By Anna Grotevant, MS, RD, LDN
I have been an on-and-off exerciser all my life. Mostly, I’ve been a runner. I’ve run 5 half marathons and countless smaller races since I started in college (over 10 years ago, my goodness!)
This is me in the Newport, RI half in 2015
The problem with running races is that my exercise level went up and down dramatically depending on my race schedule. If nothing was on the horizon, I could be completely inactive. I dabbled in yoga, exercise videos, walking, cycling, I even went to a Crossfit gym once, but nothing really stuck.
Between working full time and the rest of what comes with a busy life, time might be considered a barrier, but to be quite honest, I found time to do a lot of things on a daily or weekly basis that were less important to me than staying healthy. I’ve never missed an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I’ve never turned down the opportunity to grab a bite and a drink after work. I spend at least 30 minutes a day looking at various social media sites. So what gives?
I was looking for big barriers. Time. Motivation. Mood. But do you want to know what was actually getting in the way?
One night I was looking at the free weights and exercise bike we have sitting in our spare room, and I decided I would just do a quick workout in my pajamas. Seriously- no fancy sports bar, lycra or even shoes. Just my baggy sweat pants, old t-shirt and bare feet. I did about 15 minutes and was done. The next night was the same, but a little longer. Twenty minutes on the bike and 10 minutes of strength training.
That was 6 weeks ago, and I am astonished to say that I’ve actually exercised most nights since then. The only thing that has changed is that I’ve dropped the work out clothes requirement. As it turns out, I hate changing into work out clothes. They’re somewhat uncomfortable. I never felt like it was “worth it” if I wasn’t running a few miles. The barrier of changing my clothes was preventing me from doing anything at all. Go figure!
The purpose of this story isn’t necessarily for you to follow my exact lead. You might like your workout clothes, or find working out in hot sweat pants sounds awful, and that’s fine! My true message is this: you don’t have to be perfect to make progress. I never felt that a workout I could do in my PJs was truly a workout, but guess what? It is! A 30 minute, at home, non-vigorous workout might not seem like “enough” but it’s 100% better than what I was doing before (nothing, ha!).
So what can you do to take one step forward? What self-imposed (yet artificial) barriers can you remove to free yourself up for progress? Leave a comment to declare it to the world!
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