Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forming a fitness habit

I love the title of this post, because that's how we should all view exercise, not as a chore, but as a fitness habit, something we do because we want to.

I wish I could say I came up with this headline, but the credit goes to Weight Watchers. It was this week's meeting theme, and it got me to really think about my love/hate relationship with exercise.

Weight Watchers makes this point: A long walk or a Zumba class is a good thing, but the real payoff comes with developing an active lifestyle. For years, I have been jealous of my two oldest kids, who make exercise a part of each day. For Caitlin, it's a long walk pushing a stroller with two kids and two Golden Retrievers for miles, up and down the hills of her town. She will also hit the gym at 5 a.m. for intense cardio and weights. For Tim, it's a daily run and time at the gym. Their days are not complete unless they spend a part of it engaged in exercise.

So here are some tips from Weight Watchers to make exercise part of your life. Most importantly: Take it one step at a time.
* Find a workout partner, who can add fun, encouragement and good advice. I did that on August 1, when I signed a contract -- yes, we wrote it out -- with my friend Ann to do at least 30 minutes of exercise five days each week. We meet four of those days and power walk on Fairfield's beach or the Trumbull mall, depending on time constraints and the weather.
* Listen to an MP3 player or watch television while you're exercising if you can.
* Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on how good you feel and how you are helping yourself, body and mind.

But how do you make exercise stick?

According to Weight Watchers, No. 1 is finding something you love to do. For me, that mission has finally been accomplished. Walking with Ann is not like exercise. We gab so much, before we know it, 45 minutes have passed and we've logged three miles. Certainly our pace does not set any records, but it gets our hearts pumping and our faces rosy with color.

I also discovered yoga, and the past few weeks have found the time to fit in five classes -- sometimes six -- each week. Yoga for me is not a chore. It is something I do to still my mind and stretch my body. I really cannot imagine living my life without it.

And the best thing of all: I feel terrific, sleep better, and am so much more focused than I have ever been in the past. I schedule my walks and yoga, and work the rest of my appointments around those times.

And I am no longer jealous of my kids. Thank God: I finally get it!

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