Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Practical Suggestions for Exercising [Fit Mamas Series, Part 3]

Working out makes a mom more valuable to her family and there are many ways to fit it into even the busiest schedule.  There are also many things to consider that will help to make working out a reality in your life.
'kettlebells' photo (c) 2012, Hobbies on a Budget - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Repent No practical suggestion I can give will help if there is sin clouding this area of your life.  I find that when it comes to fitness, women often fall in one of two categories: laziness or idolatry.  Laziness comes in when we just don't feel like making the effort to workout (of course, we have lots of "good excuses" why we can't).  God allows us to reap what we sow, and if you sow bad habits, you will reap bad health.  Repent of laziness and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the self-discipline to workout.  This repentance may need to happen daily, so continuously bring your need and weakness in this area before God.

On the other hand, you may struggle with the sin of idolizing fitness.  You might spend hours researching the best and latest fitness trends and feel guilty about missing one day of exercise.  You only feel worthwhile if you are doing your workouts regularly and constantly compare yourself to others.  Repent of this idolatry, and realize that one day your body will wither no matter what you do, and ask God to give you a right perspective on working out in a way that honors Him (this repentance will probably also need to be daily!).

Repentance is the key to having clean hands and a clean heart and the Spirit's power as you seek to honor God with your body through fitness.

Pinpoint Specific Goals and Consider Your Life Stage When embarking on an exercise program (or tweaking your existing one) be intentional about the direction you decide to go.  Consider your life stage.  For example, are you pregnant?  Then you will want to exercise in such a way to help facilitate an easier delivery (by doing things like squats, endurance training, and core exercises).  Or, do you have nagging pain in a certain area (such as your back)?  Don't just live with it, seek out specific exercises from a physical therapist or chiropractor to help strengthen these areas, which can relieve or eliminate the pain.

Find a Workout Partner Working out with someone else is much more motivating and fun.  I find that when I am working out with others, I also put forth a lot more effort.  Having a partner can help you to stay on track and be more accountable to regular workouts if you are struggling with that.  Not only are you helping yourself to find a partner, you will also be helping a friend and growing a friendship.

Make an Investment Its tempting to want to get fit without having to pay much to do so.  After all, all you really need are comfy clothes, gym shoes and some sidewalks for something like running.  If you are really motivated, this might be possible.  But for some people, especially if you are starting to exercise after a long period of not doing so, making some kind of investment into exercising might be worth it.  When you make an investment of your money, you are more likely to follow with an investment of your time.  So, buy some new workout shoes or clothes, pay for a class or gym membership, a jogging stroller, new kettlebells/dumbbells/a jump rope or whatever will assist you in achieving your fitness goals.  And remember than even spending a few hundred dollars now on your health will probably save you thousands in healthcare costs in the future.  

If you are a mom who (like me) feels guilty about spending money on herself, talk to your husband to see how it can be fit into the budget.  Most husbands would be more than eager to support their wife's fitness goals.

Seek Guidance As frugal as I am, I do think that it is worthwhile (especially if you are new to working out) to hire a personal trainer for a time or at least join a class with a good instructor who will teach you important basics, correct your posture and form and teach you the best times to breathe.  Working out correctly is vital; in fact it is better not to work out at all than to do so incorrectly.  Similarly to the importance of making an investment like I mentioned above, paying now for guidance through a class or trainer will save you money on medical bills from future work-out related injuries.  Bad form is more common than you might imagine, because using bad form is usually easier than having correct form.

Another benefit of a trainer or class is that you will probably be pushed harder than you would push yourself on your own.  When you learn that you are capable of more than you previously thought, you will gain more from your time working out.

I can speak first hand to the benefits of learning from trained professionals.  The past two weeks our next door rec center has been having free classes, so I took advantage of as many as I could: core strength classes, bootcamp (functional fitness), pilates, dance and a few others.  While I wasn't intending to ultimately join any of the classes, I went to learn new skills and different methods of working out and be pushed by someone other than my own self.  Not only did I thoroughly enjoy every class I attended, I was surprised at how much I learned (considering that I workout regularly and and fairly well read on the subject).  A couple times I was corrected on lazy form and in a few classes the instructors reminded us about breathing techniques that I don't think about enough while working out.  So, even if you are well experienced in exercise, you can benefit from the teaching of others, as you have probably built up some bad habits over the years.

Do something.  Start somewhere.  When we had four kiddos, I went from running 3-4 times per week to not working out at all.  Part of it was the time factor, but mostly it was because I told myself that working out was selfish, something I only did for myself, so I needed to sacrifice this luxury for the sake of serving our kids.  After a while, though I realized the folly in my thinking, and I started to make exercise a priority.  But, realistically, exercizing is hard when you have four littles, even if you are committed.  At that point in life, I was mostly doing ten to twenty minute workouts (I will give some suggestions on these later in the series) and walks.  I wasn't nearly as in shape then as I am now (mostly because I have more time now) but the important thing is that I was doing something

So if you are in the four littles stage of life, do your best.  Start somewhere.  Be realistic and have grace on yourself, but do make some effort.  You will notice a difference and feel better even with short workouts.  In time, as life allows, you will be able to build up.  As long as you are making some time to do it even now, it will be easier to continue and do more in the future. 

[I am just a mama sharing from my own experiences.  Don't listen to my advice any more than you would from a random person on the street.  Seek out your own health professional for what is best for you in regards to health and fitness for your life.]

Click here for part 4, some sample 10 minute core workouts...

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