I am one of those women that has tried many times to get into a daily exercise routine, but every time I get going, something disrupts my schedule or I get bored or the friend I was doing it with can’t make the same time work any more. You know the story, it’s like an on and off again thing. Gym memberships or couch to 5 k programs are great things, but when your time is limited or your energy is drained, it is to easy to put it on the back burner.
I remember hearing a story about an older couple who did everything the old school way, including washing laundry by hand, gardening and cooking. They were always fit and healthy, until they bought an electric washing machine. It saved them so much time and energy, but they started getting fat and feeling old. When they figured out the problem, they got rid of the machine and went back to the old way of doing things and lived long and healthy lives.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that you get rid of your washing machine, but think about it. How many gadgets and systems do you have in your home that make you lazy? Do you multi-task constantly to save steps? There two things I need to talk about here; one is your overall health and energy level, which really starts with what you are eating or not eating. The other is, how you can integrate more activity into your daily routine through task switching rather than multi tasking.
Let’s talk about diet first. I used to think I ate pretty good. I made sure to include protein with every meal, I ate salad and fruits and vegetables, I cooked most things from scratch. I didn’t eat a lot of bread or drink sugary drinks. I just didn’t understand why I never felt good. I felt tired a lot. The first several years of my marriage, I never felt rested, and I struggled to keep the house clean and prepare meals for just me and my husband. I was constantly looking for short cuts in my daily routine because being active was uncomfortable.
Fast forward a few years, I found Freelea the Banana girl (on youtube), eating 30 bananas a day (sometimes) and doing an intense exercise routine, claiming she did all of this because she felt great. It sounds crazy, but I was convinced to try it. I didn’t know much about the diet, just that you had to stop eating cooked foods and eat tons of fruit. I started drinking giant smoothies for breakfast, and eating tons of watermelon and bananas. I wouldn’t usually last all day completely raw, but I felt so energized. I started doing a couch to 5 k program with a friend, and the mornings where I started with raw food I did better. If I ate eggs or something “normal”, I didn’t last as long. I was experimenting for about 3 months, with maybe successfully eating 50-60% raw foods. I lost about 10 lbs, and was feeling better than I had felt in years and…. I got pregnant. It was a big surprise to me, because I had been trying to conceive for 5 years. I had miscarried at least 4 times. It was scary, and I didn’t know enough about the diet at the time to keep doing it, so I just tried to eat healthy in general and went on to have a somewhat complicated pregnancy (gestational diabetes), but a healthy baby. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was following Dr. Mark Hyman’s blood sugar solution diet, and it was helping me control my sugars while encouraging me to eat more vegtables. After I gave birth, I lost an additional 10 lbs and weighed the lowest I had weighed in 7 years, and I just felt better over all.
Now, about the exercise, I couldn’t seem to get back into it after the baby was born, because things were just to busy and complicated. I realized that there was plenty to do around my house, and keeping my house clean should be a priority. I started trying to undo the energy saving systems I had set up over the years, realizing they were in place because I didn’t have enough energy to go around before. I started doing laundry 1 load at a time and not saving a trip up and down the stairs by bringing the next load at the same time. A friend gave me inspiration for a cleaning up system where you choose a type of object such as books, pick all of them up, put them all away before moving on to the next type of item. It gets me moving, and it get’s my house clean without so much thinking about debating on where to start. I had been spending so much time thinking about what to do and how to do it most efficiently, that I was not getting anything done. Feeling better was key to this way of task-switching activity boost, with the added benefit of a cleaner house.
Beyond the indoor world, we have yard work and gardening. If you have any sort of yard, even if your landlord is supposed to take care of it, you can probably get involved in the upkeep. I found working in the dirt to be so rewarding, mentally and physically. My son loves to play outside, so I just have to let him get a little bit dirty while I dig or weed or prune my plants. If you are new to gardening, don’t bite off more than you can chew! Start with a small garden, things like; tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and a few herbs. You can grow food in pots too, just remember to water them more often then your plants in the ground.
Walk everywhere you can! If you live close to a grocery store, plan to walk their at least twice a week. Find places you enjoy walking to, such as the library, a park or a tree up the road and make them a part of your normal week.
To sum it up, start eating better, do your research and eat a nutrient dense diet that is very high in fruits, vegetables and other plants and you will start to feel that youthful energy that makes activity a pleasure. Than start looking for ways to improve your activity level around the house and yard and beyond.