Don't you love crisp autumn air? There's a feeling of starting fresh, becoming organized, finishing up those projects it was too hot to do all summer, eating homegrown produce, getting on a schedule, and hopefully fitting an exercise routine into that schedule.
As most of you know I had a baby last month. Being on a schedule is still a bit out of reach for me, but once I hit that six week postpartum mark it's time to at least attempt some semblance of organization, revisit my former life and hopefully someday fit in those old jeans (it is horrid to still be wearing maternity clothes after the baby is born).
But getting back into an exercise routine is not easy. I've been shocked by how painful it is. When you're in shape and exercise vigorously it hurts but it's a productive, feel-good kind of hurt. When you're out of shape and/or recovering from injury or pregnancy this exercise-induced hurt is a miserable, I want to sit down on the side of the road, have a good cry, then call my husband to come get me kind of hurt. I keep promising myself and I want to promise any of you who are just starting out that it will get easier. Someday it will feel good to push myself again. But how to get to that point?
Motivation - First of all we need the motivation. That part seems easy to me. I'm very motivated to lose the pregnancy weight, to fit into my clothes again, to feel good, to be healthy for myself and my children (most especially my baby who gets all his nutrients from Mom right now). There are plenty of reasons or motivators to get into shape and eat healthy, but if you're like me I'm gungho in the morning but by mid-afternoon I'm justifying why I need some ice cream or dark chocolate (dairy in the ice cream and mono-unsaturated fat in the dark chocolate, how can you turn down health food like that?). In my case the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). So how do we keep that motivation strong in our minds and get through the tough times when exercise hurts or we don't have time to fit it in or we really, really need a slice of chocolate pound cake?
Day by day - take it one day at a time. Every morning I tell myself that this is a new start, a new chance to be healthy. Don't start telling yourself that you'll never eat chocolate again, the depression will overwhelm you and if you're like me you'll go on a chocolate binge. Focus on the healthy choices you're going to make today, worry about tomorrow later.
Promises - I make promises to myself. If I workout four days a week I get to sit down on Friday afternoon and read a good book (if I can talk the boys into it). If I hit my water goal every day I can get a specialty lemonade on my Saturday night date. If I eat five fruits and veggies each day I can have a treat (because if I say absolutely no treats the entire family suffers).
Deals - Another thing that really helps me is to make deals with other people. Promise your friend that you'll meet at the gym or go on a walk each morning, if one of you flakes you have to take your friend to lunch or she has to babysit your toddler for a few hours. Husbands work great for deals. When I hit my "normal" weight my husband has money set aside for me to go shopping for new clothes. (Now if I could just figure out where he hid it. )
Help - Turn to the source who cares about you in all aspects of your life. It's not wrong to pray for help and strength to be healthy. The Lord wants us to take care of ourselves and feel good, doing so means we can serve and love others more.
I hope we can all enjoy starting fresh this beautiful time of year and use some positive motivation to improve our health in some way.