Monday, January 31, 2011

Why I Exercise At The Crack Of Dawn

Finding time to exercise is hard.   I'm aware of all the reasons exercise gets sidetracked because there are so many things vying for our attention at the end of a day.  Do laundry, make dinner, pack lunches, stop by the grocery store, pick up a birthday present, wash the dog....the list goes on and on and on.

We all start off with good intentions like when we joined that cool, new gym or bought that really cute workout outfit.  We promise ourselves that this week will be the week we start exercising.  Excuses be damned!  But, it's too hard to walk past the pile of laundry and too hard to extract any sort of motivation after dinner. Lethargy kicks in and the exercise regimen is put on hold once again.

That's why I exercise at the crack of dawn.  The only excuse I have to fight at the beginning of the day is the urge to sleep in. Take it from me the urge to sleep in is far easier to fight than the other one million excuses I can find at night.  I used to try to find time to exercise in the evening and failed miserably night after night.  Something always needed to get done.  By the time my to-do list was complete it was time for bed.  I figured there had to be a better way.

When I turned 30 I quit smoking and made a plan to get healthy.  I decided the only way I would consistently exercise was if I worked out in the morning.  I didn't really want to get up before work to exercise because I was never what you would consider a "morning person" but I needed to do something.  I tried and failed and tried again and just kept trying to get up with that damn alarm.  You know what happened?  It finally worked.  No more excuses.  I was in a groove and not only did I find time to exercise, I developed a habit that has continued for 11 years.  Yes, it was hard to get used to at first, but like any other habit, it's now a typical part of my day.

Some mornings I want to throw the alarm clock across the room when it goes off at 5:15 am.  I'm not always eager to get up and start my day before the birds (or any other living creature) are even awake.  But, I always feel better after I do. I always feel better knowing that I'm starting my day off with one thing already crossed off my to-do list - one thing I've done today just for me. 

Getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise isn't for everyone.  But if you are struggling to find time to exercise, I urge you to set your alarm early and see what happens.  You might just develop a morning exercise habit, too.  It's not as bad as you think.  When I'm done exercising and the house is still quiet, I grab a cup of coffee and take a deep breath. Ahhhh.

Let the day begin.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

When my sister and I used to tune my mom out because we were far too busy to listen to her or we just didn't want to hear what she had to say, she would repeat the same two irritating sentences over and over again.  She would shout in the most infuriatingly sarcastic tone, "Am I speaking in a foreign language?" and "Did a train just go through this room?" as if our selective listening was a result of our obvious inability to understand English.

Oh, we understood English.  We just chose not to respond.  Yelling typically ensued as my sister and I rolled our eyes in an only-a-sibling-would-understand kind of way while we watched my mom morph into a ranting, crazy woman.  I would clear my throat self-indignantly and say to my sister, "I will never yell at my kids like that."  Clearly I thought there was a better way to handle children than yelling so hard every blood vessel popped in your face. I mean, what was she so mad about anyway?

OK, so I get it now.  Kids don't pay attention.  She yelled because my sister and I weren't listening to her.  I yell because my kids don't listen to me.  I've tried to uncover the secrets of zen motherhood by trying scream-free parenting techniques, deep breathing and repeating mantras ("I will relish the simple moments with my children") but sometimes they just don't want to listen and I just want to scream.  When I've exhausted all of my resources and I want my kids to do what I'm asking them to do, I end up with a wicked case of ranting, crazy woman and yell ""I'm not talking for my health here, people!"

My younger self promised that I never would, but I scream at the top of my lungs sometimes because that's the only way to get my kids' attention.  When I enlist the help of my deep, guttural - can you hear me now- voice that even scares me sometimes, they stop in their tracks.  Oops.  Mom means business now.  Did you see her blood vessels pop? 

I used to think I was failing miserably as a parent because I yell at my kids.  Talk to any number of mothers, who are honest about it anyway, and you'll find that most of us scream a lot more than we want to.  Whew.  It's not just me.  If you aren't screaming at your kids I give you kudos but please know that  I secretly think either you or your kids are part Android. 

The rest of us are just human, that's all.

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