I’m on my own path of exercise and it’s important to do what I enjoy and what works best for me, not what everyone else is doing and enjoying.
I used to do the hour long P90X every morning around 6AM before class, or run intervals on the treadmill for 60 minutes, or go to boxing classes with my mom…all of which are great but also really intense. Some people thrive off of grueling workouts like that, but I am not one of them. It was hard for me to accept that about myself, which is why I put up with it for so long but I hated every minute of it. In the middle of the workout I’d think, “Why am I doing this? I hate this. I can’t believe I have to do this tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, for the rest of my capable life”. When you’re doing any type of exercise that makes you feel that way, it seems like it would be hard to get yourself to continue to do it, doesn’t it? So in reality, it kind of defeats the purpose.
Exercise is supposed to be something you do for not only your body but also your mind and soul. It shouldn’t have to be grueling and unbearable and it’s unfortunate that we think it needs to be. All of the expectations and pressure can be too much sometimes and may often have the opposite effect on any kind of progress or goal. What I find works best for me is just saying, “just get out there, get moving and break a sweat, however you want to do it”. It gives you so many options to get creative, have fun, and get in touch with what your body really needs in that moment, not to mention releases all of that pressure we put on ourselves to have a perfect, arduous workout we’re probably going to end up resenting.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe we need to challenge ourselves but there is a fine line between challenging and downright miserable. And like I said before there are people who do genuinely love the kind of exercise that I personally find unbearable but if they are happy and loving it then all the power to them!
So if you are one of those people, this post probably won’t speak to you, but for all the readers who are like me, I hope these activities bring you as much enjoyment and inspiration as they do me.
1. Paddleboard Yoga…or just paddleboarding…or just yoga!
Anything where I can be out on the water and in the sun…sign me up! Paddleboarding is one of my favorite activities to do. It’s an incredible workout but it doesn’t feel like one because it’s so fun! My boyfriend (Blake) and I love to paddle around and explore new areas. I usually get antsy and lose patience relatively quickly so that’s when I start messing around with some yoga. It’s not regimented and I have no routine… I just do what feels right! The back-bend pictured above is the trickiest thing I’ve done and I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to do it, but it never hurts to try! I have surprised myself so many times just by saying “lets see if I can do this”. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong but the worst that can happen is you just fall into the water! It’s a nice refresher anyways ;). Before you know it, you’re out of breath, a little shaky, and paddling back to shore. Definitely beats going to the gym, if I do say so myself!
If you don’t have access to any bodies of water or a paddleboard, regular yoga is just as great! I usually just listen to my body, tune in to my energy level and go from there. Some days I hold planks, squats, pushups and any other position I find myself in and am sweaty, shaky and tired by the time I’m done. Other days my body just needs more of a meditation/stretch session when I’m feeling really anxious, ungrounded, and disconnected to myself. It just depends on the day!
2. Channel Your Inner European
Walk everywhere you can! When I was in Europe all everyone did was walk and I loved it! Europeans make it so easy to stay active, so I try to incorporate that whenever I can.
It may seem a little generic and common, and the US definitely doesn’t have the walkability that Europe has, but it’s the activity that I do the most, simply because you don’t need anything! Well, except a buddy. You don’t even need one of those, but it definitely does make it more fun. I love to walk with my dog, Gordo; he’s the creamy little meatball you can barely make out in the picture above. He may not seem like much of a walker, but he can go pretty far! We just love to be outside with nature in a beautiful area. That’s probably why I find it so enjoyable to do all the time; it really helps when you have nice things around you to look at and appreciate. It’s very therapeutic.
[Gordo looking svelte after one of our walks]
When I’m at home on Cape Cod, we always go straight to the beach. When we’re at my apartment in Orlando, there’s a great little park we go to at the end of the street where Gordo can run free. That way, I can walk around the loop at my own, faster pace, and Gordo can hang back and catch up as he pleases. He usually falls behind sniffing some bush and then sprints to catch up. He takes it upon himself to do his own interval training 😉 Hehe go Gordo!
Sometimes if I have extra energy that day I’ll do a bench workout and some walking lunges and squats, too. I like to challenge myself and see how many I can do until I absolutely can’t any longer! I never count reps or sets and never compare myself to past workouts I’ve had. Again, I just listen to my body.
Hiking is also something I love that I wish I could do more. I usually don’t hike unless I’m in a mountainous area, like Vermont. Much of my family lives there, so when I visit I make a point to go. Over the summer Blake and I hiked up Mt. Abraham [pictured], which was really tough! It took us about 2 hours up and 2 hours down, and we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. However, we had a blast and came out strong! And, the view at the top was so worth it! It was physically one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but there’s something about being in that atmosphere that makes you love every minute. So if you have access to hiking trails, take advantage! You won’t regret it!
If I could swim everyday I would! Swimming is an exercise that works almost every muscle in your body at once, but again, it doesn’t feel like typical exercise! I love to throw on some goggles, swim around and see where I end up. Or if I’m with friends, it’s fun to challenge one another to swim out to some buoy or dock that’s in the distance. It really tires you out!
Playing in the waves is also a good workout too! A couple weeks ago Blake and I were on vacation in South Beach. We spent most of our beach day in the ocean taking on the waves. We were laughing and goofing off the whole time, I didn’t even realize how tired and out of breath I was! That’s what it’s all about 🙂
But regardless of what you do, just do something. Play volleyball at the beach with all your friends, cross country ski/snowshoe in your back yard after a snow storm, gather everyone up at a family reunion for a game of soccer or football, just get moving and the rest will follow!
I must say, I was hesitant going into this blog post because I felt somewhat hypocritical, like I wasn’t the right person to be writing it. As I’ve mentioned I’m not some avid exerciser or intense CrossFitter nor do I think I ever will be. But while writing this post I’ve realized, that’s okay. I’m on my own path of exercise and it’s important to do what I enjoy and what works best for me, not what everyone else is doing and enjoying. People are different and we need to recognize that. It’s best to dance to the beat of your own drum, whatever that may be, especially when it comes to health and fitness. So take my advice or leave it, but dance away my friends and love every minute of it!