This week I wanted to share a different type of blog. It’s actually a letter I received from a reader who wrote to me on my website. She agreed to let me share our exchange, as her concerns and struggles are not uncommon. I believe her words will resonate with many of you, just as they did with me, and it is my hope that my responses will prove helpful to those who might need a little extra boost of motivation and a few tips to get back on the wagon.
"Hello, My name is Kristine and I am a 43-year-old housewife and mother of 4 children. It has been about 18 months since I've enjoyed a regular fitness program and I am ready to return to one, as I am very unhappy with my lack of stamina, muscle tone, and low energy levels. I am 10 lbs. more than my regular set point and I'm softer, less defined, and sagging in places I hadn't before, such as under my triceps (how did that happen?). I still lift groceries and laundry and clean like crazy!), and my derriere, (I KNOW how that happened - that's from all the sitting while doing my laundry and driving my kids all over the planet, ha!) Friends have told me that it is just my age, but I find it hard to believe that I could experience such a rapid decline in endurance and stamina so quickly because of my age.
…I have always loved working out at home with videos. Among my collection of videos is your Bedroom Body™ Workout and it is definitely one of my favorites, however, what used to be a great workout for me has now become a challenge for me to do for even 15 minutes. I am writing to seek assistance in getting motivated with a plan of action and realistic goals for returning to my formerly strong, energetic self. You are an inspirational example of fitness and I like what I've read about you and your mother and two daughters from your website. Can you help me back onto the wagon? Best, Kristine"
"Hi Kristine, Thank you for writing! Here are my thoughts~
1. I don't think it's your age. I think that society has come to use age as something to fall back on, when really our age is a reflection of our decisions more than anything else. I think you're right in your intuition that it isn't your age, it's that you've taken time off and naturally your body has responded accordingly. 18 months is a long time, and all of us no matter what our age would see a tremendous decline in our fitness and energy levels, just as 18 months of a fitness program would make our energy and fitness levels increase tremendously. As I get older, I battle that age stereotype more and more because I don't want to let age hold me back, and I'd like to empower other women to think the same. We can be strong and fit no matter what our age.
2. First and foremost, try to let the past be the past. You deserve that. You took time off, you're seeing changes you don't like as a result, but now it's time to look to the future. How do you want to feel in the future? What kind of time could you realistically devote in order to feel the way you want to feel? Notice how I focus on feeling rather than looking, because I believe that we need to focus on getting healthy from the inside out. If you feel good, you'll be inspired to workout and look good. And if you look good, you’ll feel good, so it's a positive cycle that reinforces itself.
3. Make a schedule. Schedule your workouts the way you schedule your kid's activities. Start with two days a week so you don't feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by the worry of... where do I start, how do I start, when do I start? Schedule two days a week, at the same time of day, and write it down on a dry erase board or a piece of paper where you and your family can see it; that way they can help keep you accountable.
4. Now that you know when you're going to workout, decide what you're going to do. Maybe make the first day a cardio day and the second day a strength training day. Or choose your two favorite workout videos and decide which one you'll do each day.
5. Decide how long you want to workout. Do you want to start with 30 minutes each workout? Then the second week increase to 35 or 40 minutes, then the third week you could go 45 minutes, and the fourth week shoot for the whole hour.
6. Once you've successfully accomplished two days a week, on week five try to add a third workout day. Maybe it's a yoga DVD or a stretching routine on your third day. Then do three workouts a week for at least 4-6 weeks before you try to add 4th workout. In the meantime, if you want to increase the length of your workouts you could do that. Just try to keep the 10 percent rule in mind. Increase the duration of your workout or your intensity by only about 10 percent each week so that you don't get injured. Also, try to space your workouts: Tu/Th or M/W/F
My biggest piece of advice is to let your self off the hook. Let your past be your past. It's okay that you took time off. You were there for your kids and that's great, but now you want to be there for yourself and for your kids, and you can do both. From here on out, focus on the future and try not to compare who you used to be and how you used to look to who you are today. Just do the best you can, so you can look and feel your best each day. One day at a time."
Best to you in Health~