yoga or go to the gym, and I never get to those things because I’m not really looking forward to them. I’m thinking of them as something I should do and something that’s good for me. But with my bike ride I don’t think about it like that. I think of it as something I’m looking forward to, and I’m bummed on a day I don’t get out on my bike.
During the winter I try to ride my stationary bike, but I don’t do it as often. It’s not the same to me. There’s one very big reason why, and that’s because there’s no deadline.
One of the main reasons I get on my bike and ride every day is because I need to do it before it gets dark. I do not want to be riding at night; it’s not pleasant to me, and it’s not safe.
So bike riding is something that I know there is a specific deadline: sunset. I’ve got to get my full ride in before it’s sunset.
There’s a lot of things that interfere with it, but as the day continues, and I know it’s going to get dark, I make myself take a break.
If you want to exercise regularly, find something you like that you really look forward to. It may take you trying a lot of different things, but keep trying until you find something that you think is awesome and that you don’t want to miss. Bring your kids if you have to. Many gyms have a day care. You can run while pushing a stroller or attach a trailer to your bike.
And then give yourself a deadline. If you have a class that you know starts at a certain time, then you have to quit work, or at least take a break and continue later, to get to that class. It’s too easy to keep putting off going to the gym, because there is no deadline. There is always later.
You want your exercise routine to be so enticing you would be upset if you missed one day! That’s the way to ensure you will be motivated to get to it almost every day.