A couple of years ago, I came across this great website that advertised challenging 75-minute outdoor workouts that could burn up to 700 calories. Never being a fan of working out in a gym, this sounded perfect! I decided to try it even though I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. After all, I couldn’t help but remember the time I got off the bike after a spin class and passed out cold. Or the time I had to run out of a kickboxing class and vomit into a bush. Once the class got going, I became very aware of exactly how out of shape I was. The leader walked faster than anyone I have ever seen. I struggled to stay in sight of the rest of the group. I’d love to say that I had fun chatting with the other newbies, but I was breathing much too hard to talk to anyone. I felt all right until the leader pointed to this very large hill and said we were going to climb it. The really athletic people were having trouble climbing up, so I began to panic a little. I tried not to let it show as I put one foot in front of the other, grabbing onto trees and trying not to fall to my death. My fear of heights started to kick in, and there was a point when I wanted to just climb back down and forget the whole thing. But the leader was understanding and kept offering positive encouragement. I did reach the top, and as everyone disappeared into the distance, I had to stop a minute and throw up. No one saw me, which kept my ego intact, and I was quite proud that I managed to avoid passing out. I trekked on, and finished the work out. And I went back the following week. And I still go. I chose not to focus on the nausea, vomit and lightheadedness but rather on the benefits that came with a more active lifestyle.

Exercise is a crucial part of self-care. It is the ultimate way to honor yourself and your body. It is a great stress reliever as well and can even serve as a form of meditation. Research has proven that exercise can be as effective as medication in treating depression. You deserve to look and feel great, and you need to make time for this. You have probably been told by more than one professional that exercise is part of the prescription when it comes to fighting PCOS, and you may be viewing it as something that you “have” to do, which may be keeping you from actually doing it. So how do you start working out and keep yourself motivated long enough to see results? You need to change the way you think about physical activity. And you need to change the way you talk to yourself before, during and after you work out.

First of all, stop making excuses. You can learn to enjoy being more active. You can find the time. Yes, you may be uncomfortable at times, but you can handle the pain. No money to join a gym? There are inexpensive classes you can take, videos that you can buy, and you can always walk, run, or bike outside. Even in the rain and snow. No more telling yourself you “should work out”. You will, and you will enjoy it. Pick something that appeals to you and put it on your calendar. Make sure that you have everything you need to make it a positive experience, such as a well-fitting pair of shoes and an iPod loaded with your favorite music or an audio book. If you are working out and you find that thoughts such as “I hate this”, “this hurts too much” or “this is so hard, I can’t do this” keep creeping in to your head, turn those thoughts around. Imagine yourself feeling fit and being able to complete a work out you once thought impossible. You are doing it with ease, and you feel so great that you forget that you have PCOS. Play an image in your head of your fit self smiling as you sweat. Your muscles are getting stronger and more defined, and your fat cells shrinking. All of your worries and stress are exiting your body with each breath and are floating off into the wind. Your body is becoming more balanced and all of your organs are working in sync with one another. You are healthier, more vibrant and you are radiating positive energy. Remember to tell yourself “I love how working out makes me feel” and “I can do this”.

I would encourage you to set a goal (or goals) for yourself so that you can measure your progress. It should be realistic, but you should have to do a fair amount of work in order to achieve it. What are you striving for – what does it actually look like? Where do you want to be in 6 weeks? Twelve weeks? Six months? A year? What do you need to do to become the person that you imagine you can be? For example, if you begin at the point where you can walk for twenty minutes, you can say that in 6 weeks you will be able to walk for 40 minutes at your own pace. In twelve weeks, you will be able to walk three miles in 40 minutes. In six months, you will be able to walk for an hour. And so on. If you are not working with a personal trainer, you will need to learn how to push yourself. Even if you are so out of shape that you can only walk for ten minutes, congratulate yourself for a job well done. And do twelve minutes next time. Or encourage yourself to walk a little bit faster. Change up your route to include some hills, or perhaps even take a short hike. While you are working out, actually tell yourself “this feels good, I think I’ll walk 5 extra minutes” or something similar. You can increase your stamina and even become an athlete, but only if you think you can!

As your own personal trainer, you will need to reevaluate your goals on a regular basis. There will be some bumps along the way, and it necessary to think about how you will handle these roadblocks should they occur. What will you do if you fall off the work out wagon? What if your schedule gets busy and you find yourself having less and less time for physical activity? If you exercise outdoors, what will you do when the weather does not cooperate? Planning ahead will help you to be able to face these challenges. If you are having difficulty motivating yourself and you find yourself drowning in a pit of self-sabotage, perhaps it is time to enlist some help. Maybe joining a class or a gym may help. Or you might benefit from having a trainer that can push you. Another option is to hire a wellness coach that can help you with your negative self-talk and keep you motivated and encouraged along the way. Whatever you do, do not give up. Exercise is part of your arsenal used to fight PCOS. Make the choice to fight every day. It really is a lot easier if you are not battling yourself every step of the way.

I have found that by utilizing positive self-talk, there really is no activity I do not enjoy doing. I look forward to the soreness I feel after a hard work out. Running used to be the ultimate torture for me and I hated every second of it. Inspired by the people on the Biggest Loser, I decided I needed to step things up and make my workouts harder. At first, I could only run a quarter of the way around the track without being totally out of breath and needing to stop to walk. I made my first goal to run all the way around just one time. The next time, it was two. After a couple of months, I found myself being able to run over three miles, and I no longer hated it. I do not allow negative thoughts to enter my mind during my runs; I enter a meditative state that blocks the pain and my positive energy keeps me pushing on. I’m looking forward to completing my first 5K this fall, and may even train for a 25K race next year. This goal seems so impossible, yet I can’t help thinking how a little nausea and vomit is not going to keep me from feeling the joy of crossing the finish line.

Author's Bio: 

Holly Amarandei is a life and wellness coach based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She specializes in helping women with PCOS lose weight, gain a positive body image, face infertility and other health challenges, and commit to living a healthier lifestyle.

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