I finally lost the extra "baby weight" that I couldn't seem to shake for years. That old adage "it will just fall off when you are nursing" thing didn’t work for me. A few years ago I hit a wall. My babies were nearly teenagers. I was not getting any younger. And to be honest, I was sick of feeling like crap about myself.
I knew that if I really wanted things to change then I was going to have to do something different.
I did a 6-week cleanse. I lost 30 lbs.
I started making healthier choices (aka "bye, bye sugar, I'm no longer your bitch"). I became an avid label reader in the supermarket. I incorporated new foods into my regular repertoire (hello coconut oil, kale, quinoa, stevia and avocado) and I broke up with Starbucks pumpkin muffins.
But I also accomplished something that I had been trying to do all my life: I became a regular exerciser.
After I lost the weight I realized that in order to keep it off, I needed to move my ass. I'd flirted with exercise before. I joined gyms, tried classes and did boot camp. But this time felt different: I was not willing to go backwards. I reckoned that if I was going to be motivated to stay on a cardio machine then I was going to need to take drastic measures.
So I tricked myself.
I downloaded the first season of Friday Night Lights onto my iPhone. I got a free, 2-week pass to the gym in my neighborhood. I got on a stair master, plugged in my headphones and lost myself in the drama of Dillon, TX.
43 minutes later I was sweaty, out of breath and I had barely noticed the time passing.
The trick totally worked.
I was inspired to go back the next day and then the next - and I always had the incentive of a new episode to help get me there.
I wanted to feel stronger so I tried something called Body Pump™, a class where you lift weights to music. The routines are simple and easy to follow which is key for someone like me who flunked Aerobics 101. Admittedly I was so sore afterwards that I needed to hold on to the sink when I sat down to pee but now I know where my glutes are. I try and go 2x per week.
I finally know how good it feels to be fit.
These days I alternate my stair climbing with Spin classes, yoga and walks around Green Lake with friends. No matter how busy I am I choose to make exercise a priority. It is non-negotiable.
Since that first day over 4 years ago I have come a long way. I am caught up on every single episode of Weeds, Damages, Lost, Mad Men, Big Love and several other shows that remain guilty pleasures (Vampire Diaries I am talking to you). I graduated from my iPhone to an iPad. I've gone through at least 4 pairs of Nikes. I even dropped some more weight. And the fact remains that I created a healthy habit that has stayed with me for years.
The spark was the trick/incentive/treat of getting to enjoy something fun.
Maybe for you the trick is downloading that podcast you have always wanted to hear. Perhaps you want to join a book club but think you never have time to read. This is your chance! Get creative with your tricks. It could feel like a treat instead.
As for me, I am now, officially, "physically active". When I fill out the form in the doctor's office that asks, "how often do you exercise?," I proudly check the box that says 5-7x per week.
To quote Coach Taylor and the folks in Dillon, "Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose."