Let’s be honest here, the only thing between you and a workout before kids is motivation and the occasional hangover. After kids, the list of hurdles is looooong (and the hangovers are less frequent but far worse.) Aside from those time and alcohol-related challenges are the physical ones that some of us face in increasing number over 40. But insert a little humble-brag here, I was proud to read in my 23 & Me results that my DNA shows I have the same genetic variant as an “elite athlete”, but unfortunately, I can tell you confidently that I’m “elite” at almost nothing but sarcasm. As a result, I’ve never been the kind to wake up in the morning, clap my hands and feel ready to rock some sort of crazy workout. I rock a cup of coffee…and then another.
But, I acknowledged the merit of the all the proven research about exercise and knew I had to do something with meaningful intent, most certainly as the 40-year milestone loomed and then passed. And, in full transparency, I have worked out in fits and spurts at the gym for most of my adult life and even had a personal trainer for about 3 months and didn’t drink to see if that helped bring out my likely singular “ab” that he said was bound to be in there. But, aside from that, my fitness regimen just wasn’t performed with any regularity or passion. With every move to a new city, I joined the fanciest gym in town (it was bound to make things less painful), banged it out like I was a fresh-faced olympian-in-training for like 2 weeks, then paid the exorbitantly high bill every month only to never show up again.
Here’s what finally clicked for me: the recognition that I have always loved to take a walk and craved me-time to recharge. I had to take lots of them in the first few years of working in advertising when I was in the throws of a full-blown anxiety attack generally because we treated the development of direct mail like it was a life-saving exercise [insert a hindsight eye-roll]. So, I started there in my renewed commitment to exercise. With that pressure off feeling like I had to be a triathlete or nothing (as you can possibly see that’s how my brain works) made a huge difference. I know we all see our social-media friendsters posting their Hurculean fitness milestones, but give yourself permission to start with doing anything that works for you and acknowledge that it’s better than nothing. In advertising, one of our many buzzwords is “measuring incremental lift” – it’s a key measure of progress, and it certainly applies here. I feel confident in saying that the motivation for more exercise-related activities will follow as you get your blood flowing again and perhaps see even the slightest results, whether that be mental clarity, fresh creative ideas, one more interrupted hour of sleep at night (hallelujah!), or if you’re lucky, a pound or two. I now exercise about five days a week with a combo of run/walk, yoga and stationary bike (Peloton, big fan!), improving my times and outputs incrementally, but the real win here has been my level of increased happiness and personal satisfaction.
Finally, I want to further reinforce that you shouldn’t let your scale be the judge, jury and executioner of your practice. Let your fitness motivation be to simply start moving and breathing…plain and simple. The positive measure of improved wellness overall will be felt in your mind, body and spirit, I can promise you that.