For most of my life, I’ve struggled with staying active. I’ve always been an introverted person and growing up as an introvert, it was incredibly difficult to derive any sort of enjoyment out of playing sports. In every PE class I was forced into, all I learned about were sports, sports, and more sports. Since I tend to shy away from competition, sports were not my cup of tea and my education didn’t really teach me any other way to be physically healthy! It seemed like the only way stay physically fit was to join a sport - something I avoided at all costs.
As a result of this distaste for PE class, I hardly got any exercise between the ages of 5 and 20. I got sick easily because my immune system was always hanging on by a thread and suffered horrible migraines throughout high school and college when school stress started to take a toll on my body. It wasn’t until my late college years that I started to investigate more options for staying active as a result of becoming more invested in my own health.
Now, I try to stay active for my own health and also try not to put too much pressure on myself! Yes, I would love for my fitness adventures to lead to abs and non-flabby arms, but given my YOLO philosophy when it comes to good food, those six pack abs aren’t really in the picture. Despite not being the best at sticking to a workout regimen or going to the gym regularly, I have noticed a huge difference in my health simply by trying to stay active. I used to get migraines at least once every couple of months and got sick at least once a month on top of that! It’s been a little over two years since I became more invested in my own health, and not only have I evaded migraines for nearly a year and a half, this past winter season, I did not catch a single illness despite being surrounded by snotty, sneezy co-workers! :)
One of the biggest light bulb moments for me when it came to fitness was realizing that fitness is very much a personal journey. It’s hard not to look at other people and compare, especially when it comes to fitness - but everyone is so different - your body is not their body, your brain is not the same as theirs, and something that works for them is not necessarily something that is going to work for you. With that in mind, I try to give everything a go and try new activities or workouts even if I’ve never heard of them before (or even if I'm a little scared to try them!). It took me long enough but I finally figured out some strategies that work for me and help me stay active!
Invest in a Fitness Tracker
I know that fitness trackers are all the rage right now so it may seem a little gimmicky - but for me, fitness trackers really have helped me stay more active. I lead a pretty sedentary life - most of my commute is getting in and out of a car and I sit at my desk in an office for most of the day. I had no idea just how sedentary my life was until I started using my fitbit. It’s helped me become much more aware of how little I actually walk and it reminds me to put in that extra effort to take the stairs!
I was extremely wary about this app at first because it’s an app that allows you to earn money if you hit your fitness goals, but also causes you to lose money if you do not hit your fitness goals…eek! This is actually pretty fair if you think about it, but extremely scary when you’re pretty lax about your fitness regimen like I am! After using it for a couple months though, I’ve found that the fear of losing money is so powerful that I really have been following through with the pact that I made on the app - and earning (a minimal) amount of money in the process. That fear of losing money, though, has been incredibly powerful towards making me get up and move more often!
Change Up my Workouts
When I first started working out, I wanted to be a yogi, or a runner, or an -insert fitness guru title here-. I wanted to become an uber fitness-er in one specific area but could never quite muster up the commitment to truly immerse myself in any one type of workout. Over time, I’ve realized that I just become bored when doing one workout over and over again! Now I try to change up my workout often and do whatever workout I feel like doing that day instead of cornering myself into a specific workout.
Keep Your Mind Engaged
Like I already mentioned, my biggest obstacle when it comes to working out is that I get bored! Especially when I’m doing something physically exhausting, my mind will find any excuse to stop exercising! I’ve found that dance based workouts have been amazing when trying to combat my mental boredom. I tend to be very goal-oriented. I like having a challenge and an agenda to follow so imitating a fitness instructor and trying to get all the moves right is an awesome challenge for my brain as well as my body (no matter how silly I look dancing!).
Watch The Amazing Race!
I know this one is a little weird and extremely specific, but I find that watching really active, competition based shows is an awesome motivator for me! If I’m running and need to watch a show to keep me occupied, I love to watch The Amazing Race because the competitors running around motivates me to keep running!
Walking Counts as a Workout :)
Okay this isn’t so much a strategy as much as it’s a philosophy. In almost any situation, I try not to put too much pressure on myself and try to remember that I’m human! In the name of self-compassion, I consider long walks (….or walks accompanied by shopping trips!) forms of activity, too! It may not be a direct sweat sesh at the gym, but as long as I’m staying active and contributing to my health, I consider that a success!
What are your favorite ways to stay active? I’d love to hear your thoughts!