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As of today, I will be at a conference called The Women’s Fitness Summit. I already know many of the amazing women who will be there, or who will be presenting, even though this will be my first time at the event. So I’m really excited. It’s going to be an awesome time! In honor of my weekend of nerdiness and fun, I thought I’d take a break from the nutrition side of things to talk about the fitness side of the coin, and specifically: how you can make fitness FUN! (And yes, that’s me in the photo. There’s a video below too!)
I will be completely forthright with you. I am not a trainer, nor will I probably ever be. I enjoy fitness, but I don’t LOVE it. I just want to share with you what I currently do, what I’ve done in the past, and my general “approach” to fitness, which is basically to enjoy it as much as possible.
When it comes to fat loss, food is king. Even those who are injured can avoid gaining weight when they’re laid up on the couch by keeping an eye on their eating. But exercise and movement are still very big pieces of the proverbial pie. It helps us to lose weight, and it offers a myriad of other benefits too. Stress relief. Cardiovascular health. Lower risk of dying. Improved mood. Better sleep. The ability to actively play with our kids. Better health markers of blood lipids and glucose. The list goes on and on!
The big take-away here is that exercise isn’t JUST for weight loss. It has a slew of other awesome benefits that you reap just from doing it, even if the number on the scale never changes.
You can feel free to scroll past all this if you don’t care about my fitness history. I promise not to be offended 🙂
Like many people, I go through phases of being more or less active. Sometimes I follow an actual workout plan. Other times, I wing it. And other times, I’ll admit to not doing a whole lot of anything! I will tell you though, that the times I’m staying consistent are the times I’m really enjoying what I’m doing.
When I was a kid, I took dance lessons. I was always really quite horrible at regular sports, but I loved dancing. I was never going to be a professional ballerina, or audition for SYTYCD, but I was good enough that I enjoyed it. I liked learning new steps. I liked moving to music. I loved performing. And for all of those reasons, I stuck with it through my entire childhood, and all the way through college. I had passing attempts at softball (rather hilariously pitiful), and Tae Kwon Do (which I wasn’t too awful at), but I always came back to dance. It was my only active outlet for the vast majority of my young life.
When I was in high school, I found something called Winter Guard. Most of you will have no idea what that is, and that’s okay. Many people are familiar with the Color Guard that usually follows the marching band around and does some dancey stuff with flags. Winter Guard is that on steroids. There is no band. It’s indoors (thank goodness!). And it is an entire performance that involves dance, flag, and weapon choreography. Here are some photos to give you an idea… one is a group shot of our guard during a flag portion of a show, and the other is a lovely/scary photo of me performing with my sabre (which is super grainy because it’s a picture of a picture that was in a Guard magazine).
Like any organized sport, it requires discipline, strength, coordination, and skill. And It… Is… Awesome! My dance background ended up snowballing into a love of Winter Guard. It was the first time I did anything that got me strong. But since it was so much fun (and I got to perform again!), I hardly even noticed my new muscles and strength!
After college, when all the dancing and “flag waving” as my grandma called it were over, I was at a loss for what to do to stay active. So I pretty much did nothing. I started graduate school, gained some weight, and decided I better do something to “fix” that. So I picked up a book called The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. I started the program just after the New Year in 2008.
That book was my introduction to lifting weights. I found my new fun active thing! While I originally picked it up because I wanted to lose weight, Lou’s writing prompted me to shift my focus onto something more fun and awesome: what my body could DO, rather than just how it looked. I really liked working on getting stronger. It was MUCH more fun than focusing on trying to get skinny or losing weight. I would set goals for myself that involved how much weight I could LIFT, not how much *I* weighed. It was incredibly empowering. I stuck with lifting for a long time, and it’s still one of my preferred ways to stay active. I *highly* recommend this book if you’re at all interested in lifting!
In 2014 I found my most recent fitness love-interest: aerial silks! Oh my goodness, talk about FUN! I finally found something that brought back all the grace, choreography, and performance of dance, but it added a strength element. This is actually what helped me to finally achieve my first chin-up! What’s even more awesome is that my husband and I can do it together. We took private lessons for six months and then did a duet performance. It was so much fun to work on it together, and see each other get better and better with practice. (The video is kind of long, and we were definitely beginners, but I figured I’d include the link if you were interested enough to see it.)
I also did a solo performance recently, on a slightly different apparatus called an aerial sling. In between the 2014 and 2016 performances I took some time off to have a baby, and then recover from having said baby! Even with the recovery time, it’s pretty obvious from the videos that I’m much stronger now than I was back in 2014. And that’s kind of the point! My body looks roughly the same, but what it can do (and especially what it DID between those two times) are very different. I’m pretty proud of this recent one, so check it out below!
Now that you have an idea of my overall fitness history, I figured I’d tell you what I’m currently doing.
I take an aerial class once or twice a week. Sometimes I also take a pole class at the same studio (don’t judge, it’s actually really tough!) I’m also currently doing a bodyweight gymnastic program that I’m able to do at home, as well as seizing every opportunity to take walks with my son in the nice sunny weather. All of these things are things that I ENJOY. With each of them, my goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s to get stronger, to get better at the movements I’m practicing! When the goal is about being MORE instead of being LESS, it’s MUCH more enjoyable![bctt tweet=”When the goal is about being MORE instead of being LESS, it’s MUCH more enjoyable!” username=”raisingnutritn”]
My fitness “routine” definitely isn’t something you’d find in a magazine. It’s not a template to follow, there are no sets and reps to recommend, and you likely won’t find a fitness pro that would give this as a program! But it works FOR ME. And to me, that’s all that matters.
If you’re looking to add some fitness into your life, the number one suggestion I can make to you is to find something you enjoy doing. It doesn’t matter what it is. Walk, run, bike, yoga, aerials,swim, zumba, weightlifting, martial arts, living room dance party, whatever! Find something you LIKE. That is the ONE thing that runs constant through all of my fitness journey – I enjoy the things I do.
Secondly:[bctt tweet=”Find reasons OTHER than weight loss to get more activity into your life.” username=”raisingnutritn”]
Think about things that exercise or movement can ADD to your life, rather than just using it as a tool to help lose weight. Or find a fitness goal instead of a weight goal – a distance you want to be able to work up to running to, or a weight you want to be able to deadlift, etc. I promise, focusing on the positives is much more fun! Here are the reasons I do the fun fitnessy things I wrote about above:
THESE are the reasons I’m active. And the things I do reflect that.
Find YOUR reasons to be active. Find what is FUN to you. Then go do it. You do not need to find the “perfect” exercise program. There is no perfect program! You simply need to start moving, and enjoy the process. And oh by the way, if walking is all you want to do, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not enough! It IS enough!
Now get out there and go have some fun! 🙂