How I Finally Found the Motivation to Start Exercising

Lisa SandersEducational Material

Today, I am stepping away from our usual discussions about child sleep consulting to talk about something a bit different, yet just as significant. Many parents I work with express a shared concern—they want to start exercising, but just can’t seem to find the time or motivation to do so. Trust me, I have been there.

Yes, I’m fully aware of the incredible benefits that regular exercise brings. It can help a lot in reducing the chance of heart problems. It also lowers the risk of getting major diseases like cancer or diabetes. Plus, exercise can be as helpful as some medicines in making us feel better when we are down or anxious. It is also great for our brain, helping us remember things and learn better. All these benefits! And yet, starting can be so hard.

Life as a parent is incredibly busy, and at times, overwhelming. Between caring for our children, managing household responsibilities, and fulfilling work commitment.  It is easy to put our own health on the back burner.

I understand that struggle well. For a long time, I told myself that I would start exercising tomorrow, only to find a new excuse when tomorrow came. It was a frustrating cycle of procrastination and guilt. 

In this article, I want to share my personal journey of how I finally got myself to start exercising. And once I started, the impact on my life and my ability to parent has been profound.

How Did I Start?

I realized that the journey to starting a regular exercise routine at home needed to begin with small, manageable steps. After all, the aim was not to transform my body overnight but to create a sustainable habit that could stand the test of time and the chaos of parenting.

I decided to turn to strength training using my body weight. Why? Because it was practical, required no special equipment, and could be done in the small pockets of time available to me. It was an exercise form that was flexible yet effective, aligning perfectly with my life’s unpredictable rhythm.

I started with the simplest of exercises. I didn’t aim to do a hundred push-ups or hold a plank for five minutes straight. No, I aimed to do just one. One push-up and a short plank hold. It sounded almost too simple, but that was the beauty of it. It was an achievable goal, a small step that I could take without feeling overwhelmed.

On the first day, after setting a daily alarm for 7:30 AM, I decided to dedicate just one minute to exercising. Yes, just 1 minute. I stood in my living room, took a deep breath, and did my one push-up and short plank. It was not perfect, but it was a start. And that was all that mattered. The next day, I did it again. And then again the next day. Slowly but surely, the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months.

With time, I increased my repetitions, not because I felt I had to, but because I wanted to! As of today, I have a 45-minute daily exercise routine. The small steps had led to progress, and progress felt good. I realized that the key was not in making grand plans or setting unrealistic goals. It was in consistent, daily effort, no matter how small.

I noticed changes, not just in my physical strength, but in my mental resilience as well. The exercises became a part of my daily routine, a moment of the day that was solely mine. On the days when the kids were a challenge and the house was a mess, my brief exercise routine became my anchor. It reminded me that I could handle whatever life threw at me, one push-up at a time.

A Simple Strategy for Starting Anything New

So, for all the parents out there feeling stuck, unsure of how to start, I say this – start small. Find an exercise that you can do at home, in the midst of your busy life. Set a goal so simple that it feels almost silly. And then, take the first step. Do it today. Do it now. Because that first step, no matter how small, is a giant leap towards a healthier, happier you.

I have uncovered some invaluable lessons that might just resonate with you too. If there is something you have been meaning to do, think about how you could simplify it to the point where it becomes an almost thoughtless daily task. For example, if you are looking to eat more leafy greens, perhaps you could start by adding just one lettuce leaf to your sandwich at lunch.

Remember, this small start isn’t your ultimate destination. These actions are mere stepping stones, laying the groundwork for a habit. But for now, embrace a task so straightforward that it is doable even when life feels like a juggling act gone wrong. On those tough days, believe me, doing something small and seemingly trivial is infinitely better than doing nothing at all. 

Give this approach a try. Your goal here is consistency, not perfection. Allow yourself to be average, but be consistently average. Commit to taking just one step, but ensure it is a step you take every single day.

And if this new habit doesn’t feel particularly significant at first, remind yourself that starting is often the hardest part. By taking that first step, you are creating a new neural pathway in your brain, setting the stage for lasting change. When a habit becomes a regular part of your routine, it becomes easier to do without having to think about it too much.

How ‘Atomic Habits’ Inspired Change

Reflecting on my personal journey, it all started with “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. In his book, Clear talks about the big impact that small changes and consistent habits can have on our lives. He shows us that it is the small, everyday actions that add up and lead to real, lasting change over time. His message is clear and simple – focus on making tiny improvements each day, and over time, you will see incredible results. This idea resonated with me and became part of my journey to establish a regular exercise routine.

Starting with just one push-up, one plank, and one minute each day, I began to build my habit. It was this commitment to taking small, consistent steps that made all the difference. 


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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck