Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Exercise as a chore, a "drug" or a lifesaver?

I know I'm not perfect but I am proud of my dedication and will-power. Growing up, I don't think I realized that everyone has a different perception of diet and exercise, and it makes me a little sad. I'm still fairly astounded when I hear of people who don't exercise - ever. Mostly I'm thinking "Do you have any idea what you're missing out on?!"

To me, exercise is like eating - it's a necessity of life, and I can't imagine a life without incorporating even a weekly workout. So I thought it would be important to explain just how amazing exercise truly is.

Seriously, how amazing is this photo from one of my favourite workouts? Susan Harris in the 80's... legwarmers, bodysuits, men with mustaches... Amazing :)

I think we get stuck in the whole "gym" idea. People think that in order to exercise they need to join a gym. Like that's the secret to getting fit for someone who never exercises. "I want to lose 10lbs so I'm joining a gym!" Seriously? A gym is not a weight loss pill and a gym will not force you to attend. They're perfectly happy just to take your money and not see you again, unless they can talk you into personal training sessions and take more of your money. So this is the part when you need to take control over your workout.

I'm not saying that gyms are bad and personal training sessions won't help you. They can be amazing and some people praise their personal trainers, but you have to beware of your expectations. I wish we would get away from the thought that exercising is a chore: You know you have to do it, but you dread it. You psych yourself up to it and you kinda do it, but then the next day you're so proud and content with the fact that you had your exercise and don't go back to it for a while.

I'm the opposite. You can almost say that it's like a drug to me. I need to workout, otherwise I will get very fidgety and restless, just itching to do something active... Like a workout withdrawal. And then there are those days when you push yourself just a tiny bit harder and you wake up with nice sore muscles. It's like they're telling me "Man, we really did work yesterday - good job!" and then your muscles give you a little high-five for being such a trooper. ... at least, that's how I like to think it is.

Maybe you're not up for an hour-long weight aerobics or cardio workout, but start with some great stretching. Get your muscles warmed up. Yoga is amazing for that! You'll increase your flexibility and mentally feel really relaxed afterwards.

Exercising isn't just like a drug to me, but a lifesaver. I can't even count how many times a workout has saved me when I'm feeling my worst. Working out dissolves my PMS and cramping; If I'm feeling angry, I let my aggression out with some kickboxing cardio (thank you Turbo Fire), and if I'm just plain grumpy, or bored, a workout will reset my whole body and mentality.

Everyone should have "me-time". Time when you can block out the rest of the world and focus on you. That's what this does for me. I love my old 80's videos (now on DVD thanks to www.collagevideo.com) and I will do them in whatever space I have.

I think the biggest hiccup is that people say they don't have enough time. I think when it comes to your physical health and your sanity, you need to do what you have to do.
  • Wake up earlier. (Just make sure to eat the tiniest bit of something pre-workout)
  • Have your kids workout with you (this doesn't always work... my niece always wanted me to pick her up and hold her while I tried to workout and obviously that wouldn't work)
  • Have someone watch your kids while you're busy for an hour.
  • Have dinner in a slow-cooker and workout as soon as you get home from work (if you're snacking throughout the day, you won't necessarily be starving when you come home. Plus, sitting while commuting can be terrible for your hip flexors among other things)
  • Workout on your lunch break (I also used to do this when my work was only a 5 minute drive from home... totally worth it)
  • Workout with a friend (that way you have no excuse to miss it)
  • Try going to a gym and use your membership fee as an excuse to go there. Get your money's worth!
  • Buy a 10-class pass to a yoga or fitness class - again, that way you have to use them up because you already paid for them. 
  • Make sure you do something fun or that you enjoy. If you hate the type of workout you're doing, you're not going to want to do it. If it's a video you're doing, make sure you like the instructor. If you're running, make sure you have a sweet-ass music playlist to keep you going. 
  • For 30 minutes (or one-hour if you can) be selfish. It's so hard when you have family and friends who count on you, but at the same time, you can't take care of anyone if you're not taking care of yourself
I can't stress that last point enough. I've seen it happen far too often with people around me. They work themselves into the ground trying to please or help everyone around them. And these same people maybe think I'm selfish but I don't care. I know how badly I need to take care of myself otherwise I'll be run into the ground too. 30-60 minutes is really a very short splotch of time in a 24-hour day. Do something for you and your body. If you keep up with it, you won't regret it.

For a list of my favourite workouts, check out this link from my website: http://www.thehealthyfox.ca/#!workouts/c24co