It took me about thirty years to figure out something I heard articulated so well in one of my courses last week: there's baggage around the word EXERCISE. "You should exercise." "I don't have time to exercise." "I really need to exercise more." And here's the thing. I don't like the gym. I really wish I did. I want to like the gym. I've tried mixing things up a little: the treadmill, the bikes, elliptical trainers, lifting weights, swimming, different classes. Some things are more fun than others, but when I'm at the gym, I'm pretty much counting the minutes until I can leave. Running is the same way (I can't run anymore for reasons I'll get into another time). It does release stress, it does help me fit into the clothes I like to wear, but I pretty much can't wait for it to be over.
MOVING your body, on the other hand, is fun. And easier than you think. I too was brainwashed for a while into thinking if it was really that much fun, you must not be working hard enough. No pain, no gain, right? A few years ago, I started riding horses. I became really good friends with a woman at the barn who was a more advanced rider. She broke her foot (not riding horses, by the way) and had to take a few months off. By the time she was back at the barn, she was complaining that she'd gotten out of shape, that the break from riding had left her core and legs weak. I rolled my eyes on the inside, because I thought, there's no way that's a workout. Turns out I was wrong. And I can't believe it's a workout because it is SO MUCH FUN. You know what else makes me stronger and gets my heart beating? Lugging the bales of hay out to the paddock to feed the horses. Carrying buckets of water and feed to their stalls. Shoveling and raking the ring. And on top of all that "exercise," the sounds and smells of the barn are just flat out good for my soul.
I also started cycling about a year ago with my husband. There's a good story behind that also, but my point is . . . that is a SERIOUS workout and I still LOVE it. I feel incredibly powerful on a bike. I was really nervous at first, especially when we were on roads. Also I fell over a lot when I got those pedals that you clip your shoes into. But now I'm addicted.
You may think horses stink (they do) and biking seems like a fair amount of trouble (sometimes it is), maybe the gym really IS your scene. But the takeaway here is, you don't have to have a dedicated hour in an official workout place with your fitness band/watch telling you your heart is in the fat burning zone (I came of age in the 80s, it was ALL ABOUT the fat burning zone). Just MOVE. Even if it's for a little bit. I sat at this computer for six hours yesterday working on the web site and attending classes, so when I took my middle guy to his piano lesson, I took a walk around his piano teacher's neighborhood for a half hour. It was gorgeous. The "computer kink" came right out of my neck.
Try new things. You might not like them. Keep trying, you'll find something you do, and in the process, you just might surprise yourself. Take the kids for a walk after dinner (I do this a lot in an attempt to wear my daughter out). Play outside with them. Find an adult league for a sport you used to love. Swim with the kids in the pool this summer, have races to see who can swim 25 meters first. Jump on that bike. Dance! If you're moving, you're getting healthier, you're managing stress and you might even be connecting with that teenager that hasn't spoken in 48 hours.