Exercise: The 12 Days to Lower Stress Levels
Exercise is the one thing we all wish we were doing more of. We want to fit into our clothes right. We want to be able to play soccer with kids. We want to look in the mirror and love what we see.
It's hard to find the motivation to exercise, but you build yourself up to a routine. If you just start of January 1st saying "I'm going to go to the gym for 1 hour every day from now on," you're going to disappoint yourself immediately when you miss for the first time. A single lazy day shouldn't ruin your whole resolution.
I'm going to do this one with you. I'd like to have a body I'm proud of and I'm way too close to an unhealthy BMI to let myself get comfortable on the couch.
Take the stairs in your work building. Do 20 squats every time you leave the house. Sit on an exercise ball when you're working or watching TV.
That little bit of work you did? It's still rewarding. Even if you get just a little surge of endorphins, that positive reinforcement will help you repeat that good behavior.
Now, you can go for walks during your lunch break. Find a relaxing weekly tai chi or yoga class, or even belly dance. Do 15 push ups against the wall before every shower.
A weekly habit turns into a more-than-weekly habit. Swim 50 laps in the pool any morning it's warmer than 70 degrees. Stretch before bed. Stream a Zumba video to your TV and get a few songs in while dinner cooks.
Make it a priority.
Get on a schedule to get your exercise in. The same way you plan to eat 2-3 times a day, plan to add some exercise, too. Ravi used to play soccer on Fridays. He loved it and it was a great workout. I always knew not to plan for anything before 6:30pm on Fridays, since he was going to be playing soccer and it was a priority for him.
You can also try dance. Dance is such a great workout and it's fun, so you sometimes forget you're even exercising. I used to dance salsa, bachata, cumbia, merengue, and cha cha 5-6 nights a week at local studios, bars, and nightclubs in Seattle. I had the legs of a goddess. Everyone knew me and I had a great circle of friends. I felt talented and beautiful, while at the same time sculpting my abs, hips, and legs.
I also love Cyclebar. Everytime I take a class, I feel healthy, wealthy, and strong. It's a spin class, but it's set up like a nightclub. It's not cheap, but it's worth every penny to feel the rush of endorphins after class. My legs are wobbling, I'm sweating like I rode the Tour de France, and I get a report via email that says I burned 500 calories. Absolute win.
Groupon has some great deals on small crossfit studio classes and personal training. You can get some direction that can make the sessions you do alone more productive or find a great new place to get swole.
I have a 15 class pass with the hot yoga studio, but it's been months since I went to a class. It's so easy to stay home. There's always something that needs to be cleaned. I'm always days behind on a blog. There's always an expense report that needs to be filed for work. There's always some vegetable in the fridge that will spoil if I don't cook it that same day. Also, I'm cold. Also, I'm sleepy. Also, I think that maybe my head hurts but if it doesn't, something does...
Today, I'm going to do one of those yoga classes. I'm going to order a Fitbit, too. And I'm going to do 20 squats before leaving my house every time. I am a priority. I am just as important as whatever thing that needs to be cleaned or whatever other thing needs to be done.
Looking at my belly rolls in the mirror is stressful. On days I'm a little heavier, I get heartburn, which is stressful. Feeling like I don't have the strength to carry a couch into my new house is stressful. I don't deserve to feel like shit and I am solely responsible for taking care of myself.
More than anything, it is stressful knowing that exercise can help me prevent even more stressful experiences in the future. Maybe I can avoid hypertension that tends to run in my family. Maybe I can avoid preeclampsia that has shown up in my family history. Maybe I can avoid my weight becoming an issue I can no longer control.
Husband needs to eat dinner? He is a grown man. He can figure out how to eat food without you every once in awhile. You can meal prep tomorrow. Go to the gym.
Kids don't have a sitter? Workout while they're at gymnastics or at baseball practice. Streaming a Zumba class is fun for everyone. Go play soccer at the park with them.
Don't have time? Do not turn the TV on until you've exercised. Lift that ream of printer paper while you're printing documents. Curl that gallon of milk while you're walking through aisles at the grocery store. Listen to that conference call or lecture while you're on the treadmill. You do have time.
An object in motion, stays in motion. An object at rest, stays at rest. If you can improve your life, you should. Get your health and well-being in order! Stress sucks and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to reduce it.
There are tons of options to add exercise into your daily routine and I'm realizing as I type this that I really should be taking advantage of some of them. I have no valid excuses and you don't either.
Thank you for giving me this platform to reflect on myself. Talking about the ways to lower your stress levels makes me look at my own lifestyle. On the day we made a plan, I started looking at my own goals. On the day we fixed our environment, I was able to look around and brainstorm ways to fix my own space. You're awesome for going with me on this journey.
As always, leave me a comment. You can tell me about your favorite way to exercise!