Finding an fitness routine that I can stick with is seriously my biggest challenge to working regular exercise into my life. It is something that is important to me, and I know everyone says “if you REALLY valued exercise you’d find a way to prioritize it.” Well I agree with that statement. But just when I feel like I’ve found a good groove, something in my life changes and I’ve got to start all over from scratch.
When I was training for my first and only triathlon, I had a, um, flexible schedule and could easily make time for a trip to the pool or an afternoon run. Then I started a new job (a week before the race!), moved to a new town and since then have had a much harder time figuring out a routine.
I’ve written about how I’ve tried lunch hour gym time — great when you can work it in, but I found that my days were just too unpredictable to consistently get to the gym during the day.
I’ve also written about run commuting, which I thought would be a good option, but for whatever reason I couldn’t stick with it. First it was too hot. Then it was too dark. I don’t think I live in a dangerous area, but I will say that part of my problem is i don’t feel 100% comfortable running alone after dark around here, and that really limits the number of hours I can carve out for a run!
Then I tried running in the mornings before work. And it was GREAT. I thought I’d finally found a routine I could keep up for the long-term. I’d leave for work a little early, run around the mall, and shower at my work gym. Throughout August and September, the mornings were the PERFECT temperature for a run. The scenery was inspiring. I could never stop myself from pausing to snap photos of the monuments at sunrise. Such an invigorating start to the workday!
I was making such good progress, getting faster and adding distance. I was so proud of myself! I started making tentative goals to sign up for a 10k sometime this year. But then — the story of my exercise life — circumstances changed on me. Beautiful August and September turned to October. It got dark. And cold. And I got pregnant.
I bought myself a nice pair of running tights, bundled up, and bravely tried my best to become one of those women who kept on running all 9 months. But at about 8 weeks, morning sickness and fatigue set in, and apparently my body just really needed to sleep 12-14 hours a day during that time. One morning, during a brief interlude of feeling normal again, I tried going to the gym, only to discover that gyms and pregnancy do NOT mix. TOO MANY SMELLS! Oh my god, all the women with their scented lotions and the man with the horrible BO on the treadmill next to me, I was practically homicidal. Never. Again. Then a few days later my morning sickness came back with a vengeance and I wondered if I had pushed myself too hard.
So I let my gym membership lapse and took it easy until I was sure I was out of the woods, about 14-15 weeks in for me. I tried to pick up running again, with a really easy 2 mile jog/walk routine, but the next day I was unusually sore and decided not to chance it again. So I’ve given up running for now, and since I no longer go to the gym I’ve had to get creative about staying active. Here is my routine now:
Walking. Lots of walking.
Between a morning dog walk and the walking I do just getting to and from work/metro, I figure I get in about 40 minutes of walking daily. I take a route that takes me up some big hills to get my heart rate up, and if for some reason my morning is too frenzied I try to get out for a 20 minute walk during my lunch break. I know it’s not good for me to be sitting all day anyway. The biggest challenge has been staying motivated when the weather is ugly, as we seem to have had a number of nasty 35° and rainy days this winter.
I have done yoga extremely sporadically since I took it consistently in college, but I have finally found a prenatal yoga class that I LOVE, that is affordable, and is convenient. It is seriously my saving grace each week for relieving all the random aches and pains that crop up during pregnancy, and taking the time out to relax and meditate helps with any fears and anxieties that come with the territory.
Prenatal yoga is definitely different than a regular yoga class — much more a focus on stretching, relaxation and opening poses rather than athleticism. We do a few challenging asanas each week — squatting for two minutes is REALLY HARD, okay! — so there is some emphasis on building strength and stamina, but mostly I leave feeling light, relaxed and limber.
Having an arsenal of yoga asanas has been really helpful as my pregnancy has progressed and I am starting to get more uncomfortable after long periods of sitting or sleeping. Stretching and a few poses every night before bed has become a must in order to assure a somewhat sound night of sleep!
Fitness DVDs and TV
I’ve always been one that has needed to get out of my house to really motivate myself, but as mentioned above, the lack of gym membership and daylight to run outside has limited my options! On top of that, I know that once the baby is here I’ll have precious little time to exercise, and seeing as there are no gyms nearby with childcare, better that I start figuring out a contingency plan now.
Working out at home in short bursts has turned out to be a good solution. I just needed to find the right programs.
First I tried some of the workouts I could find on Hulu since I was already paying for a subscription. But it was a pain sitting through the commercials so that never really stuck.
I bought this prenatal yoga DVD in my first trimester before I started classes. It is okay. It wastes a little too much time with intros and segues and I get kind of bored by it. But if I can’t make it to a yoga class, this DVD is a decent substitute.
Then I somehow stumbled across this bar method pregnancy workout DVD. This one has been my favorite. It cuts right to the chase. It is broken into about 15-20 minute segments for each body part (arms, thighs, butt, and abs) that are easily selected if you don’t have the full 45 minutes to devote to a workout that day. It moves at a quick pace and is broken up with recovery and stretching in between each set, so the 45 minutes go by surprisingly quickly! I will have to check out a studio or their other “regular” DVDs in the future.
So those are the things that have worked for me thus far. But with all the constant changes I’m going through lately, perhaps I’ll have to adjust my routine again. What I’m learning is that flexibility is key, so doing away with the gym is probably a good plan for the long term. I may not make that 10K goal any time soon, but I know that just being active for about 30 minutes a day is the most important thing, so I’ll live with my modified workouts for now.
How do you keep up a consistent fitness routine? What types of workouts have been most effective for you? Have you found any DVDs or at-home routines that you love?