As I age, the pounds go on easier.
With no changes, the bulge around my waist will only get bigger. No amount of creatively wearing clothes (loose tops, busy prints, and dark colors) will hide the extra poundage. For the past few months, I've done a double take in the mirror. How did that happen? Photo by Tobyotter
There's a part of me that is advising, "Here's your window of opportunity. It's now or never!" I'm 49 years old. I'm yearning to be fit by the time I'm 50.
I'm determined to create a new habit--one of being fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating. Here's what I know about creating new habits:
- Allow space to practice. Many years ago, I was at a week-long retreat at the Omega Institute in upstate NY. The package included yoga classes every morning at 7am, before the day got rolling. Doing this for a week, outside of my normal workday, was enough to get a foothold on a new habit. I created a routine of morning yoga. Nearly a decade later, I still do twenty minutes of yoga in my office several times a week, before beginning the day. I'm hoping that a slower schedule, when most of us are in vacation mode, will provide that same space to get into a vigorous exercise routine. Photo by giena.it
- Create a supportive environment. I'm a decent enough eater. I eat my vegetables, don't go on junk food binges, and drink lots of water throughout the day. But having two teenage boys in the house who easily devour half gallons of ice cream, a batch of brownies, and a dozen Costco muffins, over the course of a couple of days, is the death knell for me. I'm not trying to out eat them. I just want to get my fair share before the empty carton hits the trash can. While my sons are gone for two weeks (on a cultural exchange trip to China), I'm seeing what happens when only the healthy stuff is in the house.
- Enroll others. My husband is a role model for keeping fit in middle age. Between biking, running, baseball and golf, he's probably in better shape now than he was in his twenties. He enthusiastically cheers me on each time I go to the gym. And he's readily agreed to take hikes with me in the high country in the coming weeks. Evelyn, my friend in Boulder, is expecting that we'll bike every weekend until the weather turns cold. My sister is a great companion for an after dinner walk. Photo by Mike Baird.
- Give yourself structure, with flexibility. My goal is to exercise 7 days a week. That can sound harsh for someone who has never had a steady fitness routine. Instead, I've given myself choices for each day of the week. Weekend days are reserved for a long bike ride and a short run. Fridays, I'll take advantage of a once a week $5 yoga class at a yoga studio in town. And Monday through Thursday, I'll alternate a short run/long walk with an array of fitness classes at the local recreation class. Photo by donut_p
- Make yourself accountable. I'll give a report next month and if you see me between now and then, ask me how my new habit of fitness is coming along. I found this article on making your commitments public interesting. It points to doing a bit of what you say you will do, before actually telling others.
I'm on Day 19 of creating a new habit. So far, so good. In addition to thinking of exercise as something on my schedule to "get done", I'm more aware of what I eat and where I can cut a few calories without feeling deprived. A salad and fruit for lunch on a hot day feels just right. Photo by catsper.
What new habit are you creating for yourself and what tips do you have for doing it?