The alarm goes off for the second time—and for the second time, I hit “snooze.”
All the guilt in the world comes piling into bed with me. I need to get up. I should let the dog out. I shouldn’t be so lazy. On and on the messages parade through my thoughts until I finally manage to heave myself out of the bed, feet to the floor.
It’s a daily struggle. I am not a morning person. I love sleep. I love my bed. And I rarely feel as if I’ve had enough of either. But, toward the end of last year, I started feeling weird. My head felt heavy, and my sense of stability was off. I’ve had blood pressure issues in the past, so I knew to give it a check. And, whoa, was it high. I mean, really high. Like when I went to the doctor, she said, “Don’t exercise until we get this BP down. I don’t want you stroking out.” (So she couldn’t have figured that part of the reason I was in that condition had something to do with the sedentary life I was living…but okay. No exercise? No problem!)
Medication. Appointment with the dietician. Plan for getting healthy. Check, check, and check. You see, my dad died of heart disease in 2015. He was 85, but still. My family medical history isn’t exactly stellar. So, there I was, a spry 42-year-old with high blood pressure and high cholesterol facing the music.
Something had to change.
Well, actually, lots of things had to change. I’ve struggled with being overweight my entire life. Food has been my coping mechanism for as long as I can remember. And, for years, I have watched my weight yo-yo: up, then a spurt of motivation, and back down. Stress happens: back up, then a spurt of motivation, and back down. Well, then I hit 40. For real, something happens to a woman’s body when she hits 40. I don’t know all the physiological data to back that statement up, but let me tell you: I’ve yo-yoed up and have struggled to get it down again—motivation or not.
The struggle is real: knowing what I need to do in order to be my best and then choosing what is best over what is easiest. It’s easiest to hit snooze. It’s easiest to go to a drive-through and get something fast. It’s easiest to make excuses. But, this year, I set an intention to get healthy by making better choices. It doesn’t mean I always make the best choice or that I never compromise. It does, however, mean that I’m mindful of the choices I make.
With my BP stabilized and the okay to exercise, I’m charting a new course on my journey to good health. So, feet hit the floor (maybe after a snooze or two—can’t tackle everything at once!), and workout clothes go on. First thing, no excuses. My morning routine now includes a 30-minute cardio circuit. I have no FOMO about gyms, so a video workout at home works just fine for me. I track my food intake with a handy app on my phone. And, every day, I remind myself that I can do hard things. None of this comes naturally to me. I have to work at it. I choose to work at it.
It’s self-care at its finest. It’s prioritizing my life over my default habits. It’s choosing new ways of coping with stress. It’s practicing awareness around what I consume and what I sweat out. It’s telling the inner critics to shut their traps, because I’ve got this!
We can do hard things. I know it often doesn’t feel like it. It often feels like the universe is conspiring against us. But, when we decide, when we choose what is best over what is easiest, we tend to discover just how many forces are in our corner, how many people have our backs. Choosing wellness is rarely easy. Making our health a priority might even feel like a luxury. It’s one luxury we can afford, though, if we choose it.
From my experience, I offer you now five quick tips for staying on a track with a new fitness routine:
1. Invest in a workout outfit (or two) that fits, that supports you in all the right places, and that makes you feel good about yourself. No schlumpadink workout gear! That’s exactly how you’ll feel. (Also, get good shoes.)
2. Lay out your clothes the night before. My workout clothes are waiting for me when I wake up in the morning. No time for excuses!
3. Pick a fitness option you’ll enjoy. Try a class. Workout with a partner. Find something you’ll stick with. I workout at home with an online program that offers both recorded and live workouts. Turns out, it’s my jam.
4. Ask a friend for support and accountability. I texted a friend and told her about my new fitness goal and requested that she ask me how it’s going every now and again. I really want to be able to tell her that I’m killing it every time she inquires!
5. Be realistic. Setting a goal of seven workouts a week might be pushing it if you’re just getting into the swing of things. Go for something achievable. Then, anything over your goal is icing on the sugar-free cake!
Author: Marjorie Avent
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Lieselle Davidson