Mid-Life Awareness: How to Create an Exercise Habit

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Last week we talked about changing eating habits. Today, we’re talking about exercise.

For some of you, this come naturally.  That’s not true for me, though.

I’m not someone who loves to exercise, but a few years ago I had a mid-life awareness (as opposed to a mid-life crisis) that if I wanted to stay active and healthy, I would need to work for it.

I’ve always hated any exercise that didn’t involve lifting books, but I decided to change my attitude.

It’s been more than ten years since I started thinking of myself as a person who works out.  After consistently focusing on physical activity, I’m reasonably fit, flexible, strong and have good balance. I can move through the world, doing the tasks I need to with no problems.

I started my fitness journey very gently.  Honestly, I felt kind of dumb. I knew there were people my age and older who worked out consistently and could do much more than I could do.

I needed to start at the very beginning though.

My progression and programs I used:

Here’s my progression over the years and some of the programs I used:

Walking + walking videos with Leslie Sansone and light weights

I didn’t even own weights when I started, so I used cans of food instead of one pound weights.

Curves gym

Everyone talks about joining a gym, but I didn’t like the idea of having men in the space, so I tried Curves, since it was for women. Most of the women were twenty years older than me, but that was inspiring. I’d watch these women come in every morning to work out and it showed me that I could also do the work to be fit.

Lots of outdoor walking in the mornings and evenings

For a long time, I had the habit of walking a couple miles outside each morning and often took walks in the evening too.

Healthy Moving program

I learned a lot from Jen Hoffman in her program. In fact, if I were just starting out now in trying to get fit, I’d start with Healthy Moving.

Yoga with Adrienne 30 day challenge

I’ve done this numerous times over the years, but I remember the first time I completed one of her 30 day challenges. I could feel improvement and I enjoyed myself too. There are quite a few years of these challenges on youtube.

Faster Way to Fat Loss

I did this program for years and had great success with it. Eventually, I cancelled it because we were moving and I just needed something different for a while. I’m thinking of going back to this program soon though. I like the structure and variety of the workouts. I’m not someone who can come up with my own workout.

I will say, other than the first six weeks, I didn’t follow the eating plan at all. She has you do carb cycling and some intermittent fasting. The low carb days did not work with my system at all. That said, if you’re new to the program, go ahead and give the food plan a try. Many, many people find success with it and you don’t know till you try.

Faster Way starts a new 6-week program on Monday, May 1. I highly recommend this program to kickstart you into working out and focusing on your eating.

Stretching and flexibility

For over a year, I focused a lot on flexibility. I did a set of stretches that my daughter taught me, along with yoga.

ATG workout 

I’ve been doing this workout plan for about six weeks. I like it so far. It’s helped me focus on leg strength and flexibility. As it progresses though, it seems that a gym would come in handy. I don’t have all the equipment needed for higher levels of the program, but I’m not a gym person. I need a home workout.

How to make working out a habit

Pick your time of day

I’ve found that having a set time of day for my workout is good for keeping the habit. For me, it has to be first thing in the morning. I need to workout before I can think of a million excuses not to. I roll out of bed and workout.

Choose your activity

There are a lot of different ways to get movement into your life. Depending on your goals, you may choose one program over another. And since your goals will change, along with your interests, you might need to change programs sometimes too. Just be sure to replace one program with another, instead of dropping it altogether.

Gym or home?

Some people love the social setting and accountability of going to a gym. Others like working out at home. Figure out which works best for you.

Track progress/track the habit

Be sure to track your progress. Moving up in weight, being able to do a deeper stretch, having stamina to do an activity for longer are all reasons to celebrate.

I like to use a habit tracker in my planner to track my workouts. I’ve also used a dedicated planner for fitness at times when I’m very focused on creating the habit or reaching certain goals.

Change your identity

Sometimes it’s helpful to change how you see yourself. I never thought of myself as someone who works out, so I never did any exercise. Once I decided that I was the type of person to be active and fit, I was able to change my actions.

Buy workout clothes

Having a few items of workout clothing is nice. It sends the message that when you put on those clothes, it’s time to get moving.

What works for you?

I’d love to know what works for you. What activities have you found to be fun or what programs have you tried? Leave a comment below and let me know.


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  1. I’m 74 and like you never saw myself as a person who works out. And like you I’ve determined that I must do so. I’m starting with chair yoga and aqua fitness just this week. Did aquafitness for Mind And Body and was encouraged that most people were my age or close. I’m recovering from serious back surgery and have been told I now have late stage degenerative disk disease. Exercise will be the difference between walking and a wheel chair. Talk about motivation.

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