Make exercise a habit today. Once you’ve fallen out of the habit of exercising on a daily or weekly basis, getting back into the routine can be brutal. Even when you know working out would lead to more energy and a toned beach body, it can be hard to make yourself get off the couch and head back to the gym or yoga studio. Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to take that first step in the right direction. Reminding yourself of the many health benefits of exercise, setting weight-loss goals, or picturing how you want to look in your wedding dress or tuxedo can help get you in the right mindset. Then it’s all about finding time to fit in workouts and sticking to that schedule as much as possible to build new habits.
How to get there
Here is a great example of how to make exercise a habit that needs to be understood by those reading this post. I have a friend who within two years went from 240 pounds to 180 – a net loss of 60 pounds! How did he do it? He made drastic changes to his lifestyle, both in diet and exercise. He did not kill himself in the gym, merely got on the treadmill and power walked his way slowly until he was able to do 50 minutes at a 12-degree incline, peaking at 4.2 miles per hour. He religiously did this three times a week. It became such a habit that he was able to incorporate it into his weekly routine and it became second nature. He stopped drinking beer and all sugary beverages. He adopted a diet that was more agreeable to his body.
Hurricanes can make one exercise without knowing it
Then, a category five hurricane hit and the gym closed for a month. All of the dietary sacrifices went out the window! Due to food shortages at supermarkets, he was forced to now eat processed meats, canned goods, and other foods which had been given up long ago. Bananas, apples, oranges, nuts, vegetables, lean meats and other essential food groups were in short supply. The days were extremely hot and humid, temperatures peaking at 106 degrees due to the deforestation caused by the hurricane. Potable and drinking water was also a precious commodity.
So how did he stay in shape? There was plenty of manual work to do during the recovery after the hurricane! There was plenty of debris to collect and carry away. Gasoline and diesel containers had to be negotiated every day, sometimes several times per day. The work was intense and sweating profuse. His place of work was flooded and he spent many hours bailing out water, throwing away more debris until mountains of trash accumulated outside his workplace. When he was able to work out, he followed these simple exercises which did not require his trusted treadmill. The family organized itself and cooked on a small gas stove. Small generators were obtained to keep refrigerators running a few hours per day.
When all was said and done, he had actually lost more weight due to the unintended exercise. Perhaps the anxiety of a bad situation and the survival mode one had to go into was a factor. But this is just an extreme situation, which shows that it can be done!
Make a deal with yourself to start today. Go on a short run or a long walk, sign up for a weekly kickboxing or yoga class, or turn on a brief fitness video. Carving out a few minutes per day is the perfect way to ease yourself into a regular routine again. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing yourself to work out a few minutes longer or run another mile farther. You may even find that you crave those workouts and the “me time” and chance to clear your mind that they provide. Even in times of distress, our bodies will continue to try to accommodate routines that benefit our overall well-being.