Do you have ‘exercise’ on your to do list everyday but find it always slides off the bottom of the list as you prioritize more pressing activities?
You know you should do some exercise. You know that it's an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But you just find other, more important things to do first. You are in awe of those people who seamlessly fit it in every day. Often, for you, it’s in that too hard basket, or it’s too hot, or there’s little time because of everything else you have to do. You’ll find yourself shifting your day around to take your child to their training, rather than find time for your own.
Every year, you start with a goal to increase your exercise, and by the middle of January, your good intentions have already fallen aside.
Yep, I get you! I’m the same!
Regular, daily exercise has always been the first thing to fall off my list (and, if I’m being honest, it still does some days). I’ve never really enjoyed getting hot, sweaty, going to a noisy, claustrophobic gym, nor have I ever succeeded in disciplining myself to do at home workouts. If I do find myself with a free half an hour to spare, I’d much prefer to take a quiet moment and relax.
Up until your 40s, you managed to get away with it - your body shape didn’t really change and you were still able to chase after that run-away toddler when you needed to. Any risks of heart problems or diabetes, associated with being unfit and overweight, seemed in the future. No need to worry when there’s always time later.
But then at some point…during your 40s, you notice that your body isn’t coping quite so well - there’s the increasing weight, the aches and pains, the lack of energy or the shortness of breath as you walk up the stairs. You begin to realise that you are not as fit and healthy as you thought you were. Your body is struggling and you don’t like it. You’ve realised that you are that much closer in age to when your mum had a heart attack and your aunty was diagnosed with diabetes. They were in their 50s - that’s not so far away and you don’t want the same thing happening to you.
Studies show that regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of and manage many health conditions; it improves brain and memory function, sleep quality and duration, cardiovascular health and bone mass as well as reducing the risk of developing some cancers.
For women, in their 40s, the right kind of exercise helps with many of the perimenopausal symptoms too like irritability and mood swings, brain fog, insomnia, low sex drive, low energy and weight gain. It also helps with managing stress, balancing hormones, regulating blood sugar levels and strengthening muscles too.
But what is the ’right kind of exercise’......particularly, in our 40s, we need to be careful that the choice and duration of exercise is right for our body. Too much exercise or too intense exercise can actually exacerbate some of the hormonal imbalances within our changing body. It might increase hunger, food cravings and cortisol levels (a stress hormone) which won’t help with weight loss and other perimenopause symptoms. The wrong type of exercise can lead to injury and exhaustion, making it even more unsustainable in the long term.
Other reasons why regular exercise might be hard to sustain are:
You haven’t identified your deep inner motivation
You are more likely to succeed at something if you have a passion or a drive to pursue it. Changing habits is the hardest, especially when they are initially difficult. You need to understand your deep, inner motivations. What is your end goal and why is that important? Saying you want to lose weight isn’t enough. Ask yourself why you want to lose weight?…..why is this important?… what will happen in 6 months, 1 year, 10 years… if you don’t do something about it now?
You haven’t found an activity you actually enjoy
You are more likely to continue doing something that you enjoy and in an environment that you are happy. I used to go to a gym. It went well for a while but then the classes got busier. I began to feel increasingly squashed in the class - it wasn’t so much the lack of space to move but the lack of personal space around that plus the darkness and stuffiness of the room. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and gradually stopped going. I know I am more likely to stick with physical activities that are outside, in nature and in fresh air. It’s in my biology; it’s what I need. Where do you prefer to exercise?
You haven’t prepared for the obstacles that get in the way
Even with a plan, there are always unexpected things that pop up in your day. The best way to overcome this is to plan for the unexpected. So, if your plan is to go for a walk but it’s raining, then you need to decide whether you will still go in the rain and wear a jacket, or go inside and use the hour to do an at home workout video instead? Alternatively, if you have injured your knee and can’t run on it, can you swim instead? And, you might consider increasing the amount of movement you do during the day, like taking the stairs, not the escalator at the shopping mall, or walking the long-way round the office floor to the toilets rather than taking the shortest route. That way, if your plans to exercise later don't happen you know you’ve done that little bit more throughout the day than you normally would.
You don’t have anyone to keep you accountable.
Many of us need a bit of encouragement or a cheering squad to keep us engaged in our pursuit. Having an accountability buddy or a coach increases your success rate of achieving your goal by 95%. You could arrange to do your exercise with a friend or be part of a team - you’re less likely to let the exercise slide off your to-do list if you’re going to be letting someone else down.
Eventually, you may not need to add ‘exercise’ to your to-do list as it just becomes part of your usual everyday routine, just like brushing your teeth happens every day but doesn’t feature on your list.
Do you need help identifying your motivations or planning to overcome your obstacles? Perhaps you need to identify this right type of exercise for you? All this and more is covered in The IN SYNC Method - join the VIP Waitlist now to be the first to hear when it opens.