In the months that I’ve been writing this column, somehow I forgot about where I started, and my plan to make working out fun. I was reminded of that strategy last week, when I drove into town to go to a climbing gym there for the third time.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of driving in to Albuquerque all the time. In fact, I regularly joke about kicking and screaming my way through the canyon when I do have to run an errand there, which is rarely. I can go months at a time without setting foot inside the city limits.

That’s why it’s a bit of a big deal for me to go to the climbing gym, which is at Carlisle Boulevard and the freeway, for the third time in three months. And that’s what reminded me about my plan—left by the wayside somewhere along the way.

That plan was to find ways to be active that are so much fun that they don’t feel like work.

Remember my basketball? It’s been ages since I had that thing out. Same for running on the high school track, which I enjoyed, and even my old standby, crazy dancing. How could I have let this happen?

It was such a good plan I can’t believe that it slipped away as the weeks went by.

It was a combination of factors.

One, I’ve tried hard to sample various classes around the area, in hopes of finding something that works with my very hectic and constantly-changing schedule. So far I haven’t really found one. So even classes that I love, like yoga, have been very hard to fit into my schedule.

I’ve also sampled other classes that I enjoyed, like Zumba and an adult dance class in Moriarty. Both were fun, and I have had a really, really, hard time working them into my schedule on a weekly basis.

There are some classes that I would like to try out, as fodder for this column and to see what I like to do. But somehow, some way, it turned into a chore, something I started to avoid.

Now it hasn’t all been bad news. Turns out I really like weight lifting, and my daughter is a terrific gym buddy. We’ve had pretty good success getting to the gym at least once a week, sometimes twice.

And it turns out that I like that climbing gym enough to jump on the freeway at rush hour and drive into the teeth of Albuquerque. But that was what reminded me of my plan.

One of the things I figured out about my own mental process early on is that I would find it very easy to back out of a commitment that I had made to myself—like say, to work out at the gym at 6 p.m. on Monday. The time rolls around and suddenly I can think of a million reasons why it really would be okay if I skipped out this time.

When the workout is so much fun that the desire to do that activity outweighs the desire not to work out, Shazam! I make it, do it, follow through. For example, I could swim all day long, and never have the thought “exercise” enter my mind. I just think it’s fun, and I want to do it for as long as I can.

Playing with my grandsons is the same. Running around playing with little kids is fun, and I’m not thinking about calories, and whether or not I’m in shape, or how much longer I have to play with them before I can quit. I’m just having fun.

It’s a sound plan.

It seems almost every week like my column is me reminding myself of what I said two, or four, or six months ago. Okay that actually probably has been most of what this column is about. But isn’t that the way it goes? This week, for example, my schedule is out the window again with a holiday, my diet is out the window again because it’s Thanksgiving, and I will have some pumpkin pie and other yummy things to eat.

Over and over and over, I have to remind myself.

Here’s the up-side: It is getting easier. And because there is one rule I have held pretty steadfastly—no beating myself up—I just keep going back to Step 1. I’ll keep doing that as many times as needed.

My aim is to make a lasting lifestyle change. I am working to change habits built over decades. I do not expect magic. I know what I’m talking about here is work and I’m in this for the long haul. So this week, my goal is to find some ways to have fun while active over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Since I’ll have all four of my kids, plus both grandsons, visiting for the holiday, that should work.

What strategies do you use to keep yourself on track with fitness and health? You can contact me at 505-286-1212 or [email protected] Or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]