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Kris's Story: Getting Active With No Excuses - Kris's story

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When Kris retired several years ago, she decided that she was out of excuses. It was time to make time to get fit and stay fit.

"I knew I needed to do something. I felt like all my muscles were starting to atrophy. Now I feel like I'm so much more toned. I'm not buff, but I'm toned. I can definitely feel the difference."

She chose working out at her local YMCA gym as a way to increase her activity level. At first she went for 45 minutes at a time and did nothing but aerobics. Now she spends 2½ hours every weekday morning on a variety of activities, including aerobics and fitness machines. Her workout has become a routine part of her day.

Building that habit wasn't easy. Kris had tried before to visit the gym every day. But she was working then, and 5 a.m. seemed the only time she could fit it into her schedule. It didn't work.

"That lasted about a year and a half," says Kris. "And then I just kept making up excuses. I was only going a couple days a week, and it was so hard to get up that early."

Years went by and retirement loomed: "I knew that once I quit working, all the excuses were gone."

Getting past her fear

Going to a gym and exercising in front of other people wasn't easy for Kris in the beginning. "I was intimidated by the people," she says. But she kept at it until she felt comfortable.

"Once I got a little bit less intimidated with just being there, I would go try another machine. That took me a long time. I bet I was there 6 or 7 months before I moved on to another machine. I was really kind of intimidated, because the other women and men looked so buff."

She stayed to herself at first. But the more she went, the more familiar faces she saw. Other "regulars" began to strike up conversations with her. Today, she enjoys the social side of her workouts as much as the actual exercise.

"I just have fun meeting people. I still meet people all the time."

Setting goals

Setting goals was—and still is—an important part of Kris's physical activity plan.

She remembers getting on the stationary bike in the beginning and feeling like her legs were going to fall off after just a few minutes. "So I would just say, 'All right, I'll do 20 minutes this week. And if I feel a little bit stronger next week, I'll do 25.'

"I would just try and increase it 5 minutes or so [at a time]. I still do that. Last week I did 98 pounds on this one exercise machine and today I thought, 'I'm going to do 100.' I did, too! From 98 to 100 is only 2 pounds, but still you feel like, well, that's an improvement. It may not be much more, but if you look back to 6 months ago—Whoa! It's quite good! I started out at 70 pounds and now I'm at 100!

"So every time you make that goal, you do a little bit better or you stretch a little bit farther. It makes you feel pretty good about yourself."

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