If you beat yourself up because you haven't gone to the gym or taken that yoga class, relax! You can be fit without ever seeing the inside of a gym ever again.
Your idea of working out might be a bit like what taking a dietary supplement is for some people. They take a supplement to make up for the lack of nutritional value in their diet. A supplement they take for a while, until they forget to take it. And then remember again, only to fall off the bandwagon again. As you probably know, it makes much more sense to ditch the supplement and eat foods which naturally contain all the needed nutrients - several times a day, every day.
The same logic is true for our physical fitness. We need a whole body movement diet with lots of different movements packed into each day; not a one hour long, once a week exercise fix.
Here is my confession: I don’t attend an exercise or yoga class on a regular basis. In fact, it’s been a while that I’ve taken the time to treat myself with one hour of exercise. A stretch here and there and everywhere. OF COURSE. I'm a natural movement and alignment fan after all. But 60 consecutive minutes? Nope.
With the baby becoming a toddler, and the other children, and the cooking and the cleaning and the laundry and the emails and my work teaching classes and seeing clients … I’m not proud of it and I will have some kind of semi - regular routine back in my life, because it makes me feel so good, but while being in a bit of a rut ...
... I have NOT neglected my movement diet. I’ve been moving. Not as much as I would in the summer or fall when I’m outside much more. Perhaps not as much as I could or should. But I haven’t been a couch potato this winter, either (wait, we don’t even have a couch!).
Here are two things I do to keep moving every day
1) My everyday life is less convenient than that of the regular North American person.
Right now, I’m typing this sitting on the floor. This allows me to move around – sitting with my legs straight out in front of me or sitting on my heels or squatting, etc. To get up, I have to move my whole body up from the floor, a movement that requires much more work than just getting out of a chair. To get back to my computer, I have to go from standing all the way down to the floor. That is quite a bit of movement assuming that I get up and down frequently, which I do. (Do you pass this “sit and rise” test?)
When I’m done sitting on the floor (I know I’m done when my hips, knees or ankles tell me it’s time to change), I stand while working on the computer or talking on the phone. I often stretch my calves in the meantime.
I clean the kitchen floor on my hands and knees (thank goodness, I love it because I have to do this often). It is a hip, core, shoulder and arm workout.
A mop or a cleaning lady would be way too convenient (but personally I’d take a meal planning lady any time!).
I hardly ever use the dryer and hang the laundry on the clothes line in our garden (in the summer) or on a laundry rack and hangers in front of the wood oven (in the winter). That involves bending and reaching - less convenient but more movement than emptying the washer and loading the dryer (AND better for our planet!).
We are lucky to have a grocery store within walking distance. When I can, I walk there and carry the groceries home. I admit, that this is something I do more in the summer than the winter, mainly because I have a toddler, but I still do it every once in a while.
I don’t have a stroller. I carry my 17 month old in my arms or on my shoulders for short distances and in the carrier for longer outings.
I sleep on the floor sometimes. I enjoy grinding coffee beans in a manual grinder. I wish I could say I'm kneading bread dough. And I'm not beating our clothes against a washboard. But I bring the wood in ...
2) I enjoy the outdoors, try to play more like kids do - and accept I can’t do it all.
Our family goes into the woods to hike every week. Sometimes it’s a bigger hike, sometimes it’s a little walk. Sometimes, it is amazing all round, sometimes it's a fight and a drag with one of the children.
I have a weekly outdoor play date with a friend and we always go walking in nature. Well, this week we go skating and playing on the playground in the snow because it just works out better logistically. With 3 kids, I need to take care of my mental health!
This week, I’m going to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while and we’re going for a little nature walk (with our toddlers). This way, I kill 3 birds with one stone: I spend time with a friend, I move my body in nature which also calms my mind and I take care of my toddler's need for being outside.
That also means, there is no time for cooking (what are we going to eat?) or doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen floor or writing emails, but I can’t do it all.
I play with my children. I pull the toddler in the sled and we slide down hills together. In the summer, I climb trees with my older children. A few years ago, we installed monkey bars in our house to have fun and to get our upper bodies working.
I know this works because, when I have to, I can run and I don’t hyperventilate. My blood pressure is always normal. My cardiovasuclar system works well without me doing regular "cardio training".
I can carry my toddler through the woods for 3 hours and not have a sore back for days after. And I don't have a "weight training" slot in my weekly schedule!
You are not a stay at home mom or self-employed but working a full time office job? Don't despair!
I know I’m a bit privileged in terms of how I can structure my days and my work space, being a stay at home mom and self-employed. If you work a full time office job, there are limitations. I know. But let that not stop you from being creative and finding solutions that work for you.
You can walk during your lunch break (pack a lunch!). You can go into nature with your family on the weekend. You can get a dog :)
You can install monkey bars at home and sit on the floor instead of the couch.
There is A LOT you can do to be more active. It may just be a little inconvenient ... Have FUN!