Nothing is more #onbrand for me than hating exercise. When I was four years old, my dad asked me if I wanted to sign up for T-ball like all my friends and I responded, “…Why?!” I was just never that girl who liked physical activity, and that pattern continued throughout my life. I dreaded P.E. every day of school. (Seriously, the only B I got in all of high school was in P.E. How does that even happen?) In college, I went to my campus gym a grand total of three times in four years.
Over the years I’ve battled a lot of anxiety, which has resulted in difficulty sleeping, stomach problems, low weight, and lack of energy. My husband was always encouraging me to get active, but I never really made a serious change. It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I had the motivation I needed. If my baby was going to be using my body as a home, I was going to make sure it was the healthiest body I could give her! Here are the ways I’ve introduced healthier habits I can stick with!
- Get moving: You don’t have to sign up for a marathon to get off the couch. Set aside time in your day every day to move your body. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. Put on a playlist you love and dance around your kitchen. Stretch when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. The more you choose movement instead of just sitting, the more you’ll realize how desperate your body was for a little activity.
- Do yoga: Yoga is the only form of exercise I’ve been able to stick with. I think yoga is a great starting point because you’re not going to be pouring sweat or doing intense cardio. You’re addressing fundamentals like good breathing and awareness of your muscles and joints in a way that feels very do-able for those of us who are fitness challenged. Find a local yoga class and invite a friend to go with you. Or, if classes scare you, there are tons of great yoga videos on Youtube that you can do in the privacy of your own home!
- Drink water: If hydration was a religion, my husband would be its greatest evangelist. Staying hydrated will do so much for your health. Dehydration causes low energy levels and tons of other health problems that make it that much harder to get active. Wondering if you might be dehydrated? Here’s a tip I’ve learned during pregnancy: you aren’t fully hydrated until your pee is almost clear like water. If you’re like me and have a hard time drinking enough water, cut up fresh fruit to add a little flavor. I also make unsweet, decaf iced tea and mix it with organic lemonade for a low-sugar Arnold Palmer. For me, anything I can do to add a bit of taste makes me more likely to drink. I also drink way more when I use a straw, so I try to keep a tumbler with a straw with me all the time. Find what works for you.
- Sleep tight: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night and that your sleep is routine. If you’re not sleeping well, there’s no way you’ll have the energy to get active. I once read that sleep isn’t a bank you can make deposits and withdrawals from…it’s something you have to give your body consistently. Even grownups need a bedtime. Wake up at a consistent time, too. Make sure the time you wake up on your days off is no more than an hour later than your regular routine, otherwise you’ll throw your body off track. I personally have always had trouble falling asleep and am deeply offended when my alarm goes off in the morning. These are the things that have worked for me to get the best quality sleep:
- Set a cutoff time for screens. The blue light from our screens hinders sleep. About an hour before you go to bed, stop all screen time. And yes, this means your phone, too.
- Have a bedtime routine. Every night when I climb into bed, I put on lip balm, put on hand lotion, and settle down with a book. I genuinely think I’ve trained myself like a dog to know that these steps mean it’s time to turn off my racing thoughts and get in sleep mode.
- Write it down. If you struggle with turning your brain off at night, store a notebook and pen in your nightstand. If you can’t let a thought go, write it down. Whether it’s a list, reminders for the next day, or a prayer to give whatever is worrying you to the Lord, get those thoughts out of your head once and for all instead of lying there and dwelling on them.
- Don’t eat garbage: To this day I would eat out for every meal if I could. As far as I’m concerned, the drive thru is the greatest luxury every invented. But if you consistently feed your body with things that have no nutritional value, there simply is no way it can function properly. Pregnancy has caused me to eat the healthiest I’ve ever eaten, because my baby can’t grow a body out of french fries. Making better food choices has been a huge part of helping me feel motivated and capable to incorporate exercise into my routine. Summer is a great time to get in this habit because there are so many delicious fruits and veggies in season. If you’re into shopping local, let that translate into your grocery shopping. Support local farmers through co-ops or farmer’s markets in your area.
- Start small: The lifestyle I’m leading right now is pitiful compared to someone like my husband, who has prioritized fitness for many years. But it’s a huge victory for me! Take baby steps and celebrate your progress.
What are your favorite fitness tips for beginners? What habits have stuck with you? I’ll be on Instagram this week sharing some of the ways I incorporate these tips into my day-to-day life. Reach out on there or Facebook with any questions or comments!