My energy levels have changed over the last few years so running is now something that feels draining rather than energetic. It has taken me a while to accept that I need to exercise differently and even longer to implement.
Swimming is a good exercise for cardio, so it’s good for heart and lungs. However it’s not great for bone density which is an important factor approaching and after menopause as there is no weight bearing. So it shouldn’t be the only form of exercise you do ideally.
I was having a chat with my Mum about how I was trying to get into swimming but was finding it a faff to do. 20 years ago I used to get up before 6am to go for a swim before work. I have been thinking about why something I used to find easy is now difficult to fit in and why am I resistant to something that I know enjoy when I get there and is good for me.
I have to make it easy and I do and that means creating a ‘swim bag’. I have had a gym bag for years. Everything I need and a few extras for emergencies are in there for a trip to the gym. I needed to create something similar so I wouldn’t get there & realise I had forgotten my towel.
Make the time
Well before you can make the time, you need to know how much time it takes. So how long does it take door to door for a 30 mins swimming session take? I use the Time Ladder which is one of my coaching tools. For this example, I want to get to the pool for 15:00. I start at 15:00 and work forwards, then start at 15:00 and move backwards.
|14:30 – 14:45||Travel to gym||15 mins|
|14:45 – 15:00||Change & get ready for swim||15 mins|
|15:00 – 15:30||Swim||30mins|
|15:30 – 16:00||Shower and change||30 mins|
|16:00 -16:15||Travel from gym||15 mins|
So a 30 minute swim session will take me just under 2 hours door to door.
Make an appointment
The easy way to create a habit for me is to have it as an appointment in my diary for the two hours on the same day each week if possible. This means I have made a decision that I will go for a swim each week at the same time and I don’t have to have a debate with myself each week as to should I, shouldn’t I.
Cancelling the appointment
Life often gets in the way of our good intentions. What are valid reasons for cancelling the swim session?
This might sound like an odd way of thinking about things. However if it’s new habit that your not massively enjoying it’s really easy to find lots of reasons not to do it. So working out what’s a valid reason for you can save lot’s of missed appointments down the line.
If you want to repeatedly cancel, that alerts us to the fact that this isn’t a good time and working out another time to go which would suit better.
Create happy hormones
Anything that feels like a chore will be – whether its housework, gym or work. Swimming is fabulous when I get there but because I’m not used to going regularly it can feel a bit of an effort to get myself organised to get there and finding a good time when it’s not too busy. As an extra treat building in a little time to use the spa facilities and it starts to feel like an indulgence and not a chore
Habits can take a long time to settle in. If you are trying to create a habit that you don’t enjoy it takes longer. So it’s finding a way of thinking and speaking positively about it.
Samantha Valand is the founder of Wise Women Wellbeing Academy.
A comprehensive hub of resources on hormone balancing, healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years and beyond.