Get Up, Get Moving

Exercise.  It’s a daunting word.  It’s three if you say it slow enough: Ex-er-cise.

The very mention of exercise in a group creates varied responses.  From rolled eyes to deep sighs to a myriad of sarcastic comments.  This three-syllable beauty wields a hefty load of power – it manifests an opinion from everyone.  And those opinions are rarely positive.  And that’s a shame.

Exercise by simple definition is movement that increases your heart rate and/or works your muscles.  It is as simple as walking quickly or lifting your child over and over and over again throughout the day.  But it’s link to fitness and shapely figures can create a variable cornucopia of angst and bitterness as it represents to many of us one more “to do” on an already exhausted list of daily chores (or “forced obligations”).  And so, we avoid it.

But whether we chose to admit it or not, exercise is a necessary part of health.  Your heart will not grown stronger without it.  Your stamina will not increase without it.  You will not maintain muscle tone or feel energetic without it.  You will not adjust your mood or distress easily without it.   It is simply something you must incorporate or suffer the consequences.

The problem is most of us simply have come to accept the consequences of our non-exercise embracing selves.  We chalk it up to “who we are”.  As if we were created to be sedentary, tired and stressed.  We label our bad moods or emotional frazzle-ment as part of our make up.  We label our lack of motivation and energy as our endowment of Motherhood.  We feel our heart racing and blame the heat or the stairs or the fact that we are carrying a toddler around.  But we rarely stop and truly acknowledge that we have created this version of ourselves.  And we rarely like to admit that we can change it.  But the truth is you can.

A Better Body After Baby is about empowering Mothers and unmasking the lies we have put onto things. Like the lie: exercise is a punishment of some kind. Or the lie: we should only exercise if we need to lose weight. The truth is exercise is a necessary part of a healthy body. Period. It is not in any way meant to be overwhelming or hard in that it should not inflict pain or cause you to go into a sweat at the very thought of getting into workout pants. Exercise should be something you look forward to and enjoy, even though at first it can feel foreign, strange and frustrating. But, I guarantee that once you embrace exercise you will love, love, LOVE the results. And those results will keep you coming back to it again and again.

But where do you even begin?  Well, we all have to start somewhere.  If you are a former athlete (lucky you… I was not) you may simply need to sit back and remember the feeling of competing.  How did your body feel when it was most agile and responsive to what you wanted it to do?  How did it feel to not be exhausted after a game or competition?  And then ask yourself if you would like to go back to that unity you had with your body.  If so, then remember the reality of the fact that you trained.  It wasn’t quick and easy, it was days of routine and discipline.  But you did it and you got those results.

Now if you are a former couch potato (like me!) you will need to ask yourself a different set of questions.  Ones like: wouldn’t it be great to run and not get winded?  Wouldn’t it feel good to go up a flight of stairs and not break into a sweat?  How would I feel if I got to move and exercise for up to an hour or two of time and not want to stop because I actually LIKED doing it?  What competition have I always said I wanted to do – a marathon, a triathlon, a synchronized swimming competition?  Why not get up and do it?

For me, I had to start very slowly and tediously as exercise was a bit of a nemesis.  It was a “necessary evil” since I longed to work as a professional actor (which means looking your best) but I so hated getting up off the couch – unless it was to go sit somewhere else… like a coffee shop.  So I started out with it in small, non-challenging doses and worked up bit by bit until I started connecting my overall health with my exercise routine.  I saw muscle tone I had never seen, I no longer felt winded when I ran or walked quickly.  I found that my energy had increased.  I was less stressed.  I even found my craving for junk food decreased.  But it wasn’t until I had kids that the superficial things (read: firm butt) about exercise became less important and the more lasting sense of teaching my children to love movement set it.

I don’t want my kids to have to overcome poor exercise habits (or, in my case NO exercise habit at all).  So I found ways to incorporate them when I can.  And kids will teach you something – our bodies were made to move.  And our bodies were made to love it.  Kids love moving and playing.  The problem is that we lose that sense of play in association with exercise.  We stifle it for the more mature list of bonuses exercise can offer us.  We take exercise inside to the gym where we make it regimented and sterile.  But in its purest form exercise is play.  Movement is fun.

So bring the kid-like exercise back into your life. Get up.  Get moving.  Go have fun.  And if you aren’t having any fun, change it up.  Try dancing or swimming or skipping or jumping rope.  Enjoy it.  Do it.  A lot.  You will never, ever regret it.

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