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Training your brain for fitness means identifying your values, then prioritizing your time so you are living your life according to your priorities. If you’re reading this, we’re assuming health and fitness are on your list of family values, or you want them to be. Keeping those values top of mind — even posting them someplace visible — will help ward off Mother Guilt when you’re iffy about working up a sweat. Being motivated by your values is essential if you want to make fitness a habit in your life. It isn’t, however, the only ingredient. In order to turn fitness from a dreaded task to a habit, you need it to be:

Happy inducing,
You don’t have to hate exercise. Find what brings you joy and makes you smile. Set and accomplish goals to enhance that workout high.

Authentic activity,
Pursue fitness as a mission to find activity that is an extension of yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things. 

make you Better off than before
Sure you’ll feel better after a workout–physically and mentally–but also empowered, which spills over into other areas of your life.

Integrate easily into your life
Workouts should be neither too burdensome to pursue nor too time consuming. Choose activity that fits in with everything else you’re already doing.

and be a Time valued activity.
There will come a point when you value the time you spend exercising–not just the positive side effects like losing weight or a stronger core–but the very act of exercising, because you want to not because you have to.

Every fit mom has to keep training her brain right along with her body. Even when exercise is a priority, clingy toddlers, surprise pediatrician visits, and carpool can interfere with the best intentions. But when fitness is a habit she’ll at least have the mental strength to get moving when the next fitness opportunity strikes.

Kara Douglass Thom

Kara Douglass Thom is a triathlete, freelance writer and mother of four. She and Laurie Kocanda are the co-authors of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.

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