After a long break I have finally returned to the gym since I know exercise is vital to my self care routines. I was feeling cranky and tired and getting a little depressed and anxious. These are all signs I am not taking care of myself. I was amazed how in my very first gym session (a “Pump” weights class) I not only felt stronger and more positive, I also noticed all the lessons I had been learning previously while at the gym – and missing lately.
1. Adjust your loads according to where you are at right now – adjust for injuries, absences, level of skill.
I was returning after a 4 month absence and could not just jump back in to where I was at previously. I had built up my fitness levels back then and was lifting a fair amount of weight. I had to take into consideration where I was at physically right now and lower my expectations and lift a much lighter weight load.
This is exactly like my bad day plan – At various stages we have more stress or commitments, less energy or motivation. Often when these times happen the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is adjust our load – don’t try to lift the same weight you do when you are at your peak, allow yourself to lighten the load, push through and build up your strength again.
2. Find a trainer and / or exercise class that is a good fit for you.
I know so many people who say they hate the gym. Possibly what they hate is the class they tried or the trainer they worked with. There is no one size fits all here. I have attended spin classes with 5 different trainers and only enjoyed two of the classes. I seek out those teachers and attend their classes. I try a variety of classes and know that if I find the right exercise or trainer then i am more likely to enjoy the class, return regularly and stay motivated.
In life when we connect with things that lift us up and connect with our true passions we are energized, motivated and productive. When you continue to try to be something you are not, you are drained and cranky and dread work. When people follow a path that is dictated by external influences (parents, society, and “shoulds”) you try to operate without that good “fit”. You know it is not a good fit by that discomfort you feel – whether it is a dread going to work or an itch to get back to work when you struggle to stay at home with your kids. Be true to what is a good fit for you.
3. When you start to struggle get in touch with what is left to do.
The great trainers I have taken classes with always sense when students are reaching the give up point. They think they cannot do one more bicep curl or sit up. The trainer then lets us know that we are 3/4 of the way through the routine, we have 5 more to do, etc. When you connect with the idea that the end is in sight you dig a little deeper and push through those last few reps.
When you find you cannot motivate yourself to stick with a goal you have, try to break it down and then focus on pushing through just one more “x”.
If you are trying to get a handle on healthy eating and find yourself focusing on the deprivation angle thinking of “dieting”, try switching your focus to eating healthy for “just one more meal”. Don’t think ahead to the lifetime of changed eating habits, just commit to pushing through to eat a healthy lunch.
If you have something long to write, an entire messy house to declutter, etc break them down into the equivalent of sets (a chapter, a room or closet) and push yourself through to tackle just one more set.
4. Showing up is more than half the battle.
Most people who exercise know that just lacing up their sneakers or getting to the gym is the hardest part. Once they are on the road or in their class they do the whole workout. I have had days where I did not want to exercise, got to the gym and even in a class or on the treadmill I still did not want to be there. I could have given up and ended things there, but usually I can at least talk myself into adjusting the workout. If I am running and want to quit, I tell myself just to walk for the rest of the workout. If I am doing a spin class I can lower the resistance and regroup. So many people never get off the couch so give yourself credit for showing up!
In life be proud of yourself for any first steps you take. You do not always have to be the best or finish first. You can get great benefits from whatever steps you take to move forward towards your goals. Whether it is getting one closet cleared out, signing up for one class, trying out a new healthy cookbook, you are taking steps and it is the same as getting off the couch!
5. Remember why you are there.
Very early in my weights class the other day the trainer asked us what we were there for. She reminded us we were there for stronger bones and healthier bodies.
So often we operate in a state of autopilot caught up in the day to day tasks on our to-do lists. We know what needs to be done and we are just focused on checking off items. Stop and ask yourself what you are doing it for and reconnect with your bigger goals. Perhaps you have been doing something for so long it is automatic, but maybe it no longer meets your current goals.
Some tasks we don’t enjoy lead us to procrastinate endlessly. The tasks remain on the list and taunt us. If we stop and reconnect the task to the greater goal it can motivate us to get it done. That phone call to the health insurance company you are avoiding? Remember you are calling to negotiate a different rate which will save your family $200 which brings you closer to your goal of a family vacation this year. See how fast you pick up the phone now that you realise the connection between the phone call and your vacation!
This week think of something you can do to get off the couch to reach your goals.
Is there anything on your list that you could do with reconnecting to your bigger goals? Do you have any life lessons you learned in an unexpected place?
Find your simple,