Life happens. It’s not an excuse.

Life happens. Don't let that be an excuse.

So, you’re in a rhythm. Working out four or five times a week, exactly on schedule. You’re eating right most of the time. Keeping your food journal and watching those calories. You’re getting plenty of sleep and meditating from time to time to keep the stress at bay.

And then things are scheduled three days in a row and you don’t exercise. Or the dog got sick and you had to rush him to the vet after work when you usually work out. Or you had to stop at the grocery store and the lines were a mile long.

Your living partner brings in a treat that’s too delectable to pass up. Or he / she made a dish that they were so proud of that you absolutely could not turn down.

You listened to the news or read an article that kept your brain working all night long. Two hours of sleep.

You fell off the wagon

Life happens. It’s not an excuse.

It happens to everyone. You’re not special. You’re not immune from life.

So what? You didn’t exercise for three days in a row. You ate a few extra calories. you can’t un-eat them – there’s no going back in time. Or you lost some sleep. No big deal.

Don’t make that an excuse

Life happens. Get back on the wagon. Get back to your regularly scheduled routine.

Don’t make not exercising or eating a few extra calories an excuse to stay off the wagon.

I’ve heard it too often: What’s the use? If I work out today, it won’t make up for the days I lost.

That doesn’t matter. If you wait another couple of days, you’ll be sore in the following days, your energy will be low, you’ll have trouble completing the workout.

You are an exerciser! You’ve built up that habit over months. Don’t spoil that now. Don’t change that habit. You just had an interruption. Get back on that treadmill. Or stick that DVD in the player. Change into your workout gear.

And those extra calories? They don’t matter now. Devote your energy to making healthy choices today.

Read another post about motivation.

Sometimes it’s just hard

No matter the motivation, the inspiration, sometimes it’s just hard to get up the get-up-and-go to work out. Like yesterday for me. I know all the reasons to exercise. I write about them, for goodness’ sake.

But sometimes even all that knowledge just isn’t good enough to inspire me to exercise.

I know the benefits

I knew that once I started and felt everything start to tingle with the warm-up, the workout would be over before I knew it.

I also knew that when the workout was over and the final stretch and cool-down began, all those endorphins would be racing through my body and I’d feel fantastic. And that shower when I was done would feel better than great.

And I knew that I’d sleep better if I worked out. And that I would be in a better mood. And that my blood pressure would go down, I’d be able to concentrate and focus better, and that I would have even more energy after my workout. (For more benefits of exercise, read http://fitness-over-50.com/2015/09/why-exercise/)

Not enough

But that did not convince me to change into my workout gear and exercise. The dogs were not helping, they were being cute so I didn’t want to stop playing with them.

What did make me change and start my workout?

Pasta with bolognese sauce.

It was hard finding motivation. The spaghetti motivated me to work out.

My favorite. I’m a pasta-holic. I love pasta, especially my mom’s “spaghetti.” When we were growing up, mom would make spaghetti every month or so and it was always my sister’s and my favorite. Only when we were adults we learned that it was really pasta with bolognese sauce – a hifalutin’ word if ever there was one. Pasta – didn’t matter the shape – in a rich, tomato-ey sauce with caramelized onions and ground beef.

And it was for dinner. There was no way I wanted to feel guilty about consuming loads of calories of my favorite dish, and I certainly was not going to skimp on the portion size. We don’t have it that often any more.

No guilt

So I changed and worked out.

And, yes, the warmup felt good. It was an intense and sweaty workout. The stretch and cool-down felt better. The shower afterward was absolutely divine.

Best of all – no guilt. And I ate all my pasta.

Everything in moderation

Everything - yes, even red velvet cake - is OK in moderation.

It’s been another tough week in a series of tough weeks. And you’ve been (mostly) good about your diet.

And then, out of nowhere, you have an incredible craving for red velvet cake.

It’s OK

Try to resist if you can. Take a walk. Drink a glass of water. Do some gardening. Read a chapter in the book you have on your night table.

But if you’re still craving that cake, have a little bit. It’s OK. That little bit won’t hurt you.

In fact, you’ll probably have fewer calories if you have a little bit of exactly what you want rather than a substitute. If you have a little cookie to try to satisfy your craving, chances are you won’t have just one cookie, you’ll have ten. And those ten will have more calories than the small piece of cake you would have had. And it won’t taste as good.

Have that small piece of cake. Don’t deprive yourself. My watchword is, “Everything in moderation.” Don’t go overboard, but don’t cut yourself off from the small pleasures.

I’ve talked about it before – even a little bit of chocolate really is OK: http://fitness-over-50.com/2018/07/chocolate-and-a-healthy-lifestyle/

Watch every bite

If, as I have, you’ve struggled with your weight for your whole life, you know the importance of paying attention to every morsel that passes your lips – every taste, every single square of yummy dark chocolate, every forkful of deep-dish Chicago style pizza, every spoonful of ice cream.

So when we have an irresistible craving, we watch that going into our mouths as well. And feel absolutely no guilt. Because we plan for it.

If I’m going to have that chocolate, I give up something else. Or I do a more intense workout. Or I run a few more minutes on the treadmill. Because I still have to pay attention to the calorie limit I set for myself.

If the worst happens

But, if you can’t resist that craving and you go completely overboard – you can’t stop eating that cake, that pizza, that chocolate, that ice cream – and you think to yourself, “Well, that’s done it. Why stop now. I’ve eaten almost everything in sight, might as well finish it up. I’ve completely forgotten that diet. I’ll never lose weight” –

Hang in there!

One day is not going to ruin everything. You may have a little ground to make up, but all is really not lost. Get back on the straight and narrow. You’ll be fine.

Where’s my motivation?

Where's my motivation to workout - be an exerciser!

A few months ago, after the initial shock of the lockdown, many of us were inspired to begin exercising at home. We couldn’t go to gyms, so we worked out in our living rooms or basements, or started walking or running outside.

But as the weeks went on, as the saying goes, we’re just “not that into it” anymore.

Where’s my motivation? Where did it go?

We may have lost that initial glow, that feeling of, “Hey! Look at me! I’m actually exercising and I even lost a few pounds.”

But then things started to go back to semi-normal. Gyms started opening up, but it wasn’t the same. There were occupancy limits. Masks were required in many cases. It was hard. We may have gone back a few times, but it was hard.

And then cases started rising and things locked down again.

And your motivation up and went. The starting and stopping, starting and stopping – do I go to the gym? do I go for a run? Or, do I sit on the couch.

Different motivations

Starting a new behavior requires much different motivation than keeping that behavior going.

At first we were inspired to do something that was actually good for us while we were cooped up at home. We were told that we should exercise – it would be good for us.

But then we were able to do other things, outside our homes. Meet friends at restaurants – outside, perhaps, but still a social gathering. Or go shopping. And so our motivation to exercise went by the wayside.

It’s much more difficult to sustain motivation for a behavior that we may not be that invested in to start with. We need more than “we should do this” to keep it going.

Make it easy

If you’re serious about wanting to exercise – and I’ve written before about the many reasons TO exercise, make it easy on yourself. Make it easy to be an exerciser.

  1. Have your workout gear handy. Whether you work out at home or actually go to a gym – have a drawer, or part of a drawer, specifically for clothes you use to work out in.
  2. Do something you like, or don’t mind so much. Whether it’s running, walking, lifting weights, dancing, yoga – figure out what you won’t mind doing for 30 – 40 minutes a few times a week and
  3. SCHEDULE it. Yes – write it down in your calendar. It helps to make it the same time on the days that you exercise – you will get used to exercising at that time. Whether it’s 7:00 in the morning, 3:30 in the afternoon or 10:00 at night. Make an appointment with yourself. Every day. Write it down. Make it a repeating appointment in your Google calendar.
  4. If you feel like running one day and lifting weights the next – perfectly OK. Don’t lock yourself into a particular style of exercise. Cross-training is good for you.

Get your motivation back. Be an exerciser, not just someone who sometimes exercises. Your body – and your mind – will thank you.