Please keep in mind, I am just a random mom and woman in her late (eek!) thirties trying to get in shape and/or feel better about myself. Although I played a competitive sport in high school, I don’t consider myself to be an athletic adult. I want to share my story because I have been very inspired in the past by stories of women who get in shape. However, I feel like their exercise plans are usually way too intense for me. I have poor endurance (jogging a mile is usually hard for me), and some health issues (hypothyroid and endometriosis) that I feel have always limited my physical capabilities. I’m also a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have tons of time to devote to exercise, but still wants (hopes) to see results. I have made some very positive breakthroughs with low impact cardio, and I’d love to share more about that with you below.
Back in June, I saw a picture of myself and I didn’t like the way I looked in it. I was hiding behind a loose fitting blouse and a jacket to conceal a very squishy midsection. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel confident.
Since I maintain an Instagram account, I have quite a few photos of myself (usually playing with my daughter). I’m normally not one to be too self-critical. I have my moments, but I try to go easier on myself. I’ve dealt with physical and mental health issues throughout the years and being “kind” to myself helps me get through my days.
However, in that moment, looking at that photo, I wondered, “Am I being ‘kind’ to myself or am I neglecting myself?”
I decided to get on the scale the next day and confirmed that I had indeed gained some weight. Not a ton of weight, but enough to make it uncomfortable for me to fit in most of my pants. The bigger issues for me, beyond the number on the scale, were that (1) I didn’t like the way I looked/felt and (2) I couldn’t remember the last time I felt good about my body (3) I felt sluggish and it felt like my digestive issues/endometriosis/thyroid issues were flaring quite often.
I needed to figure out a plan.
I immediately jumped on the treadmill like I usually do when I am trying to get back in shape. But, going on the treadmill hadn’t proven to help me much in the past. I am not a good runner and usually default to doing brisk walks. It was boring. It was uninspired. I would barely break a sweat. I needed something new.
I started to think about my biggest pitfalls in the past. I would always start off strong and, for some reason or another, fall off. I had been in that loop for TWENTY years.
How could I change this pattern?
I am very excited to share that it has been about three months, and I have been able to maintain consistent workouts! I don’t see an end in sight. It’s not always every single day. I miss days and try to just accept it and move on. It has taken some research and some soul searching, but here’s how I’ve done it.
Start Low and Slow
This has been my golden rule for maintaining consistency. In the past, every time I start an exercise regimen in the past, I always go too hard. I choose HIIT workouts that I can’t finish. If I do somehow finish, I feel nauseous and terrible. I thought that I had to feel awful in order to get any type of results. I thought that barely being able to walk the next door due to sore muscles was a positive thing.
I was wrong.
Instead of searching for “workouts that burn tons of calories” I searched for “low impact cardio workouts with no jumping”. (I’ve found a lot of jumping makes me dizzy and then I don’t want to finish the workout for fear of throwing up. Maybe I’m just not in good enough shape yet?) I stumbled across Fitness Blender workouts on YouTube. Fitness Blender has been an amazing resource. And it’s free. Yes, FREE. I have been switching up and trying different low impact cardio Fitness Blender workouts on YouTube. Some are ten minutes long, but most are closer to thirty minutes. The perfect amount of time for me! Many of their workouts also require no equipment.
Fitness Blender has been a game changer. I can’t stress enough how much their workouts have helped me. Last month, I decided to join their website and splurge on their four week low impact cardio plan for $9.99. So far, it’s been great! I will give an update about that at another time, but I can’t stress their free workouts enough.
Nix a Set Workout Time
I do not have a set time that I work out each day. My goal is simply to work out most days for at least twenty minutes. Whether it is early in the morning before my daughter wakes up or late at night after my husband gets home, I fit my workout in. Not having a set time seems to help me mentally.
I realize a lot of people thrive on getting their workouts in first thing in the morning. For me, that just never seemed to work. As a busy mom, my days tend to vary. Also, as someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, my moods vary, too. Some mornings, I may need to sleep in or choose to take it slower. If I skip a morning workout, I don’t feel defeated because I know I will work out later.
Get an Apple Watch (or Integrate Accountability in Some Other Form)
My husband gifted me an Apple watch for my birthday and it has been another game changer. For the first few weeks of Apple watch ownership, I had no idea how to use it. I didn’t know what it meant to “close the rings” and I didn’t even wear it consistently. Once I figured out what the rings meant and how to close them, I was hooked. It has awakened the inner competitor in me, and I try to meet my ring goals every day. I need to work on my steps. I almost never reach 10k steps in a day. There are so many smart watches on the market today. If it’s not an Apple watch, find a tracking device that works for you.
Although accountability doesn’t have to be an expensive device. When I first started working out, I would send my husband sweaty selfies with the joking hashtag “summerbod”. My husband responded with positive reinforcement and it helped me to stay accountable. Find a friend or spouse who will support you in your new workout plan.
Watch Your Diet but Don’t Go Crazy
In the past, my health kicks usually involved increased workouts and diet change. I think, for me, it was too much. This time around, I haven’t gone crazy making big sweeping changes to my diet. Granted this hasn’t helped the scale move. I haven’t lost much weight (if any), and I have grappled with that. Working out has made me inevitably more hungry. I am trying to eat sensibly. I am not restricting right now. I never do well with restricting, and I need energy for my workouts.
At the risk of sounding super corny, I am trusting the process. I think I will eventually look closer at my diet, but, for now, I am happy with my current progress. My clothes fit better. I haven’t taken measurements, but I know I have lost some “squishiness” in my midsection.
Trusting the process has been tough at times. I have had days where I feel like I am accomplishing nothing or actually backtracking. I wonder why I am pushing myself, when I don’t look like a whole new me. However, I know what I am doing is good for me – mentally and physically. I know that I am slowly but surely working toward my goals. I know that I am pushing against twenty years of ups and downs, and I don’t want to land in the same place I always do. I want change.