Do exercise you enjoy and incorporate it into your daily life
The old adage “if you don’t use it, you lose it” definitely applies to fitness. I have been out of shape many times, but I also become fit once again. You do not have to lose it forever. My theory is once you have enjoyed a level of fitness that allows you to participate in desired activities, you may lose it temporarily when life happens but you can find your way back. If you are like me, it may be cyclical.
While going through some personal challenges, I found comfort in keeping to a consistent fitness routine. Four days at home stretching, followed by cardio and three days at the gym working upper body and squatting my weight to work my leg muscles. This routine made mountain hiking with a 40-pound pack easy, canoeing against headwinds possible, and much more. My adult nieces would complain, “Slow down.”
After separating from my partner, I lived with my sister. I lost my exercise habits, patterns, routines, and gym access. Moving into my own house, I again dedicated a room to exercise. Wearing my grungiest workout clothes, I refused to shower or change clothes until I completed my yoga, stretching, and cardio routine. This tricked me into a consistent habit. Cardio then was my exercise bike or my mini-trampoline.
Years later in a one-bedroom apartment, exercise gear is part of my decor. My busy schedule demands I multi-task. I bounce on my trampoline swinging kettlebells. A tense movie makes me bounce faster or phone calls help me reach my daily 10,000 step goal. My two-pound hula hoop allows easy access for quick shimmies during a romantic comedy.
On prolonged desk-time days, I move my Bosu ball to my path to the kitchen. Bouncing on and off wakes up my brain to realize I just needed movement, not food. Our brains dull like a city-wide power outage after 30 minutes of sitting, whereas after just 20 minutes of walking our brain looks like fireworks.
The ball also maintains my ability to balance. I recall in one of my lost fitness phases, becoming aware my stride stepping on and off sidewalks was jerky, requiring a pause and even wavering to catch myself. That loss renewed my dedication to exercise.
Our large leg muscles stabilize us when we lose our balance. Squats are a great way to work those large leg muscles. Start easy, start slow. Integrate daily squats by grasping your kitchen sink with both hands, then sit back on an invisible chair. Day one, do one. If your quadriceps and hamstrings are pain-free the next day, try two squats. After grasping the sink counter edge becomes easy, try wall squats first imagining a bar stool, working your way down the wall if your legs feel strong enough to sit lower.
This summer, I hiked to Mount Carlyle. The guide chose the route with the best views and the steepest altitude gain. Forced to admit my deteriorated fitness level failed to match this trip and group, I will not give away costly hiking equipment just because Mac, whom my friend called donkey legs, helped. He would jog ahead, drop his pack, and jog back to take my gear up the steep inclines. If, like me, you are missing a former enjoyable activity, do not rush to give it up. Make a plan with a health and fitness coach to restore those muscles. Check out biohacking research. I AM hiking Mount Robson next year.
Take it slow, be safe, and find exercise routines that appeal to you, and that work in your environment. Make the time AND make it stare you in the face when you tiptoe to the fridge. It works for me.
Featured Image: Rusti Lehay shows how she fits her exercise equipment in her home. | Rusti Lehay