I love to work out.
In fact, if working out was always playing soccer or doing triathlons (my favorite ways to sweat), and I always had my husband available to watch my children, and if it left all 24 precious hours in a day still available, and if it didn’t require changing and showering… then I really wouldn’t need any other reasons to exercise.
But as it stands, I average working out just 4 of the 6 days a week that I shoot for, and it takes determination to do even that much. I work out before my children wake up, or I include them. Those are really the two options I have right now and neither one is ideal. Before they wake up, I can’t do anything high impact because I haven’t nursed my baby yet, and with them underfoot there are frequent interruptions. The weather often doesn’t cooperate for a double jog stroller expedition, and my knees haven’t been handling runs very well as of late.
All that being said, consistent exercise is absolutely worth whatever effort I put into it (and more).
These are some things that keep me shooting for 6 days a week:
- Exercise helps me live longer.
Study after study indicates that exercise helps prevention and recovery from disease. Exercise + a nutritious diet do more together than either does alone. It’s not enough to stay thin. You’ve got to get your body moving!
This effectively eliminates the “I don’t have enough time to exercise” excuse. You want a longer life? You’d better exercise!
Knowing you’re *supposed* to exercise doesn’t do it. YOU have to do it.
(Again… saying this to myself here…) 🙂
- Exercise helps me live better.
I have more spring in my step, I sleep better, I’m sick less, and I am happier when I exercise. Not necessarily *while* I’m exercising, of course, but as a result of exercise. 😉
This reminder helps when I just “don’t feel like” exercising. Almost without exception, when I bite the bullet and get sweating, I’m very glad I did.
- Exercise makes me a better Mom.
This one is all about Newton’s first law. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. When I’m fit, not only am I *able* to run around with my kids, but I’m much more likely to do so. With regular exercise, my instincts are to jump, climb, chase, and toss… rather than to sit on the sidelines and watch.
This reminder helps when I’m exercising rather than giving my children my undivided attention. It’s a block of time in my day that pays us both back many-fold.
- Exercise helps me grow babies.
Scott and I hope to have lots more children and I know that staying fit before, during, and after pregnancy (and while breastfeeding!) is better for my babies. Of course labor and delivery is an athletic event in and of itself, but regular exercise also gives you the mental and physical strength to walk fussy babies all hours of the night, helps you endure the extra aches and pains of pregnancy, and allows you to heft a toddler with ease when full-term pregnant. Ok, not with ease but certainly you’ll be better off than without the exercise! 🙂
- Exercise makes me look better.
This may strike you as funny coming from someone who can go days without looking the mirror, but I do care how I look! Exercise makes my skin more clear, it makes my standard t-shirt and jeans look better, and it makes it easier to shop for flattering clothes at the store. Of course, I also have a husband who appreciates a fit wife!
- Exercise makes me feel better about my body.
I’m like most women: I can be critical about my body. Exercise shows me just how much my body is capable of if I push it. There’s something so empowering about reaching a new level of fitness, or reaching it again after having a baby (or after slacking for a while). Knowing my thighs just took me up and down the stairs 30 times in 10 minutes or seeing the changes in my arms after weeks of pushups gives me positive things to look for in the mirror when I do find myself there. It gives me a greater respect for what my body can do.
When I exercise I’m making the most of the body that God gave me.
- Exercise recharges my batteries.
As a wife and a mother, I spend most of my day doing for others. Exercise is something I can do for myself (while still benefiting others. 2 points for efficiency!)
In ideal conditions, it gives me quiet time to think*. In any condition, it gives me a chance to shoot for a goal and the satisfaction of achieving it.
*My very favorite thing right now is going on a quick 20 minute jog after the girls are in bed on a night when Scott is home to hold down the fort. It’s all my knees can handle but it’s enough to enjoy time without any other demands on my brain power. There aren’t always enough cells to go around and it’s lovely to channel them all into pondering a problem without interruption.
- My exercise sets a good example for others.
It’s not just about me! Our culture is becoming more and more sedentary. More jobs are desk jobs. Even being a mom can be turned into a desk job if we’re not careful!
With “the norm” now being overweight, people who lead an active lifestyle are in the minority. My girls know I try and sweat every day, and I know my exercise motivates my husband (as his motivates me!) but I also like to “get out there”.
My girls will cheerfully wave from their stroller as we zip through the neighborhood, and it gives them a chance to see other people out riding their bikes and jogging. We bring them to watch us play basketball or soccer or run in a race and Mackenzie likes to cheer and kick around her own ball on the sideline. (Reality check: Last basketball game was early in the morning and she fell asleep on the gym stage instead.)
- I want exercise to be a life-long habit.
My parents are great examples to me of being fit grandparents and the dividends are amazing. They are both able to actively play with their 9 young grandkids. When I say active, I mean chase and jump and toss and tickle and climb and all the things that kids like to do best. (The roughhousing still falls solidly into my dad’s camp, as it always has. My mom tends to think someone is going to get hurt. 🙂 but my point is, she’s fully capable of keeping up!)
It’s easy for me to watch my dad effortlessly scoop up Mackenzie and toss her on the bed and say “I want Scott and I to be that way with our grandkids” but it’s another thing to actually put in the daily sweat hours to make it happen. It doesn’t come for free, but my goal is to hit 60 at a run, not at a crawl.
What about you? What keeps you going?