Don’t tell me you’re too busy to exercise

During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama consistently worked out six days a week, alternating between strength training and cardio, also fitting in pick-up basketball games, a couple of hundred rounds of golf and a boatload of baby-lifting.

If the former leader of the free world can fit in a daily workout, the rest of us have little excuse not to get our tuchuses off the couch.

Of course, I totally get the avoidance. I came late to the fitness game—very late. Well into my 30s, my idea of exercise was running to catch a cab in my stilettos (cardio) or carting a small human around on my hip (strength conditioning).

I had a full-time job in advertising and two young children. “Me time” was non-existent.

One cold New Year’s Day, I ditched the kids with my husband and just ran, aching to be alone and breathe fresh air. On that day, out of sheer frustration and desperation, I became a runner.

I didn’t run to get fit or to lose weight. I ran to regain some part of me that had disappeared during the time I exited two tiny people from my body, spent every waking hour trying to keep them alive, and struggled at a job that demanded more from me with each new client, each new campaign.

It was hard. I was flabby and out of shape. I hated running. But I loved being alone. I loved being surrounded by nature. I loved having thoughts that didn’t involve deadlines, dirty diapers or doctors’ appointments.

There were unintended consequences. I got fitter. I got happier. I lost some flab. I met a bunch of motivated, quirky people. I entered races. I became an athlete.

Six months after I ran screaming out of my door in Converse tennis shoes and an old sweatsuit, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t pretty. But it was done.

Many years and 19 marathons later, fitness is my jam. I bike, I swim, I CrossFit, I snowshoe, I kayak. I like a good hike. SUP? Yup!

Here’s the thing. Your body was made to move, so move it. Move it in ways that give you joy. Move it in ways that challenge you. Scared of heights? Get yourself over to the rock climbing gym and experience the thrill of conquering that demon. Release your inner dancing queen and sign up for tango lessons or Zumba classes.

Wait…you say you’re already fit and fabulous? Don’t rest on your laurels. Try something new. Learn a new sport. Learning new stuff is as good for your body as it is for your brain. Or take an unfit friend under your well-developed wing.

If none of this works for you, if you still prefer lounging to lunging, make small changes. Make a bunch of them. Pace while you talk on the phone. Do sit-ups and push-ups while you watch the evening news. Take the freakin’ stairs. All the damn time. Every time a commercial comes on TV, stand up and run in place until it’s over.

You live in Maine, one of nature’s wonders. Take regular walks and congratulate yourself on your life choices. Buy a pair of snowshoes and cheer the incoming snowstorms. While you’re at it, find a workout buddy. It’s not so easy to skip a workout if someone is waiting for you to show up.

Now go out there and get moving. Need a little motivation? Email me at—I’ve got plenty to spare!

Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats.

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