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Physical Fitness, Exercise Right for YOU

In a 2016 study for Elle magazine, Colorado Springs ranked eighth in the United States for overall fitness.

We are lucky to live in a community that understands the importance of physical fitness and offers so many ways to enjoy it. We have access to parks, trails and gyms. You don’t have to look far to see people enjoying the sunshine and fresh air while they run, walk, hike, bike and climb our gorgeous mountains. 

May is National Physical Fitness Month.

I admit, I frequently observe with envy. Sometimes living in a fitness-oriented community can be like salt in a wound.

You see, I have an autoimmune disease that limits my physical fitness capabilities. Physical fitness had always been part of my life until an illness took it away. Finding the right balance in exercise has been its own journey. One minute too long or one hill too far can set me back with flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks. Going from a year-around athlete to struggling to get out of bed was a huge adjustment. It took me years to regain strength and figure out what my body could handle. After a lot of trial and error, I finally found the right balance with yoga (pun intended).

Understanding your body and not judging yourself based on others’ abilities is the key to physical fitness. Once you do that, it can make all the difference. Trust me, I know. While it took time to get there, I feel so much better physically, as well as mentally, since I began to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. That can work for you, too, no matter your fitness capabilities. Keep your focus on what works for YOU.

Schedule physical fitness the way you would an appointment.

As moms, the other key is making our fitness a priority the way we prioritize feeding our children, cooking healthy meals for our families and the multitude of other daily tasks we accomplish. The greatest advice my physical therapist gave me is to schedule exercise like an appointment or child’s sporting event. She knows I would never miss a commitment like that. So now, when I make my weekly calendar, I schedule yoga and walks as if my family is counting on me (and they are).

In addition, physical fitness is more than just how we look, it’s how we feel. While it’s hard to not admire those who are the image of fitness, make exercise about how you feel and your long-term health.

When I exercise the way that’s right for my body, I feel great. When I try exercises that are right for someone else, I face major setbacks. So whether you’re a new mom and the only exercise you get one day is rocking your baby and doing multiple loads of laundry, that’s okay. It’s a phase. If you’re someone with an immune disorder or recovering from an injury and all you can manage is a walk around the block, it’s progress in the right direction. If you’re a marathon runner and you set a PR, keep up the good work. Love yourself for doing your best each day. Find what works for you and makes you feel good. Always strive for better, but don’t strive for what others are doing. Strive for what’s right for you. Do something every day, and love yourself for doing it.

The only comparing you should be doing is with what you did yesterday.

Accept your limitations without being defined by them. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. Focus on and celebrate what you CAN do. And keep at it.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz

Eight ideas to keep in mind if you’re in a fitness rut:

  1. Find your motivation. For me, it’s my family. I want to be healthy for them so that our time together can be quality. I want to model healthy behaviors for my daughters and play sports with them when they invite me.
  2. Set a goal. Having a finite goal in mind can help keep you focused. It can range from losing the baby weight to training for a triathlon. Whatever your goal, write it down and put it somewhere (like your bathroom mirror) where you’ll see it every day.
  3. Just get started. If you don’t know where to start, find a personal trainer. Research shows that it takes a little over two months to form a new habit. By then, you’ll know what works for your body and you’ll have practice making the time to do it. Also, you’ll learn how to exercise properly to avoid injury.
  4. Schedule your workouts like appointments. Exercising at the same time every day will help you form the previous mentioned habit. Plus, scheduling and making exercise a priority the way you do appointments ensures you don’t schedule something in its place.
  5. Find a workout partner. We all know that we follow through with commitments better when someone is counting on us.
  6. Switch up your workouts so you don’t get bored. If you’re doing yoga every day, change your routine or body target. If you run, walk or bike, find different routes.
  7. Include your children in your workouts. For younger children, play games together, race each other or put them on your back while doing push-ups. For older children, train together for a race or practice whatever sport they’re involved with together. Not only will you improve your health, you’ll make great memories.
  8. Be patient and give yourself grace. It takes time to see results from exercise. One day you’ll wake up feeling strong instead of sore. And if you miss a workout because life got crazy one day (and it will, if you’re a mom), tomorrow is a new day. The perfect day to start again.

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