When I was competing, I had the best excuse to be in the gym all day every day. Still, it had to be fun for me. I had to have a Saturday activity that was fun, like in-line skating inside a huge gym where I could go really fast.
When it comes to health and fitness, your motivation should be a no-brainer; facts prove exercise and eating well can add longevity and quality of life. Your inspiration to eat healthy and to exercise could come from many different things—whether you want to fit into a pair of jeans or you have some real, substantial athletic goal. Your inspiration changes all the time.
The main thing is that exercise has to be fun. It shouldn’t feel like punishment. If you have a long to-do list with an exercise routine at the end of the day and you don’t get to it, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Just move ahead and look forward to your next workout. If you’re procrastinating about working out, then whatever you’re doing isn’t working for you. You need to check into something different.
Be brave. Mix it up. Your body loves changes. Muscle memory is quick. Once you’ve done the same thing a few times, change up your routine, do something crazy. Take a class in jazz boxing or some dance from a foreign country. Whether it’s running five miles or getting together with a group of people to walk your dogs, it’s a matter of doing something that works for you.
What Works for You
Exercise is a way for you to find out about yourself— who you are, what your makeup is, what works for you. Do you need intense power workouts? Or does stretching and breathing work better for you? Do you work out by yourself or with others? The bottom line is what makes you feel good about you. Build your exercise program around that, and you’ll have your best chance for success. It doesn’t take much time for your body to respond.
Exercising at a comfortable, talking pace—with a heart rate of about 115- 130—is still the most beneficial way to work out. You’re cruising along, breathing harder, but you still can carry on a conversation.
I think people have to be smart about the outcome they’re looking for. Some obvious outcomes pertain to your heart and body functioning well. But you’re also looking for a feeling. You should feel energized, happy, free.
There’s a saying, “If the love of what you do exceeds the effort of doing it, success is inevitable.” That’s work, that’s play, that’s motherhood. You’re in the driver’s seat. Take charge of your life, but also give yourself a break.
Staying Motivated—and Positive
I asked Phil and Steve Mahre, some of greatest skiers ever, what they do when they have a bad day. And they said you’re going to have them. You just get through them as fast as you can. That gave me permission to not feel like I had to figure it out when things weren’t going well.
If I had a bad day when I was training, I’d say, “Let me do something else.” I think you can still have that kind of attitude. All decisions you make for yourself should allow you to feel happy and free to some degree.
Beware of negative inspiration, like guilt. Focus on what you stand to gain from eating well and exercising—not what you stand to lose if you don’t. If you’re thinking, “Oh my doctor says I should do that, my girlfriends all do this, and boy, one of my friends is really motivated,” you may be focusing on the wrong things. If your inspiration is fitting into a new pair of jeans, and you feel guilty about everything you’re eating, that’s not healthy. You need to focus on you and what works for you.
When I was preparing to compete, there were many types of energy or pressures that came my way. I had to make it all positive and use that to my advantage. Being positive is always best. You’re going to live longer, with a smile on your face, projecting positively. And you’ll be more attractive, too.
Visualizing the Benefits
don’t go to the gym—I’ve done that enough in my lifetime— but I do enjoy being active. Today, I’d rather work my horses and shovel manure than go to the gym—and I think that’s OK.
I’m always doing something. With my 3-year-old son, even if we’re watching a video, we’re on the floor doing core work or pushups or breathing and stretching. While I’m on the phone, brushing my teeth or doing the dishes, I’m always doing calf raises, going from flat foot to tiptoe and balancing, then repeating.
While I’m doing calf raises, I’m usually thinking about how I’m going to benefit. I’m thinking about pushing as hard as I can to be in one of the first chairs on the lift when it opens. I’m thinking about ripping turns down the mountain.
I’m willing to do some work to be able to do that.