Anyone attempting to follow my Monday Message Challenge last semester probably noticed that I didn’t do such a great job. I completed a few of the first tips of the semester, and then basically stopped writing anything about it. In the spirit of wellness and letting myself make mistakes, I’m not going to offer excuses or beat myself up about this, but I am going to try again! This time I’ll be slightly less ambitious – I recognize that there may be weeks when the tip isn’t easy for me to do, or when I have too much other stuff going on, but when possible, I’ll still be trying our weekly wellness tips, and posting about it here!
This month’s theme is Move Well, Be Well, so we’re offering a variety of tips for integrating movement into your daily life. I’ve always enjoyed exercise, but it’s typically one of the first things to go when my schedule gets too hectic. Deciding not to work out on any given day can definitely free up more time for studying (or Well-Woman blogging!) but it also tends to leave me with less energy and focus, and I don’t get to do something I genuinely enjoy.
This week, our tip was all about setting SMART goals – as in Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. We suggested trying to commit to doing a fitness activity three times this week, and checking in at the end of the week to see what worked (or didn’t!) about your strategy. This semester, my SMART (if I do say so myself) strategy has been to take it day by day. Every morning, I go over my schedule for the day, and try to find a block of time that I could spend in the Barnard Weight Room. If I really don’t have a free hour on any given day, or don’t feel up to working out, I don’t beat myself up about it. I do prioritize getting there a little more for the rest of the week, though! I also always make sure to give myself some weekly days off regardless of my schedule, so I don’t feel too overwhelmed. Generally, I like to have an ideal number of days in mind at the beginning of the week, so I can take stock of whether I got there or not.
This week, and this semester in general, I’ve found that this strategy has really worked for me! It’s very specific (find a time that works each day, and go to the Barnard Weight Room) and measurable (did I do it today? How many times did I go this week?). For me, it’s also been attainable and realistic – I live close to the Weight Room, and I can usually find a block of time to head over there a few times a week if I’m consciously thinking about it. One other thing that’s really worked for me is trying new varieties of physical activity. Until this semester, my workouts tended to be very cardio-focused, which got a little monotonous. Lately I’ve been adding more strength training – it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s really fun, which is definitely helping to motivate me.
It’s important to remember that there are a variety of things that can make it harder or easier for people to incorporate movement into their lives. Although I’m busy, I’m fortunate to have a schedule with several large blocks I can easily convert into gym time. Additionally, as a Barnard student, I have access to exercise equipment without paying additional fees, and gym memberships or classes can be prohibitively expensive for a lot of people. Some people also have complicated relationships with exercise because of struggles with body image or any number of other, very fraught issues. We shouldn’t shame anyone for their decision to exercise or not, but if getting more exercise is a priority for you, trying to set concrete and realistic goals is a great way to make it happen!