Being Fit in 2019: An everyWOMAN How-TO

Back on January 8th, I wrote the first part of what has turned into a recurring mini series about why we should and how we can take the next step in being fit as we move into the new year. I’m SUPER excited to feature the first ever guest blogger on Thinkchristiandaily, Chelsea George, who has provided the fourth piece in this recurring mini series (January 8th, January 25th, January 26th). On January 25th, I provided an Everyman How-To for physical fitness, but today I’m happy to announce the EveryWOMAN How-To for being fit in 2019. Our guest blogger, Chelsea George, is an evangelical Christian, a Mother, an Army wife, has her BS in Kinesiology, is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist, works as a wellness coordinator, is pursuing her masters degree in health education & promotion, and has been a National level fitness competitor with National Physique Committee, but most importantly she is my sister.

You just wrapped up working a 9 hour day, the oldest has football practice at the exact same time that the middle child has dance class, and you still have to find time to make dinner in there somewhere. You are busy and feel that you don’t have a moment to spare in your chaotic schedule. This sounds like a normal Tuesday for many of us living in a world where the pressure to always be doing more is very real. Sometimes you feel like you’re wearing a super hero cape, and other times you feel like you’re bobbing around with your head right above the water and you may go under at any minute.  How could you possibly fit one MORE thing into your day?

Unfortunately, many of us understand the need to take care of our bodies physically by engaging in regular exercise, but we just don’t know where the time is going to come from to actually do it. Trying to find time to yourself to get a workout in during the chaos can often seem like an impossible task. Know that you’re not alone! I’ve been there, I promise. I am constantly struggling with balancing the kid’s busy schedules while working and going to school; throw in a husband who is in the military and often traveling, and I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. But, I know the benefits of improving my physical fitness are worth it, and I want to share with you a few tips to help you to get started with a regular exercise plan and stick to it, no matter what life throws at you.

So, where do you begin? How often should you be exercising? Is there a certain type of exercise you need to be doing? Can you work out at home, or do you need to invest in a gym membership? There are so many questions that come to mind when someone is in the contemplation stage and considering adopting a regular exercise program. This uncertainty alone can be a big enough barrier that some people aren’t able to get past. My first piece of advice is to start by setting a long term goal. This could be something like “12 months from now I will run a 10k”. Next, set several short term goals which will help you reach that long term goal. For example, “I will walk/jog x number of miles per week”. Make sure to follow the SMART goal setting model when deciding on what your goals will be. SMART stands for Specific (make your short and long term goals as specific as possible), Measurable (how will you know if you’ve reached your goal or not?), Attainable (choose goals that are challenging, but not impossible), Relevant (don’t choose short term goals that have nothing to do with that overarching long term goal), and Time based (WHEN will you achieve this goal?). If you’re currently not engaging in regular physical activity, a great short term goal to start with is to regularly perform at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise. This goal follows the guidelines of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, and is thought to be the minimum amount needed to promote heart health. New research has also come out that shows that splitting these aerobic exercise sessions into short increments (think 10 minutes) is just as effective, so if you’re feeling like you don’t have a 30 minute window in your day to fit this in, try splitting it into three 10 minute sessions.

So, you have set your short and long term goals. Now it is time to implement your plan. Here are a few tips to help you along the way. Tip #1, set your alarm an hour earlier. I know, you’re tired. The alarm starts going off and all you can think about is that magical hour that you could continue to sleep before getting the whole house up and ready for the day. But, hear me out. By setting your alarm just an hour earlier and getting in a nice quick sweat, you’ve now made sure that no matter what kind of “crazy” life throws at you for the day, your workout is DONE!

            This brings me to my next tip, investing in a few pieces of equipment to make home workouts super effective. This is perfect for those times that you either don’t have enough time to head to the gym and train (maybe those mornings that you set the alarm an hour early!), or you’ve got a sick kiddo at home who can’t be in the gym nursery. No…I’m not telling you to run out and purchase a squat rack or anything too crazy. You can still get in a great workout at home with just a few inexpensive items. I recommend starting with a jump rope, a kettle bell, and a set of resistance bands.

            Finally, tip #3: find a good accountability partner! Don’t be afraid to share your goals with a friend, as a lot of times this simple act makes you more likely to stick to the plan. Maybe this friend will also want to start on this journey to improved wellness with you! Having a workout buddy can make the process more enjoyable, and knowing that someone is counting on you to show up can help to keep you motivated.

            My final piece of advice for you today is to cut yourself some slack. Not every day is going to be perfect. There will be days where you don’t get your workout in, and that is OKAY! I am not asking you to be perfect, but instead to make a consistent effort to reach your fitness goals while improving your health. I believe in you.

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