Channeling my inner athlete: Move it or lose it.

John A. MacLaughlin, 1912 U.S. Fencing Team

It may surprise you to learn that I am a closet jock. Exercise is in my blood. I come from a line of athletes, including an Olympian. Yet, for the last many years I lived in my head. My body kept telling me to move more. I ignored the signals and paid a heavy price: my health suffered.

Now that I have recovered fully, I have no choice but to move it or lose it. I started slowly, putting my big toe in to test the water. I walk to the grocery store; I go to stretch class; I garden; and I’ve started riding my bike 8-10 miles once a week. I’ve realized that (1) movement can be FUN and (2) afterward, I feel GREAT. My challenge now is to form some new habits.

I’ve been taking a very informal poll to get some tips from active people I know. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Some people make exercise part of their daily lives – like brushing their teeth. Whether it’s to walk, run, cycle, swim or do yoga, they just get up and go. No excuses. Others set goals. For example, they might choose a half-marathon that is six months off. Then they train, running or walking, week in and week out. By the time the morning of the event arrives, they are ready. They enjoy their moment in the sun. Then it’s on to the next event.

The common theme is consistency. And, for some, it’s companionship. Being part of a group exercise class or training group helps them show up day after day.

If you like to challenge yourself, check out for all kinds of events. I’m thinking about training for a one-mile swim in October to support the Women’s Cancer Resource Center. It’s time to put more than my big toe in the pool!

What works for you?

I would love to hear from you… Please comment below.


About Susan MacLaughlin

A health & wellness coach and workshop leader, Susan empowers people to take charge of their health.
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4 Responses to Channeling my inner athlete: Move it or lose it.

  1. Tom Schweich says:

    So here’s my method, started when I was swimming every other day. I had the One Lap Rule. When it was time to go swimming, I had to go to the pool and swim one lap. Then if I didn’t want to swim any more, I could get out and go home. I think I did that twice over about a three year period. For volleyball, the One Lap Rule meant I had to go and warm up. Then if I didn’t want to play volleyball, I could go home. Did that once, when I was getting over a cold. For bicycling, I just have to get out there, then under the one lap rule, I can go straight to the coffee place and have coffee while everyone else rides. Never did that, but I have shortened my route a couple of times. It has to be a real One Lap Rule, i.

  2. Tom, I love this!! Thanks for the “One Lap Rule” suggestion.

  3. -Andrew- says:

    Unlike Susan with her Olympian ancestry, I come from a long line of people from whom exercise consisted of walking down to the deli and kvetching. So when I started cycling 4 years ago, I had some cultural barriers to overcome.

    Joining a club with a scheduled weekly ride really worked for me. I knew that no matter what happened on Saturday morning at 8am I’d be on my bike for 4-6 hours of exercise. Four years later, I’m still doing it. Every Saturday (when I’m in town, which is most of the time, and it’s not pouring rain, which is almost never). When I get rides in during the week or on Sundays, that’s just a bonus.

    When I first started, a 30 mile ride seemed like madness. Now I ride a few centuries and around 3000 miles a year-all of this made possible by a weekly commitment.

  4. Impressive! I like the idea of a scheduled, group commitment. That could work for me. I signed up for the one mile swim; so, it’s off to the pool for me. Gotta swim at least one lap…

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