Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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I know. It's NOT the new year—but I can't help it. September feels like it might as well be.
And you know what happens over the summer. We get complacent. Lazy, even. The long days stretch out and all we want to do is luxuriate in the extra light and lounge as if we're lying on the beach (even if we're not).
It's not a bad laziness, but rather a type of laissez-faire, laissez le bon temps rouler time of year. (Like my French? That's about the extent of it.)
As much as I abhor routines, I do realize the value they have. They help keep you on track; help you plan and stay accountable to yourself. They make you feel organized, in a way. And since I score a solid "B" in organization, I need all the help I can get. When September hits, many of us realize—at least I did—that some routines just need to be resurrected.
One of the most common routines to lose during the summer is our exercise routine. And if you're searching for a way to get it back … you're welcome.
Get Cerebral.Just thinking about the benefits of exercise is a huge motivator. In a nutshell, exercise can:
- Control weight
- Help boost HDL (good) cholesterol
- Help decrease (unhealthy) triglycerides
- Improve mood
- Boost energy
- Promote better sleep
- Protect against heart disease, high blood pressure and some kinds of cancer
Be Realistic. If you don't have long legs and a naturally small waist, all the imagining in the world (see below) won't get you those attributes you (can only) dream about. Many workout attempts have been derailed because people don't get the results they want. You can get the results you want—if you're realistic about them.
Imagine. Close your eyes and think about what you'd like to look and feel like. It's possible, with the right kind of exercise, to transform your body. But remember, you must be realistic (see above).
Do What You Like. If you think walking on a treadmill is akin to waterboarding, then don't expect you'll suddenly embrace the idea just because you've decided you will. There are plenty of other ways to exercise. Do something you love, and you'll be much more likely to stick with it. And, if you like working out later in the day, go ahead. Just because someone says the "optimal" time to exercise might be early morning, if you are not a morning person, all bets are off that you'll do it.
Prepare Yourself. Set your exercise clothes out the night before. Put your gym bag near the front door. Leave your water bottle on the counter. These subtle reminders will help you remember the thing you might rather forget.
Buddy Up. There's nothing more motivating than knowing there's someone, somewhere, depending on you. Whether it's a friend you walk with regularly or a trainer expecting you to show up, that's a silent nudge to get moving.
Write It Down. Put it on your calendar, just like you'd schedule a doctor or dentist visit (and it's a lot more fun and less expensive than either of those!). If you don't block out the time for exercise, it's too easy to find an excuse (that's where "I'd rather get a root canal" comes from) not to do it.
Do It Anywhere. A gym is not the only place to work out. Take advantage of nice days and take your workout outside. Find a local park, many of which have free fitness equipment where you can do things like crunches, pull-ups, dips and more. Or, work out at home—even in front of the TV—using some hand weights and fitness bands.
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.