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Judy Ramos is a busy wife to Israel and mother of Imanuel, Micah, and Titus. She currently teaches at the Greater Lansing Adventist School, serves the GYC organization, and is a “revolutionary” triathlete with Team Revolution.
7 Tips for Maintaining an Exercise Routine (pdf)

1. Have the Right Motivation
Right motivators are timeless. Wrong motivators are temporary. Some right motivators include obedience to God to take care of our bodies, being healthy and having a clear mind, promoting good mental health, de-stressing, and being a good example to our children.

Wrong motivators include trying to lose weight, fit a certain outfit, make wrinkles or acne go away, look more attractive. As time goes on, we may or may not reach our ideal weight and look, but our desire and motivation to be fit and healthy should still be there. We should always care about taking care of bodies because our mental, spiritual, emotional well-being depends on this.

2. Choose an Activity that You Really Enjoy
It is your choice and you have so many options. Don’t try to run as your main form of exercise if you hate running. If you enjoy what you do, the likelihood of your sticking with it will be much greater. There are tons of options: exercising outdoors or in a gym, with a buddy or alone, with a club or from the comfort of your living room. As time goes on, what works for you may also change depending on your spouse’s (or kid’s schedule), your stronger body, and the changing seasons. Bottom line: Find something you like and when you don’t like it anymore, change it  and find something new.

3. Set Goals
Make them clear and attainable. Now this is different from what motivates you. Our motivation is what helps us achieve our goals. Goals are meant to be temporary benchmarks and should periodically change. For example, if your goal is to lose 3 inches off your waist, once you reach that, you celebrate and choose another one. Sit down and discuss it with your spouse or a friend. Sometimes it helps to set goals together. Goals can range from finishing/competing in a race, to lowering your BMI or blood pressure, or improving overall mood/attitude, strength, stamina and endurance. I would suggest incorporating weekly/monthly “weigh-ins” to see how close you are coming to your goal. Give yourself a realistic time to attain each goal and make sure you celebrate each goal met.

4. Make a Plan
It’s all about scheduling. Especially for pastoral families, it is imperative that you work together with your spouse sometimes irregular and unpredictable schedule to find a good time for you. If it takes waking up extra early or staying up late, do what it takes to give you uninterrupted time when you don’t have to worry about watching the kids or the next thing on your to-do list.

Have a family meeting. Decide what time of day and which days per week are ideal. Protect that time and make sure if you have kids, that your spouse or someone else can watch them during that time. Pull out everyone’s calendar and choose a start date and end date. It is best to start when there is a good stretch of time when the schedule is predictable. For example, starting a workout schedule right before Camp Pitch wouldn’t be the best idea. Decide how long you think the exercise routine should work for. Whether you plan for month or for the year, make sure you take the time to tweak how things are going from week to week to ensure that things work. If you find it helpful, give yourself breaks and cheat days to avoid burn out. Knowing you have a family vacation coming up may help keep you on your exercise routine for the weeks leading up to it.

5. Make Yourself Accountable to Someone
Tell someone besides Jesus. Unless fitness is already a part of your lifestyle, we all need extra help to keep us going from time to time. This is when it helps to tell someone. Tell Jesus, of course, because we need His strength to keep us faithful, but this is one case where it’s a good thing to tell others about your business. Tell your spouse, your friends, your parents. Tell Facebook. Whatever works for you. If you are motivated by money, put down money for a race, a gym membership, or an exercise class.

6. Reward Yourself
Find ways to make it worth your time. Endorphins are the natural reward for a good workout, but sometimes other rewards help too. Take time to make a workout soundtrack with your favorite inspirational songs. Treat yourself to new shoes or workout clothes. Soak in a long hot bath after long workouts. Plan delicious, healthy meals after your workouts. Reward yourself positively for doing good to your body and you will keep wanting to do it.

7. Make Good Lifestyle Decisions
Little decisions each day go a long way. As you make little decisions each day to be healthy, you will find that it will motivate you to make other healthy choices. Drink more water. Stretch in the morning and at night. Take the stairs. Settle to park farther from the entrance of the store. Play outside with your kids. Choose the vegan option. Skip dessert or juice at potluck. So let’s ditch the excuses and make it a priority to take better care of ourselves. Not only will our bodies thank us for it, it will help us be better, happier spouses, happier parents, more effective thinkers, stronger ministers, and a clearer example of God’s ideal for human kind. That is my heart’s desire. How about you?
Adapted from the Shepherdess Voices, March/April, 2015 newsletter of the Michigan Conference. Used with permission.