By Chinwe Obinwanne
The alarm clock chimed for the third time and Anna hit the snooze button yet again. She couldn’t bring herself to get up from the sleep she was enjoying too much just to exercise. She had tried it for some days and realized what an awful failure she was at beginning her fitness journey. The thought of giving one hour made her pull her duvet over her face and sink deeper into sleep. This feeling made her feel like a failure. And she didn’t like failing at anything.
It was eight months after the birth of her third baby boy Kamsi and Anna wasn’t happy with how she felt on the inside and how she looked on the outside. Her energy level was low, she felt older than her age and whilst her weight fluctuated back and forth, her major concern was her belly which made her still look 6 months pregnant.
She went on a slimming tea drinking spree but the results she expected were not forthcoming. Her friend Sola convinced her to stay the course, it would eventually work. Well, she tried but again fell flat on her face.
Anna decided to stop kidding herself and finally begin the fitness journey her husband Nonny had always advised her to begin. This was still the first week and she wasn’t as motivated as she would have loved to be. As these thoughts swam freely in her head, she knew that to achieve success at this journey, she had to make a conscious decision to take the bulls by the horn and ride it come hell or high waters.
The fourth time the alarm chimed, Anna pushed herself sleepily from the bed, turned on the light and looked straight at her bedside clock. It was still 4.55am. She whipped out her mobile phone and went straight to Instagram to soak in a little motivation to exercise. She had just 25 minutes before she had to bath the kids and dress them up for school, put their lunch boxes in place, have her own bath and get ready for work. She must leave home at 6.30am to successfully combat the dangerous Lagos traffic.
Just like a message from God sent directly to help her, she saw a motivational fitness post that gave her hope. It simply read “You don’t have to put in 1 hour every day to exercise. Start small. Start with 15 minutes every day. Then increase gradually as it becomes a habit.”
“15 minutes? That I can do daily”, thought Anna. This sudden realization brought with it strength, determination and motivation. Now Anna remembered that little quote about little drops of water making a mighty ocean. She was fully geared to begin dropping small amounts of workout into this fitness ocean she was set to swim in.
Are you stuck in the chaos of life, family and work that you feel like you can’t create any time to exercise? Just like Anna, you too can take that big decision to start small. Start small with eliminating junk from your diet. Start small with portion control and even if you start with 10 minutes of full-body High-Intensity Interval Training exercise(s) three times a week and make it a habit, you will notice changes that will encourage you.
The trick is to begin, the second is to stick with it and the third is to be your own motivation even on days when your body is screaming NO. When you gradually get the hang of exercising with the few minutes you set out, you may be motivated to challenge yourself by adding some more minutes and more resistance.
Squeezing in fitness and healthy eating to an already busy life is not easy for any woman or mother, but building a strong will and resilience helps to walk through the seemingly hard wall.
Remember this Mahatma Gandhi quote: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
This article was first published in BusinessDay Weekend newspaper.
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