As I See Fit: Have yourself a merry little workout

BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Finding a workout buddy can increase your motivation to exercise.

Finding a workout buddy can increase your motivation to exercise.

The holiday season is upon us.

It’s actually been encroaching since Oct. 1, but I am one of those people who refuse to acknowledge this season of celebration and chaos until Thanksgiving Day. After that, bring it on!

I’m happy that Mother Nature is being so cooperative and generous with her mild weather, which means more time for outdoor runs and leisurely walks before the winter chill sets in.

I’m aware that not everyone is happy about this. After all, with the countless extra things that we take on at the holidays, the very least the weather could do would be to grant us an excuse to stay in and skip working out, right? I mean, no one would expect you to brave the cold and sleet simply to get to the gym or risk slipping on the ice during a run, would they? You could end up with a twisted ankle if you go running and it’s icy out! A much better idea is to stay in where it’s warm and cozy, and where there are a million little things to do, right?

Now, now, now. You know we can’t do that. As tempting as it sounds to skip workout time in favor of holiday preparations, this is truly a very bad idea. And I’m here to tell you why.

Several columns ago, I wrote about the debilitating effects that stress can cause. It’s so ironic that when we feel pressed for time and under the gun, the one thing that can make us feel better is the very first thing to go.

Exercise has the very powerful ability to reshape more than our bodies. It can rejuvenate our minds, our energy levels and our ability to cope with all of the additional tasks that lie before us. It can help to fight depression and lethargy. I don’t know one single person who has felt worse after working out. And if you are that one person, please email me because then I can stop saying that!

When I write about working out and exercise, I want to make it very clear that I know my readers vary greatly in fitness levels, abilities and interests. So please adapt what I am saying to what your specific needs may be.

That being said, I don’t care if you are a runner, a walker, a yogi or a power lifter. At some point everyone has to talk themselves into getting it on with their workouts. It’s not always easy to fit it in, yet for many of us, life seems so much more difficult if we do give in and skip that workout. There are no endorphins to boost us up, we may be missing that adrenaline kick, and then there is that nagging and persistent guilt that makes us feel even worse about ourselves.

Admit it — you talk to yourself much more harshly than you would EVER talk to one of your friends. So knock it off. Don’t get in that position in the first place.

And don’t worry so much about weight loss right now. Focus on staying steady, staying sane and maintaining your fitness level.

I have a few tips for you now, and in the next column I’ll break it down with some quick but effective exercises that can be easily modified and adapted for ALL fitness levels. So get up, get ready and get rid of that nagging inner voice.

  • • There are two times that are proven to be more effective in maintaining an exercise program: first thing in the morning or directly after work. Choose one that fits into your schedule. Be ready to switch to the other if conflicts arise.

• Change your mindset and make exercise a PRIORITY in your day, just like all of the other things. Instead of making it the first thing to go when you are under the gun, accept that everything else will get done with more energy and mindful awareness if you actually DO exercise. Don’t eliminate it. Trust me on this.

• Are you exhausted? Lethargic? Lacking in energy and motivation? GET THEE TO A GYM! Or a pool, playground or sidewalk. It doesn’t matter! Just exercise! You will get back all of the energy you are missing and then some! You can do some Tabata sets for 4 ½ minutes and feel much better. You already know this!

• Grab a friend, neighbor or child and make a commitment to honor that time together. You can socialize and motivate each other. And you will most likely laugh, which is also much needed right about now.

• Do something that you enjoy. Swim at one of the indoor facilities, play tennis, go for a walk downtown or on campus, run on the river trail or at Clinton Lake. Just move. Get your heart rate up. And enjoy doing something that is 110 percent good for you!

— Jennifer Osborn can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

Tagged: exercise, holidays, stress, As I See Fit

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