When I was in high school I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. In college I became part of the Freshman Fifteen Club—not a club you want to join. At a time in my life when I should have been at peak physical condition, I was not. I tried everything to lose a few pounds. One quick fix, or so I thought, was wrapping my body in plastic wrap, putting on a sweat suit and running a few miles…then going into the sauna. I tried the grapefruit diet, the cookie diet, and simply starving myself for days and days. None of those, as you probably know, worked in the long run. When I started making fitness a priority, however, the “W” number (waist size) on my Levis jeans went two inches.
In order to keep myself committed to an exercise routine, (and because I loved it), I started teaching group fitness classes back in 1980. There were a dozen reasons why I didn’t have time to go to the gym; I had errands to run, laundry to do, etc… Once I made fitness a major part of my life, my energy miraculously improved, I lost weight, and I was happier. Not only did teaching fitness classes keep me in shape, but during that hour when I focused on the choreography and my students, it was a mental break. My problems were left at the door and I stopped thinking about Fritos and cupcakes.
Am I suggesting that everyone becomes a fitness instructor? No. It’s a lot of work (but so much fun!) I became an international Zumba fitness presenter and trained instructors in Australia, London, Paris and nearly every state. Undoubtedly, it was one of greatest times of my life. While I was helping others get healthy, I, too, was making fitness a priority.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Now, more than ever, we need to make our health our first concern. If we’re not healthy, we can’t do God’s good work. Exercise is the key to lifelong health; it lowers blood pressure, promotes better sleep, prevents inflammation, lubricates joints, and boosts your immune system so it can fight infections. If I don’t move my body by stretching, dancing, or weight training at least five days a week, I ache.
As we age, we lose muscle tone. Our balance is off and our bones become brittle. So far, I’m the only grandma (I know) that can jump on the trampoline (and do backflips) with her grandkids, and I want to keep doing that as long as I can. Sweating during exercise helps eliminates toxins in our bodies and gives us that healthy glow. The air we breathe and the food we eat can be contaminated with chemicals and pesticides that cause a toxic build up in our bodies, which can cause headaches, joint pain, wrinkles, and yes, even cancer.
Here are my top four tips to making fitness a part of your life (if you haven’t already):
- Make an appointment. You schedule doctor visits, activities for your kids, or veterinarian appointments for your pets, so why not create a weekly agenda for yourself? Try to schedule thirty minutes, three times a week, minimum. Swim, lift weights, dance, it doesn’t matter. Do something, anything.
- Take baby steps. If you’ve never exercised before, take it slow. Start with ten minutes of walking and work up to thirty minutes, three times a week. No time? Wake up twenty minutes early and go for a walk or just stretch. There are lots of online workouts where you can choose between dance, weight training, yoga and you can even select the time! Start wherever you are….but start!
- Phone a friend. We are less likely to cancel appointments when we know we’re letting someone else down. Get a group of girlfriends to walk and talk at the same time every morning or evening. Perhaps you can start your own walking prayer group too!
- Mix it up. Once you start an exercise program you may initially see results like dropping a few pounds or inches quickly and then you plateau. God designed our bodies to become accustomed to a particular fitness regimen to help us get stronger. This is called the Principle of Adaptation. To continually make progress and break through that adaptation phase, you have to use your muscles in a different way as often as possible. How? Increase the intensity, frequency, or duration of your exercise routine. For example, if you like to walk, walk faster for four minutes, then slow the pace. Walk more often, and walk longer. Try to fit cardiovascular, strength training and stretching into each workout.
I hope these tips help you stay committed to daily or at least weekly exercise. Find the thing that makes your heart sing and you’ll do it more often. You’ll be happier and healthier.
For information on the superfood nutrition I take that gives me extra energy for my workouts, email [email protected]. Check out this video to see it live and join me every Sunday at 5pm eastern.
There are a few spots available for my LIVE weekend wellness and worship workshop with faith-based life coach Niccie Kliegl in Naples November 12-14. Register at https://nicciekliegl.com/