hiking-iconSimple – it makes me feel good. Always has, ever since I was a kid. My three sisters and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to exercising. I’ve jogged, stretched, skated, biked, kettle belled, race walked, and chased myself around the world. All the while, they’ve reclined with a book, supine, and patted me on the head as I ran by, even though I’m sure they thought I was insane…

It’s been 40 years since I started got started in fitness. I’m a 50s-something female who played at sports in an era when there was virtually no recognition or career path for women athletes, but I did it anyway because I love it. I’ve been a competitive team athlete, a weekend warrior, a race walker, a runner, a weightlifter, a calisthenics devotee — all of those things in the quest for fitness.

Am I a top athlete? No. Am I a perfect size 2? No, in fact, I’ve gone up and down several sizes, several times over the years. But as I look back at all of the exercising I’ve done, I realized there was a flaw in my thinking – the pursuit of perfection. I was always thinking about “running a better 10k” or “improving core strength to improve your running time” or “the ideal aerobic combination to burn calories and lose fat.”

I don’t regret it. It was fun, but not as fun as it could have been. I wish I would have focused less on perfection and more on “playing.” I was always measuring my performance against goals set by someone else, whether it was a coach, a fitness book, a fitness expert, or an article I read in  Runners World. That was a bit of a mistake. Because in my mind, I never measured up because I rarely followed those plans to the 100% mark. To me that constituted failure.

That all changed in my mid-40s, when I met some other women athletes my age. I was now long past team sports due to business travel so I mostly exercised alone. I didn’t realize it but I was in a rut. Connecting with others my age was an eye opener. We started getting together on a regular basis to walk, jog, lift weights, etc. I had more fun, and learned more about fitness than I had in a long time! In fact, because of this, I think I am in the best shape I’ve been in 25 years.

The secret? FUN. PLAYING. Using your own judgment to exercise in the way that you really want to. Staying tuned to fitness ideas, but assessing them with your own psyche and body in mind. I wish I’d learned these things sooner. It’s had such an impact on my life that I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned here.

Next time: Fitness Plans: Make It Your Own to Make it Stick

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