Exercise Made Simple


Exercise Made Simple

My motivation to exercise tends to go through highs and lows. Some seasons, I exercise to excess and others, not nearly enough. I read the latest article telling me what the new “best” way to exercise is. And that seems to change from year to year. Its cardio – no its weights – no its cross fit –no its… The truth is – any activity is better than no activity. So don’t worry about the latest fad exercise program.

If you struggle to be consistent in your activity plan, like me, here are a few ideas that may help.

  1. Use exercise as a way to feel better, healthier and have more energy. Many studies have shown that weight loss is much more tied to what you eat than how many hours you are putting in exercising. In fact, when I was training 12-15 hours a week for a half-ironman, I actually gained weight. No – it wasn’t muscle either. Since I was training so much, I unconsciously gave myself permission to eat everything in sight. You can’t make up for a bad diet with exercise!

 If your only motivation to exercise is to lose weight, it will be hard to stick with it especially if the scale isn’t moving. So, workout for your health and wellbeing. The rewards will be longer lasting than just working out for weight loss.

  1. Pick an activity that you enjoy. I have a son who really enjoys weight lifting, another who loves long distance running, and another whose favorite is hiking. They do those activities because they like them. And all three of them get the benefits of regular exercise, even though they do very different things.

I love walking, biking and swimming – hence triathlon. Except that triathlon includes running, and running quite honestly, is generally miserable for me. Once I realized that, and switched to race walking, I found that I am much more excited about my workout every day.  Also, if you hate the gym, don’t think that paying a bunch of money for a membership is going to motivate you. You might force yourself to go for a few weeks, but soon your money will just be going to waste.

  1. Pick an activity that is convenient and simple to do. Swimming is another sport that I enjoy, but the closest lap pool is 40 miles away, so it is not something I can do very often. I’m just not going to drive into town 3 times a week to hit the pool. So be a realist when you plan your fitness program. For years, I have used exercise DVDs because – wait for it – they are convenient and simple to use. Right there in my basement, with no worries about who is going to see me, or cleaning up to go workout, I can exercise in peace.

That being said, you may be a person who is energized by working out with others. If so, find a walking partner, or an exercise class. Join a challenge on Fitbit or Garmin. There are a lot of ways to use technology to help you get motivated. One place I used to work had a yearly step challenge where we all wore a pedometer and got prizes for improvement as well as most steps.

  1. Any activity is better than none. It’s better to start small and build up, than it is to go too hard and too fast and end up quitting a couple of weeks later. There are lots of great beginner exercise plans on the internet. Just be sure to choose something simple that you know you will enjoy.

The benefits of regular exercise make it worth the effort to get it done. Your improving health and your higher energy level will be the best reward!


Home Decor

Minimalism and Home Décor

More thoughts from my lovely daughter in law. 

I have found myself at a very transitional phase of life. Nearing mid-thirties and about to have my fourth child, I have opted to pursue a minimalist lifestyle. However, I have also adopted several other interests that I am currently trying to reconcile with my new minimalist mindset. I enjoy woodworking and refinishing furniture, I am also (slowly) decorating my house in a modern farmhouse style that I love. With all the different interests I often find myself torn between wanting to update the décor in my house and not wanting to accumulate anymore things.

My décor style before I adopted modern farmhouse was nonexistent. I was a bargain shopper and would often end up purchasing items simply because the price was right. I paid no mind to how it would fit into a cohesive design nor whether it was needed or even really wanted. Since discovering the beauty of the farmhouse look I have set my mind on how I can really create a unified space.  Since then, I have gotten rid of a lot of items that I was holding onto either for utilitarian purposes or simply because I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. One of the pieces I recently parted with was a rather large ottoman. I really did like this piece of furniture and had moved it to several different places in our home trying to make it work. In the end, I conceded that it just wasn’t useful to us. It ended up being a source of discontentment for me because it always seemed to be in the way. Since getting rid of it, I haven’t missed it. In fact, our living space is much more appealing to me without it and I enjoy being in the space more. As with many descriptions from beginning minimalists, when I finally bring myself to throw things away, it is as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel lighter … despite being 38 weeks along with baby #4!

The balance I have found is between letting things go and consciously deciding what I want to complete my modern farmhouse vision. I now don’t look for bargains, necessarily, but I look for things that I truly love. If something I am interested in costs more than about $30, I wait. I don’t buy things impulsively, but wait until I am in a good spot financially and emotionally to make the purchase. While I wait to purchase an item, I can determine if I really want/need it and often end up not buying it. Without the purchase, I am contributing to my minimalist pursuit. If I do make the purchase, I do so without regret.

The other part that I love is making my own things to fit into the space. I appreciate the beauty of the object and it is more meaningful because it was crafted by my own hands. With 3 kids, I don’t always get everything built that I plan. Nor does it happen as fast as I would like. This again, adds to the minimalism in my home. In my living room, I made the farmhouse clock over the couch using a cable spool I got for free and I made the side tables from some “junk” wood I found in the back of a friend’s truck (that was set to be thrown away). There are stories behind these pieces that make them special to me. They look beautiful, are useful, but also remind me of people that I love.

I am not sure if “minimalist modern farmhouse” is a recognized design style, but I think that is how I would most accurately describe my style. As with the concept of minimalism in general, I have adapted design ideas to suit my own personal desires. I want to create a home that needs little maintenance in the short-term and the long-term. For instance, when looking at a strictly farmhouse style, though I love the look, often the spaces are filled up in every corner. Although they are filled with beautiful pieces, when I see this, all I can think about is having to dust all those items. Another thing I see, is how often a space is redecorated by people. Rather than continually changing the space to keep my interest; I would rather spend time creating a space that my family can enjoy for a long time without putting forth any more effort to change it.

For me, balance is a necessity in my minimalist journey. Balance between bringing in new and getting rid of the old. Balance between wanting to live in a beautiful space with my family and not spending all my time cleaning that space nor all my money decorating that space. I am working to find my balance but am very happy with the results so far.