Exercise has been an important part of my life since before I can remember. My parents live an active lifestyle, and my doctors encouraged them to promote the same with me. I grew up participating in dance classes and sports. Later, I was introduced to the gym, weightlifting, running and group fitness classes. As an adult, exercising six days a week for one to two hours daily has been a key factor in keeping me functional and out of the hospital.
I'd like to share some tips with you on how I motivate myself to stick with an exercise routine.
- Always have a goal! Set your sights high and map out a detailed plan to get there. Setting goals and following plans has pushed me to accomplish things that I never thought possible. A couple years ago, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. I was determined, but with 40 percent lung function, this was a huge stretch for me. I recruited my husband to be my running partner, and I went online and downloaded a novice training program, which guided my preparation. After almost four months of hard training, we crossed the finish line at 2:54! All the hard work paid off, and I was able to accomplish something that was a huge reach for me. Following a plan can lead to big success.
- Do something you enjoy and involve someone else. Don't make exercising miserable by choosing to run if you hate running or cycling if you can't stand being on a bike. I enjoy climbing and hiking. My sister, Olivia, and I are in the middle of a yearlong fitness challenge. We've each committed to climb 300 flights of stairs a week in 2016, totaling 31,200 floors! We've been climbing stair climbers, bleachers and outdoor staircases. Doing this with someone else has been great because we have an accountability partner in each other and we've been able to raise some money for a great cause at the same time.
- Don't make excuses. If you want to make it happen, you have to make the time for it. There are definitely other things I'd rather be doing, but treatments and exercise come first because these keep me healthy enough to invest in other things like work, relationships and hobbies.
- Keep your doctor in the loop. When I decided to train for my first half marathon, I told my CF care team right away. With limited lung function and diabetes, I had to make sure I was accomplishing my goal in a safe way. I met with my physical therapist to do an exercise tolerance test to make sure I didn't need supplemental oxygen while jogging and discussed with my dietitian the importance of proper nutrition to stabilize blood glucose levels. Safety is important.
- Invest in quality sneakers. I never thought this was a big deal until I reached my 30s. Now I realize the importance of good supportive footwear to avoid injury.
- Rest. Rest. Rest. Avoid burnout. Take a break. Even though cystic fibrosis never takes a break, I need a day of rest to feel ready to tackle a new week. I take a rest day every week.
- Reward yourself from time to time. Celebrate the small victories and give yourself a reward as you reach small goals. Sometimes it's as simple as going out for ice cream with a friend.
- Don't get discouraged when you have a bad workout. Setbacks are not the end of the world. We all have off days. Sometimes my worst workouts are followed by some of my best. It's important to get out there the next day and try again.