Getting back in shape after 40
When I was in my late 20s, I biked to work, ran all the time, and even did a few triathlons. Fast forward to my 30s and three babies, working full-time, and running a household, and exercise took a back seat, I’m talking in the third-row of the minivan.
Now I find myself in my early 40s with three children, a full-time job, and a household to run. The only difference is that I’m finally feeling a real desire to get back into shape; to reclaim the athlete that I once was.
The problem is, I haven’t exercised consistently for over 10 years. I’ve had countless stops and starts. I’ve laced up my running shoes for so many “1st runs” and never got past a second. I’ve started 30 days of yoga only to get to day 4. There is always something that comes up and keeps me from continuing — someone gets sick, a pto meeting after work, a run to the grocery store for dinner.
But, after much reflection, I realized I’ve been approaching getting back in to shape all wrong. I’ve been diving in, expecting to be able to run 3 miles or commit to 30 days in a row of yoga. I’ve been ignoring the fact that I am completely exhausted at the end of each day. That I’m already pushing my body to the limit just doing what I have to do in a day.
Here seven tips for getting back in shape:
1. Start slow. When I work out using a video, I stick with the modified versions of the workout. You know, the woman in the corner who shows how to slow the move down for those of us who are out of shape. For years I’ve completely scoffed at and ignored that woman knowing that I was an athlete and could do anything. Now, I’ve finally realized that I need to be kind to my body. I’ll get there and move on to what the host is doing but it is going to take baby steps.
2. Find a program that takes the guess work out. One factor for me was when I did have the time to exercise, not being sure what exercise I should do. To remove that question and gain back some time, I found an exercise that I enjoy. I’m currently doing BeachBody Piyo. The beauty of something like this is it is all laid out in a calendar. So if it is Tuesday, I’m doing upper body, Friday is a rest day, etc.
3. Use an app. I’m also using the Nike+ App to get back into running. You can tell it how many miles you are currently doing and it will create a plan to help you get back on the road. I told it 0 miles (which was true, after all) and my plan is so simple that I find I can do it with doing the modified Piyo. This seems like a lot but the app is having me run for 10 minutes. The benefit for me is that I really want to get back to running and by starting so slowly, I know I won’t get burnt out.
4. Build in rest. I have struggled with fatigue and this is the most important thing to remember, you need to rest. I try to take epsom salt baths at least twice a week, and I nap whenever I get a spare 10 minutes. And, I have set a strict bed time of 9:30 for myself. That may seem ridiculously early but after about 3 months of sticking to it, I can’t tell you how much energy I have. By being well rested, you will improve your recovery time and you won’t be too exhausted to stick to your routine.
5. Don’t schedule your exercise time. This is counterintuitive to what most people will tell you but I find that when I say I am going to exercise at a certain time and then something keeps me from doing it, it just causes stress and frustration. My days are pretty unpredictable. I may be able to get up before anyone else and squeeze in some exercise but on the other hand, I may roll out my yoga mat only to hear someone yell “Mommy!”. Instead, I have committed to myself that exercising is a priority and then I take it day by day. If the morning is better, great, if I have to wait until the evening, no problem, and some days, I just go for a long walk at lunch.
6. Wear a tracker. This one is a real boost for most moms. Once I see how many steps I take in a regular day just by taking care of the kids, doing the laundry, going to work, grocery shopping, etc. I give myself a break on feeling like I have to do formal exercise every day.
7. Include yoga and tai-chi in your routine. These can be tough for competitive people who would rather bang out 10 miles or play a contact sport but the benefits are huge. You are not only benefiting your body but also your mind at the same time. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with fatigue.
8. Reward yourself. I try to give myself a treat once I’ve completed simiple goals. For example, if I work out consistently for a week, I’ll book myself a massage. Or buy myself a new pair of workout shorts.
9. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to your exercise every day. Acknowledge that you are trying and you are doing the very best you can. It isn’t easy juggling so many things and exercise should be fun, not one more thing on your to do list. Also, resting is just as important so if you just don’t have the energy, draw yourself a bath and pat yourself on the back for doing something good for yourself!
10. Start. No more excuses. Even if it is just a walk around the block. Get out there and get moving. You’ll feel so much better!
What’s your exercise routine?