5 Easy Workout Ideas For When You Don’t Feel Like Exercising

5 Easy Workout Ideas - mostlyfitmom.com

This weekend, did bury yourself in a novel while parked on the couch, spending your weekend in a lethargic fog? Or perhaps you found yourself binge-watching Season 5 of The Good Wife? Just me?

I’m all for honouring your body and listening to what it’s saying, but sometimes, it’s not really a tired body you’re listening to: it’s your mind being tricksy.

Now, if you’ve been skimping on sleep because you’ve had work deadlines to meet or dance competitions to run your kids to, then the answer is likely that you’re in need of a little extra shut-eye. You deserve a good night’s rest. Tonight, treat yourself the way you would your sleep-deprived child and be firm about your bedtime. Plan for an excellent night’s sleep by powering down your electronics at least an hour before bedtime, taking time to write out everything you have on your mind so that it won’t keep you awake, making sure your bedroom is nice and cool, and listening to a sleep meditation or some relaxing music at bedtime. If you’re using your phone for meditation or music, set it to “Do Not Disturb” and make sure that you won’t be disturbed by light from the screen by flipping it upside down.

If you’ve been getting some solid zzz’s in that 7 to 9 hour range and know that your lack of energy isn’t so much due to tiredness as it is Couch Potato Syndrome, be honest with yourself about it, but be kind to yourself, too. Take some time to ask yourself why you’ve been slack about physical activity. No calling yourself names or making nasty comments about your body. Be honest with yourself, and be your own friend.

Once you’ve sorted yourself out, and maybe said a few nice things to it, like, “I feel energetic when I move my body,” “My body gets stronger when I exercise,” or “I always make time to take care of my body,” take action to overcome your inertia and get moving.

Easy Ideas for Physical Activity

1. Commit to 10 minutes of physical activity. If you want to stop after those 10 minutes, give yourself permission to stop. It’s really okay. Once you’re done your workout, whether it’s 10 minutes or more, pat yourself on the back.

2. Pick an activity you enjoy. It’s been really windy around here lately and I feel sandblasted every time I go for a walk outside, so I’ve been avoiding my walks (and choosing the couch). It’s okay to do something different and play. Dig out an exercise DVD, ride your old stationary bike, climb the stairs in your house, find some free yoga or other fitness videos online, throw on your favourite music and dance around your living room, pretend it’s the ’80s and do some Jane Fonda-style aerobics to a Songza playlist, head to the gym, lift some free weights. Whatever it is, choose something that you’ll find fun.

3. Go for a walk around the block. How much simpler can you get? Turn your face to the sun, listen to your iPod, focus on how good it feels to be outside. If your feet take you farther than a block, that’s great. If not, that’s cool, too.

4. Reward yourself for working out. Hey, I’m not above bribery. Treat yourself to something lovely after your workout. It might be a hot bath with those citrus bath salts you’ve been saving, that episode of Outlander you’ve got on your PVR, or fresh polish on your nails. Whatever floats your boat and makes seems worthwhile to you.

5. Ask for help to be accountable for your workout. Sometimes it feels really hard to get moving and you feel like you want a little extra motivation to make sure you accomplish what you say you want to do. Talk to your husband, call your sister, or e-mail your co-worker and let her know that you plan to workout today (bonus points if you’re specific about what you’re doing, for how long, and at what time). Tell her you’ll let her know once you’ve finished your workout, and then ask her to follow up with you if you haven’t contacted her by, say, 9pm. Heck, you can even leave a comment on this blog and I’ll follow up with you, if you want.

Whatever your obstacles to working out, know that you are not alone. I definitely get into slumps (like right now) where exercising feels like the last thing I want to do, even though I know that I will feel better after I do it. Our brains are funny that way.

Do you have a go-to workout for when you just don’t feel like working out?

Why I Avoid Exercise: Confessions of a Discouraged Mom

Why I Avoid Exercise - mostlyfitmom.com

My life is so full right now. I’m working on a blogging course and a business course, and my work schedule has been back-to-back, which is awesome. My kids were with my parents for a few days, so I got in a yoga class, went out for dinner with my husband, and enjoyed a movie date with my favourite man another night (although, truly, I did not enjoy Insurgent, which is what we saw. It was that or Furious 7, which I’m sure would have been worse).

I don’t think I’ve watched T.V. for about 5 days, which is pretty awesome, and I haven’t spent more than 15 minutes a day on Facebook. This has definitely helped me make room in my life for the stuff that I’ve been doing, which has been infinitely more energizing than whatever it is that I could have found to watch on Netflix.

What I have neglected – and it’s a pattern for me – is exercise. I absolutely know I feel better when I’m moving my body, and I absolutely had time to engage in fitness activities, but I chose instead to work through my courses.

The question I have to ask myself is why have I avoided exercise? What thoughts are coming up when I consider going for a walk or practicing some yoga? What feelings have I been experiencing when I think about fitting in some fitness?

When I examined my thoughts, I realized that I think that developing my mind is more important than working out and working on my body, that worrying about how fit I am or how my body looks is frivolous. Plus, I’ve had so much trouble maintaining a healthy weight in the past, I’ve had the thought that by avoiding exercise by increasing my knowledge, I can justify being heavier and not being successful in losing weight because learning is always worthwhile. I fear that I will put effort into working out and will not lose weight yet again, and this will support the idea that I’m a failure, which creates a feeling of shame. I also have the thought that working out won’t be worth as much to me as learning something new, because fitness doesn’t really pay off from a financial perspective. (Except it can if it affects my health and ability to work.)

This is interesting, because I realize that my identity is wrapped up in the idea that I’m smart and know a lot. I have underlying insecurity related to my intelligence, even though by pretty much any measure, I am a full-on smarty pants. I feel like I have to be smart to be worthy and to get approval – from my parents (yes, I am approaching 40 and still care about approval from my parents). Huh, who knew those thoughts were all in there?

As I let these thoughts roll around in my mind, I’m considering what thoughts I’d prefer to think when it comes to working out and being fit.

  • Fitness is important to me (this is true)
  • I make time for those things that are important to me (this is true)
  • I want to make fitness a bigger part of my life (also true)
  • Fitness increases my health and sense of well-being (yes)
  • Choosing to exercise instead of developing my mind will benefit me in the long run because I will live longer, be healthier, and have a better quality of life, which will allow me to have better mental functioning (makes sense)
  • I can choose to develop my mind when I’m exercising – thought I don’t have to – by listening to educational podcasts (absolutely)
  • It is okay to put my physical fitness ahead of my knowledge and education, because my health and fitness are currently a greater priority than how much I know, and because the time I require to work out still allows me the time to pursue my intellectual interests (you bet)
  • I can care about how my body feels and looks without it being shallow or vain (truth)

I’m going to let these thoughts – all of them – percolate for awhile and I’ll be curious about what other anti-exercise thoughts I might have tucked away in my mighty mind.

Do you struggle to fit in fitness? What thoughts are holding you back? Or, conversely, what thoughts make it easy for you to make fitness a priority? Please let me know in the comments section below. I really want to hear your exercise-related stories.

Yoga Explorations: 5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga

5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga - mostlyfitmom.comI am a yoga newbie. I am not super-flexible, my heels are off the ground in downward dog, and I still don’t really understand the etiquette of where to put my mat in the room when I’m at a yoga studio. How close is too close and how far is too far? Trying to get into crow pose scares me because I feel like I’m going to land on my face, and forget about grabbing my feet or ankles in bow pose. The front of my body is just too tight to pull that off. I love forward folds, struggle with twists due to major thoracic inflexibility, and can barely interlace my fingers behind my back because my chest is so tight. I also get irritated in a very non-yogic way if I don’t like an instructor’s voice or cuing. I love hot yoga, dislike doing yoga with my kids around because I find it hard to tune them out, struggle to tie up my hair so that I’m not lying on a lump of ponytail during shavasana, and practice at home the majority of the time. I know that yoga has a more spiritual aspect, but I haven’t really gone there at all.

In January, I practiced yoga daily. I was part of Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge and I signed up for a 30 day introductory pass at Moksha Yoga, too. I made it to about four classes at Moksha, a hot yoga studio, over the course of the month and loved it, but found it super-challenging to fit into my schedule. I’m a mom with a fairly full calendar, so a two-hour block is a luxury for me, and I sometimes had to question whether spending those two hours on a one-hour practice was worth it. I really enjoyed the daily practice, though, and having been practicing regularly ever since.

As a working mom, my schedule isn’t terribly flexible. My work hours are pretty set as a dentist because patients get booked in sometimes months in advance, and really, at this point in my life, building up my dental practice is a higher priority than making it to yoga classes. At the same time, I know that my body is healthier and fitter when I practice yoga and I am making a conscious effort to get onto my mat regularly. Here are several reasons to make yoga part of your life, too.

  1. Your back will feel better. So many of us sit in the same position all day long, crunched over, barely breathing or moving. Yoga is a remedy for my slumped posture and forces me to uncrumple my spine, which makes my back healthier and happier and helps release the tension in the muscles of my shoulders, neck, and back.
  2. Yoga helps you manage stress. Yoga is all about being present in your body. It’s not about the 20 tasks you have on your to-do list, the fact that you’ve got to get your daughter to hockey practice by 7pm, or what you’re going to take out of the freezer for supper tomorrow. You are breathing deeply, checking into your body, and letting go of the mental chatter, and that is a recipe for increased happiness.
  3. Yoga increases flexibility and that’s good for preventing injury. I’ve been struggling with running injuries off and on for the past few years. I know it’s related to my glute and core strength, but I also have seriously tight hip flexors and a super-tight chest, which can make it hard to stride properly and makes it really hard for my back muscles and glutes to function properly. I’ve found yoga to be an active way to work on those tight areas in a way that’s more fun and feels more satisfying than just stretching.
  4. You deserve time to take care of yourself. It is becoming clearer to me how important it is to put my health and fitness at the top of my priority list. If I let myself get stiff and weak, I won’t be able to practice dentistry, pay off my business loan, and help support my family. That’s a recipe for stress right there, isn’t it? Plus, if I stop moving and plunk myself down on the couch all the time, what kind of example is that setting for my kids? “Hey kids, sitting on your butt while you watch TV for hours is A-okay.” Not exactly the behaviour that I want to model for them. You’ve probably read articles encouraging women to put themselves first, that say we have to take care of ourselves to be able to care for those that we love. I agree. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help those around you, and sometimes your work schedule and mom-guilt can get in the way of that. Taking care of your family is a priority for many women, but, that being said, you have the right to do it FOR YOURSELF, and not for anyone else. You are worth it. The challenge even greater than finding the time is believing that you’re worth it.
  5. Yoga makes you stronger. Plank, chaturanga, downward dog, arm balances, and warrior II are all poses that challenge my strength, depending on how many repetitions we’re talking about and how long each pose is held. When I started strength training again a few weeks ago, I was sure that I was going to have lost a ton of strength since the last time I was really lifting, but I was pleasantly surprised at how heavy the weights needed to be to be challenging, and I’m sure that it’s related to the fact that I’ve been practicing yoga. I’m about 50 pounds overweight right now, and just about the only benefit I can think of is that my muscles have had to support that extra weight during yoga, which has made me pretty strong.

I sense that as I continue to practice yoga, my reasons for doing so will shift. I feel like yoga can be what I need when I need it, that it’s continually changing as I change. Right now, practicing at home several times a week is what works for me, but in the future, well, I am working on being present, so we’ll see where yoga takes me.

Do you practice yoga? What are your reasons? Do you have any advice for a newbie?

Practicing Workout Consistency

Practice Workout Consistency - mostlyfitmom.comYesterday was a low energy day. I woke up early, got my workout gear on, wrapped myself in blankets, and sat on the couch until everyone else got up hours later. I watched TV until it was too late to do anything else and took my daughter to hockey practice. After a quick lunch courtesy of a stop at Safeway, I just kept eating even though I wasn’t hungry, until I realized what I really was was tired and looking for energy. I laid down for a nap and drifted in and out of sleep, occasionally woken by my kids checking in on me and the noises they made downstairs. I awoke feeling only marginally more rested and even more sluggish. Again I looked to snacks for a boost and it didn’t work. The end result was that I ended up feeling ashamed of my lack of will power, because I knew exactly what I was doing as I was mindlessly directing Date and Walnut Mini Crisps into my mouth.

I had to snap out of it. I followed my own advice and got ready to work out. Redemption would be in the form of the stationary bike followed by yoga. I turned away from the TV, cranked some music to get into the mood, got back into my workout gear,  filled my water bottle, and got my sweat on. It didn’t hurt that I got to watch the new episode of The Walking Dead that I’ve been waiting for since last year while I pedaled.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: consistency is a struggle for me and it’s totally mental. Mental, as in crazy that I can recognize my consistency struggle and still struggle so much, and mental, as in it’s all about my mindset.

Changing my mindset is possible. I know that. I have done it in other areas of my life, so why not with my energy levels and workouts? Over the remaining weeks of winter, when I know that my energy levels will need a little help, I am going to consciously shift my thoughts from, “I’m so tired and don’t have any energy” to “Moving my body gives me energy” and “Listening to music gives me a boost.”

Day 21 of 30: My Legs are Rubber

I’m in bed. It’s 9:30pm. I’m feeling a migraine coming on, but just took a couple of Advil and promise I’m going right to sleep as soon as I post this.

I’ve been feeling lousy the past several days. Could be a mild virus, or the fact that it’s been full-on winter cold here, or that I basically don’t see the sun at all, or that I’ve been working hard lately. Whatever. I just feel blah.

Well, I had a session scheduled with my trainer tonight, and even though I felt dead tired, I sure didn’t cancel. It was just what I needed to get my body going.

It was a tough workout. 2 separate circuits of 4 exercises, with each circuit repeated 4 times. It was all legs and included plyometrics. My heart rate was crazy high and my legs are now rubber. So, basically, it was great. Love that feeling, even though I know that trying to sit down on Saturday is going to be killer.

So now I’ve got a major headache, but I’m chalking that up more so to hormones and the sinus/tension headache that’s been nagging all week, and not so much to my workout. Basically, it’s time to invest in a humidifier and a visit to my massage therapist.

Leg workouts: love ’em or hate ’em?



Day 2 of 30: Consistency Will be the Key

My workout today was on the stationary bike. 5 minute warmup, 20 minutes at a moderate/hard pace, 5 minute cooldown.

I drank enough water, took my Vitamin D and acidiophilus, and recorded what I ate.

I have trouble with consistency, so meeting my goals two days in a row is…a good thing.

Tomorrow, I’ll be working out with a personal trainer, unless she has to reschedule due to her work. That will be three days in a row, which is a streak. Whether or not my personal trainer shows up, I will be working out tomorrow afternoon. I won’t leave it until 10pm like I did tonight.

Consistency is not really exciting, but it is important. Without consistency, I won’t get fitter and I’ll be kicking myself later for failing to meet my goals. I know the occasional slip-up is normal and I have to prepare myself for that. I know that I will disappoint myself and I will have to get past that feeling and the associated shame and get back to healthy living right away. I know this because I have disappointed myself over and over again over the last twenty years, and I have convinced myself, I think, that I can’t make a healthy lifestyle and weight loss permanent. Consistency may be the only way to change the belief I have that I can’t change.



If the Sweatpants Fit…

After rummaging my way through the pantry after supper, chowing down on some popcorn and a Coffee Crisp, and then procrastinating on my workout, I finally hopped onto the stationary bike tonight. Glad that I did, although I just couldn’t get into my workout groove tonight. A meh workout is still better than no workout.

Despite the mental obstacles my brain was throwing up, I managed to talk myself into doing some cardio. What got me onto the bike finally was this: I wore sweatpants at work yesterday. I’m a dentist, so people likely just thought that they were scrubs, but I knew. Why did I wear sweatpants and why is this a big deal? Well, I typically wear comfy clothes to and from work, and change into  dressier pants to work in. This keeps the bacteria, saliva, and blood I’m exposed to at the office, because I change back into my comfy clothes at the end of the day before I head home to my family. Yesterday, I packed a clean pair of work pants to wear, but when I got to the office, I realized that they were too small so the sweatpants I was wearing were the pants I was going to have to work in. Flash to Regina George in Mean Girls: “These sweatpants are the only thing that fits me right now.” Not a good feeling to know that I’ve grown out of my “healthy weight” pants.

Gotta take motivation where you can get it, even if it is sweatpants.