Self-Care Challenge (Day 6): Strength Training

colorful, stacked hand weights

On day 6 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored strength training — an area that I have neglected for far too long.

I am not what you might call a perfect specimen of fitness. To be honest, maintaining a consistent exercise plan has probably been the most challenging aspect of my personal health. My motivation ebbs and flows and I get bored with routines easily. Having worked as a nutrition therapist and health coach for many years, I know I’m not alone.

When it comes to physical activity, each of us must find that special something that moves us to action.

Some people are competitive, so the idea of races or team sports excite them. Others enjoy being part of a group and thrive in the company of friends who attend classes or boot camps alongside them. And still there are some who prefer to exercise alone, or in a one-on-one setting with a personal trainer.

Knowing that strength training is an important part of a comprehensive fitness plan, I decided it was time to makes some adjustments to my routine. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that a strength training program “should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week, with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions for healthy adults or 10 to 15 repetitions for older and frail individuals. Eight to 10 exercises should be performed that target the major muscle groups.”

Two days a week? Totally doable.

Several months ago, I joined a local gym, and it’s the first time I’ve been able to stay motivated to exercise for any appreciable length of time. I love that they offer a wide variety of classes, but perhaps more importantly, the staff and members there are friendly, supportive and nonjudgmental (not something you find at every gym).

A past shoulder injury has made me keenly aware of my body’s mechanics and limitations, so I modify all the time. Never once have I been made to feel guilty about that. Instead, the positive energy of the group pushes me to work harder than I would ever push myself.

What motivates me to leave my house in the morning and face rush hour traffic to get there? Sure, I want to experience the benefits of improved health, but more than anything it’s the smiling faces of my classmates and the instructor’s encouraging, yet commanding voice shouting, “Down-2, hold-3, up-4!”

Strength training is just one of the many self-care tools supporting the Systemic dimension of our health–our habits related to eating, moving and resting. Our health is our greatest resource for carrying out our unique purpose and making significant contributions to the world.

Make your two days count!

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