Social media seems to be blowing up with memes intended to motivate and inspire us, but often I think they tend to have the opposite effect on women in particular when it comes to fitness.
If you google “fitness motivation”, or do a similar search on Pinterest, often what comes up is an image of a girl with 6-pack abs with words like “Just do it” “Go hard or Go home” or my favorite “No excuses!”. What people don’t understand is that for women these images don’t inspire us- they can often make us feel guilty.
Starting or maintaining an exercise program or finding time to prepare healthy meals is time consuming, and for women with already over-packed schedules, these can turn into the easiest thing to eliminate from the agenda. Lack of sleep from a newborn baby, stress from a 9-5 job, running from carline to a soccer game to home-these are not excuses for not finding time for exercise; they are reasons. Valid reasons why fitting a workout in when you are ready to collapse on the sofa, does not always happen. We shouldn’t feel guilty for this!
At the same time, prioritizing our health is so crucial for so many reasons, so the first step is to discard the notion that we are doing something wrong by having valid reasons in our lives that make exercise and healthy eating difficult to maintain. Once we let go of feeling guilty, we can proactively address these reasons, and come up with ways to work around them. For example look at your schedule and find a way to incorporate a 10 minute walk. With your baby, on your lunch-break, or around the track at a child’s practice. Rather than trying to work against your schedule, try working with it!
Setting SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, can help with this process. Rather than saying “I am going to lose 25lbs”, set a healthy and attainable goal of 1 lb per week, with a 6 week remeasure, and find one way to tweak your routine to help you achieve it. Simply taking more steps each day, adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal, cutting portions, drinking more water-these are all simple ways to keep moving forward toward a healthier you, without setting yourself up for failure with unattainable goals and feelings of guilt for not having hours to workout!
I always remind clients, that we are instructed on airplanes to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting others. Caring for ourselves and prioritizing time for exercise is a way to help other apects of our lives, and what better way to provide realistic inspiration than by living healthy lifestyles!