Finding motivation to get regular exercise requires an evolving strategy and the help of other people, at least for me. What worked great for me last month might not work at all this week.
Our challenge at every stage of life is to work with what we’ve got. That means the ongoing changes of menopause, plus a nagging pain in one hip and my lower back, and allergies, currently. If I wait until I feel perfectly, I could maybe squeeze in a workout or two a year.
At the beginning of this journey, I noted that it is easier for me to show up for a commitment to someone else than it is to keep that promise to myself. This has always bugged me, but I’m over it. Who cares? If it is easier for me to get exercise if I have a workout buddy, then I need to get some workout buddies and quit beating myself up over some impossibly perfect ideal in my head. And it goes both ways, so it’s not like I’m just mooching off someone’s motivation when I have none of my own. It’s a two-way street and we both benefit.
I’ve got a couple of grandsons, and here is one insanely hard workout if you’re interested. This works with both my older and younger grandcritters, or best of all, the three of us together. Start out by gathering weights, toys like jump rope and resistance bands, bottles of water and towels to mop up the sweat. You take turns coming up with exercises: So maybe grandma says 10 push-ups, then grandkid says 20 mountain climbers (or invents some crazy move with no name). By taking turns, you don’t know what’s coming next. Set a timer for an hour and play with the kids, and I guarantee they will work you out. This works great also with what we like to call crazy dancing: Each of you in turn makes up a dance move and then the others copy it. Ever tried to copy the dance moves of a six-year-old? Believe me when I tell you it’s a serious workout.
I also really enjoy playing basketball, and am thinking about starting a weekly game in Edgewood—if anybody is interested, get in touch with me and let’s see if we can pull something regular together to run around the court and shoot some baskets. When I say “game” I exaggerate somewhat. I like to fool around but don’t ask me to keep score or to always remember to dribble or keep track of whose team I’m on. (My favorite thing is a win-win, which is not always practical in sports.) For me, it’s all about supporting each other in exercise and having some fun at the same time.
You know how they say park your car at the far end of the parking lot so you get some steps in when you go grocery shopping? That also applies to going to an event like the Earth Day Festival at La Montañita in Albuquerque over the weekend, when we had to park about a half a mile away and up a very steep hill. I’m still sore, and the look my daughter gave me when I jokingly suggested she go pick up the car and come get me was priceless.
But that experience really got to the nub of all this for me perfectly.
This has been a rough winter and spring for me in terms of working out. I’ve struggled with cigarette addiction and smoked way too many of them. I’ve had allergies and the flu. Blah blah blah. What happens when you do that is lost ground. So as we were walking up that wicked hill yesterday, and sitting to take a break in the middle (where I cracked my joke) I’m thinking that I feel like my grandmother. My hip hurts, my back hurts. It would be easier to ride in a car than hike up that hill.
But sitting in a car up hills (and all day at work every day) is why I feel like this in the first place, right? And I don’t know how you feel, but I want to be the super cool grandmother who can lift weights, dance until I drop, go rock climbing and paddle boarding, play sports with my grandsons, and hike up steep hills. Physical fitness is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition no matter what age and what level of fitness a person is.
So my ever-evolving new plan is this: Whatever works! A few workout buddies, planning some regular stuff like basketball, and going with the flow when an opportunity for exercise presents itself are all better options than sitting on a bench hoping to be rescued from walking. No matter how steep the hill.