About a year ago a red-faced and rather sweaty woman told me that she went for the “most punishing gym session”. She told me with a satisfied smile I guess, but it got me thinking about the language we use to describe exercise. We seem to have this idea that food can be “naughty” and that exercise can be “punishment”. I decided to have a think about that and work out how I felt about MY food and MY exercise.
I knew that I wanted to tone up and get strong again after my second daughter was born. I remember glamorously climbing the stairs with a small basket of laundry and finding myself completely out of breath at the top. We only have one set of stairs! I was carting 18kg of extra body weight around and I had not been for so much as a fast walk in years. I wanted to get strong but I didn’t want to exercise. Just the idea of getting into the clothes required to exercise scared me and felt so unfamiliar. But, I knew it was time. Time to use the gym membership I had owned for three years and barely used.
Another friend of mine had discovered how much her workouts improved when she listened to great music and suggested to me that I do the same. I realized that my gym had wi-fi and instead of just listening to music, I watched You Tube! I got on the elliptical walker and I watched the most inspiring videos I could find. Inspiring people are like fuel for me. I can’t get enough of the Wayne Dyers and Gabrielle Bernsteins of the world. I found that I hardly noticed I was exercising and didn’t want to stop! For some of you you might prefer to watch your favourite TV show or a fascinating documentary.
The point is – the time at the gym became my time to connect with and enjoy myself. Not only was I working my body, but also my mind. I left that elliptical walker every day with endorphins flowing as well as ideas. It sounds so simple but using You Tube to deliver me more than a workout has led to what I call “layering” in my Coaching Practice. It’s not enough to want to exercise to lose weight. We need more than that to stay inspired and for the workout routine to become a desired part of every possible day. We need our exercise time to become a “non-negotiable” and need it like we need our morning coffee or hugs from our loved ones. I believe the way to do that is by layering your exercise with things that you love.
Perhaps you love to dance or maybe swimming is what makes you feel the most powerful and free? Think about what you loved to do as a child. Did you love team sports perhaps? Maybe you were a great tennis or squash player back in the day and remember it being an excellent workout AND a good laugh. If you love the social aspect of sports, make your exercise social! A client of mine loves to dance but she has two small children and doesn’t feel ready to leave the house without them. I suggested she dance with them and introduce them to her favourite music. She did it and they all had a blast! Bring love into your workouts and I am willing to bet you’ll be inspired to make movement a regular part of your life.
I have lost the extra body weight now and have actually stopped going to the gym completely. I realized that for the time being I am tired of taking in information for an hour or two on the walker and in the weights room. I LOVE being strong and toned though so I created a workout I can do at home in half an hour. I do some very intensive strengthening and toning exercises and follow it up with 10 minutes of deep yoga stretching and end with 10 minutes of silent meditation. When I get tired of being inside I go for a long walk in nature and listen to beautiful relaxing music instead. This is what works for me right now. Work out what you love to do and engage with your body in that way. Layer your movement with music or entertainment that you love. The next thing you know you might find yourself deeply enjoying your exercise time and unable to consider the idea of “punishing” your amazing body ever again.