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The Evolution of Fitness from Dreaded Task to Lifestyle (guest post).

Posted Dec 01 2011 3:33am

While writing Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom , we surveyed more than 200 moms and learned that those moms who already make fitness a habit aren’t in it for weight loss or a tighter tummy. Surprised?

Oh sure, many of us start out for those reasons, but that’s not why we stick with our workouts. Over time, what initially gets us motivated (like the extra weight) becomes less important. Those motivators peel away to reveal a deeper motivation, one that has nothing to do with jean size.

Here’s what we mean. Check out what these moms say in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom about why they exercise:

 I want my kids, especially my daughter, to see a mom who is fit and not obsessing about her body.

 I was never the athletic kid or the skinny kid (I am still not skinny), but the pride I have in my newfound strength keeps me going.

It allows me time to pray and time to appreciate being outside.

 It helps me get my head on straight. I feel better organized after I am done.

 I don’t want to be a boring couch potato mom who can’t be active with my kids.

We’re pretty sure the moms above initially wanted to “get their body back” like the rest of us, but kept going for entirely different reasons. Motivation matters in a fit lifestyle, but so do other practical factors that create a fitness habit. In Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom we write about the importance of crossing over from “exercise as dreaded task” to fitness as a habit by finding activity that:

 is Happy inducing,

Get sweaty in ways that bring you joy and make you smile. Setting and accomplishing goals will enhance that workout high.

 is Authentic activity,

Pursue fitness as a mission to find activity that is an extension of yourself; something that fits like your favorite pair of jeans. But don’t be afraid to try new things!

makes you Better off than before

Sure you’ll feel better after a workout—physically and mentally—but also empowered, which spills over into other areas of your life.

Integrates easily into your life

Workouts should be neither too burdensome to pursue nor too time consuming. Choose activity that slides right into your schedule, or at least into your chaotic life.

 and is Time valued activity.

There will come a point when workouts move higher on your to-do list because you really want to get it done—not just reap the benefits, like losing weight or a stronger core. You start to exercise because you want to not because you have to.

Once you’ve arrived at this place where fitness is self-perpetuating, fitness is much more than a habit; its a lifestyle.

This is a terrific position to be in, for sure, but all of us living the fit life know, fitting fitness into our day—especially with children around—can still be challenging. That’s what the rest of our book is about, right down to the “Sweaty Decision Tree” in the appendix that helps you decide if skipping a workout makes sense or if instead you need to talk yourself into a good sweat.

The beauty of living a fit lifestyle is that you know if a workout doesn’t happen today, it almost always will tomorrow.


Kara Douglass Thom and Laurie Kocanda are co-authors of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom

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