I’m huge on fitness, and by now you probably know that my mantra is: Move for at least an hour every day. As a result, you may think that I’m super-excited every single day about lifting weights or doing a barre workout.
However, I have a confession to make. If you picture me kicking off my high heels each day, lacing up my tennis shoes, and RACING for that gym with a smile on my face and a song in my heart… think again! Often, when I’m tired and my feet hurt and my brain is toast, all I want to do is sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. Other days, I look at my to-do list and can’t help thinking about the chunk of time that exercising will take up. And sometimes, I admit… I just feel lazy and don’t want to get off my butt.
That’s when I start thinking of excuses: “I’m too tired.” “I had a tough day.” “I have too many other things to do.” However, I know better than to fall for these excuses. That’s because I did it once, and I paid a big price. At the time, I was busy writing books, raising kids, and running my full-time practice. My days were packed with obligations from sun-up until sundown, and because I was young and in good shape, I persuaded myself that workouts could move way down on my agenda. So over time, I slacked off more and more on my exercise. (And I’m not proud of how often I cheated on my diet, either.)
I got away with it for a while… but gradually, my slim and toned body started to turn to porridge. My butt got flat. My arms got flabby. I was tired, I was moody, I didn’t sleep well, and I didn’t look good. The lesson I learned from this period in my life is that EXERCISE NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY. When I stopped making excuses and started working out regularly again, I quickly became younger, heathier, and slimmer. I had energy again. I was happier. So now, if I hear those excuses rattling around in my brain, I nip them in the bud—and instead, I think of all of the reasons to put my body in motion. Here are five of the biggest ones:
I KNOW IT’LL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER—NOW AND LATER.
When I’m tired or moody, I really don’t want to move. However, I know from experience that within minutes, a workout will lift my mood and give me a big shot of energy. And that’s not all; research shows that in the long run, it can protect against depression and anxiety.
I KNOW IT’LL PROTECT ME FROM THE DANGERS OF DECONDITIONING.
As I learned the hard way, “use it or lose it” isn’t just a cliché—it’s a fact. And unfortunately, you can start “losing it” pretty fast. When you stop exercising, your body quickly starts to devolve into a state that doctors call deconditioning. Within as little as two weeks, your blood sugar levels begin to rise, your heart starts pumping blood less efficiently, your muscles get weaker, and your joints get stiffer. This is serious stuff—and just thinking about it gets me off that couch.
I KNOW IT’LL MAKE MY SKIN LOOK YOUNGER.
A good workout always gives me a “glow”—and better yet, exercise takes years off my skin. Think I’m exaggerating? Then consider this: One recent study comparing exercisers to sedentary people found that the skin of the exercisers who were over 40 “was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age, even if they were past age 65.” The researchers next asked a group of sedentary seniors to start exercising, and voila!—in just three months, their skin looked younger. One researcher participating in the study said, “I don’t want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see.”
I KNOW IT’LL MAKE ME SLEEP BETTER.
There’s nothing I hate more than tossing and turning all night when I need my rest—and luckily, exercise is one of the best cures for insomnia. As research shows, it can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have more refreshing sleep.
I KNOW IT’LL HELP TO PROTECT MY BRAIN
I’m over fifty now—and while I want to look fabulous as I age, I’m even more concerned about staying young mentally. Here again, exercise can make a big difference. In fact, researchers now know that exercise is one of the best defenses against Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study in Sweden followed more than 1,200 people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, assigning half of them to a program involving regular exercise and good nutrition.
One of the researchers in the study said, “We were surprised that we were able to see a clear difference already after two years.” The people who exercised and ate right improved their memory, their executive function (which includes skills like decision-making and planning), and their cognitive speed. — Even when I’m tuckered out, super-busy, or just plain lazy, thinking about these five benefits gets me off the couch and back to the weights or the ballet barre. So the next time you don’t feel like budging, keep these powerful motivators in mind—and let them inspire you to put your own body in motion!
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!