My whole life, I’ve been an on-again, off-again exerciser. I’ve never been an athlete, never particularly enjoyed working out, and really don’t care for sweating under any circumstance. But I know it’s good for me, so I’ve made occasional attempts to become one of those people who exercise on the regular.
It never lasted very long though. Life has always gotten in the way. Or rather, I’ve let it get in the way. If I’m honest with myself, I have always had an extra half-hour during most days to squeeze in exercise. I’ve not always felt like I had the energy or the motivation, but I’ve usually had the time. Yet somehow, I’ve just always had half a dozen excuses for not doing it.
Lately, though, I’m realizing that most of my go-to excuses don’t fly anymore. My kids are getting older and are much more independent, so I don’t have that excuse. I work from home and can make my own schedule, so I don’t have that excuse. I sleep through the night practically every night now, so I don’t have that excuse.
Seeing as all of my excuses had ditched me, I decided it was time to get my 40-something body in shape and become “one of those people” for real. I would reclaim my body from motherhood and see what the ol’ girl could do. If I didn’t do it now, when would I?
So I dusted off my Jillian Michaels’s 30-Day Shred video (which I had never gotten more than 15 days into before) and forced myself to complete the full 30 days. Then I subscribed to Beachbody On Demand (it was much cheaper than joining a gym) and have been working out almost every day for a couple of months now.
I’ve seen my body change and get stronger, which is awesome. My clothes fit better, which is fabulous. But the most notable and powerful change is how much less stressed I feel, especially with my kids. And I’ve realized what I had been cheating myself — and my children — out of.
So much exercise marketing is geared toward losing weight or getting sculpted or attaining the “beach body you’ve always wanted.” And while there’s nothing wrong with those goals if that’s what is important to you, that’s not enough motivation for some of us. Feeling stronger and more energetic as I started working out regularly has helped me stay motivated, but nothing has inspired me to continue more than the difference I’ve seen in my moods.
I find myself having more patience and getting less irritated with my kids. I’m generally happier and more even-keeled. Exercise offers a physical outlet for the strains and stresses of motherhood, which I didn’t realize I desperately needed. Prioritizing self-care and carving out time for myself means I feel more balanced.
Not that I always get exercise time to myself. My kids are usually around when I work out, and sometimes they’ll even do some of it with me. But even that makes me feel good about the impact it’s having on my kids. They see me building and maintaining healthy habits, which sets a positive example for them.
I wish I had understood much earlier how much regular exercise would affect my mothering. If I had developed the habit when my kids were younger, I am sure it would have helped me through some of those rough early years. I always knew I should be exercising for my physical health, but I never knew how much I needed it for my mental health. A happier mom equals a happier family.
So if you’re a mom like me who simply isn’t motivated by promises of a bikini body, if you know you should be exercising regularly but can’t seem to make yourself do it, if you feel guilty taking the time away from your kids to exercise, maybe it’s time to shift your thinking. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids. What better motivation could there be?