In the world of social media, there are a lot of inspirational quotes to get you moving. Some of my favourites include:
‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.’
‘Fit is not a destination – it is a way of life.’
And my fave: ‘No one ever drowned in sweat.’
But, I really like to sweat. Not everyone is like me. In fact, most Canadians are not. Canadians think they are active. In a Statistics Canada survey in 2009, 50 percent of Canadians said they were moderately active. They were wrong. In fact, 85 percent of Canadians are not getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise they should be getting.
This is the point where you start to tune me out. Because pretty soon I’m going to talk about the benefits of exercise ‘ you’ll live longer, sleep better, lose weight, gain muscle, burn calories sitting still, lower your cholesterol, lower your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But who wants all that? Then I’m going to ask you what your excuse is for not exercising, and you’re going to politely tell me where to go. Got it.
I had a hard time writing this blog. The fact of the matter is I not only get paid to exercise, I love it. Most people hate exercising. Some do it grudgingly, but as I mentioned above, a lot of people don’t. They need to see immediate benefit to getting fit ‘ and on the first day in the gym, when they are standing around terrified of the spin class and not sure what to do on the treadmill, their spirits sink. Research shows fear of the treadmill is one of the top reasons people quit the gym. No, I just made that up. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.
Getting into shape can be intimidating, especially when studies tell you to get 150 minutes of activity each week and you are struggling to get to the gym. The number one reason cited for not exercising is not having time. I didn’t make that up.
What I cannot stand are the fitness bullies, the converted gym lovers who post quotes like ‘A one-hour workout is 4% of your day’NO EXCUSES!!!’ I also blame reality makeover shows, the Extreme Fat Camps with buff, glistening trainers screaming at sweaty, red-faced people who want rather be ordering fast-food at the drive-thru than pushing tractor tires across a field. In what world would you ever need to push a tractor tire across a field.
Really? In my circle of friends and family there plenty of excuses: my husband wants to spend time with the kids after work, instead of going to the gym; my best friend, a teacher, has hellishly long days; my lawyer friends can’t find time to eat lunch, let alone hit the gym; and let’ s not forget my friends fighting cancer, or chronic injuries. There are excuses.
But do your excuses have merit? Or are they just excuses?
Here is my 66-day challenge to you: try and find 10 minutes a day for fitness. We have some great ideas here on the Best Health website ‘ I designed several of the workouts, and when my editors asked me to write the ’10-Minute Tune-Ups’ I argued that 10 minutes of fitness is not enough exercise. I’ve changed my tune. If you aren’t doing anything, 10 minutes is a good start. And, it is better than nothing.
Here is what I promise: in 66 days, exercise will be your new habit. You might not love it, but you will love how it has changed you. In fact, you will see results in less time, and I’m pretty sure if we check in at the half-way mark, you’ll be doing 20 or 30 minutes a day instead of 10. If you are already going to the gym, or working out at home, but it is more sporadic, try to make it a habit ‘ every day, for 66 days. See if it sticks.
I make excuses for not doing yoga. I teach fitness, I run, I’m busy. The truth is, I’m not great at camel pose and I can’t do a headstand and I loathe doing things I’m not good at. So, I’m leaving my ego at the door ‘ where it should be left ‘ and taking my own 66-day fitness challenge to do more yoga. I will hit a yoga class 1-2 times a week, and try to fit in 10 minutes daily on my own. Yoga is tied in with my stillness challenge, and if I don’t start doing more yoga I’m going to fall apart. Literally. You want to know tight? Meet my hip flexors.
One of my all-time favourite motivational fitness quotes is: ‘Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you there.’
Motivate yourself, stick with the habit, and see where the journey takes you.
Follow me on Twitter @erinpp
Erin Phelan is a fitness trainer and mom of two. She’s a regular contributor to Best Health and will be blogging here every Tuesday and Friday for the next 66 days.