The dragging-winter workout slump is real!
Whether training for road races, weightlifting, working with a personal trainer or following a mobile fitness program, I’ve learned over the years that each routine demands consistency and discipline. Having tried all of these while working full-time, I can attest to how difficult it is to push your body in the gym when you’ve just pushed yourself mentally for 8 to 10 hours at the office.
The same is true for all of us, whatever your life situation. For those raising a family, working a trade, studying, doing shift work, caregiving…. the biggest lesson I’ve learned about living a healthy life in adulthood is that the mental game is challenging. There’s always an excuse and a competing priority.
While I’m still figuring out what works for me, I thought it would be fun to share three blocks I face while trying to self-motivate, and what I’ve been doing lately to tackle them head-on!
1. I’m cold and I don’t want to move
I may be completely alone in this one – but I have a really silly roadblock when it’s time to work out: I don’t want to change my clothes. Most days I’d much rather slip under my heated blanket than trade a cable-knit sweater or wool tights for my thin yoga pants.
Here’s what I do:
- Have a hot 60-second shower before a workout. A shower is always inviting, and I find that it loosens my tight muscles and wakes me up. I’m warm enough to hop into workout clothes and feel ready to move.
- Change clothes in a different location. Whether the gym change room, at work, or just in the warmest room of our home!
- Layer. Sometimes I’ll wear my workout tank and sports bra underneath my work clothes so that I just need to peel off a layer pre-workout.
2. I can’t produce the reps asked of me
It can feel incredibly daunting to stare down a circuit workout (hi, BBG) or your expectant trainer, knowing that you’re being asked to produce 8, 12, 15 reps… when the first one feels just terrible. I often feel like I can’t even begin.
Here’s what I do:
- Do a form check. Any trainer will back me up when I say that proper form is far more important than getting any number of reps. I can feel good about doing half the reps if I know that I’m nailing my form (whether keeping a straight back, retracted shoulders, or a low, steady split squat). Plus, if a movement feels awful, chances are I’m doing it incorrectly.
- Ask for a modification. I used to never do this because I figured I know nothing about fitness, and a trainer will know what’s best for me. It’s true that a trainer can help you understand and work within your limitations, but first you need to communicate what you’re experiencing. Programs like BBG always offer a modified version of the exercises – they’re there for a reason!
- The “two more” rule. Since I’ve been working out solo lately, I feel like it’s easier to quit. Now, when I feel like I’ve produced all that I can, I tell myself to do one more. And then one more. I find that I can almost always do two more reps than I think I can on my own.
3. There’s no time to do anything!
Weekday evenings are a time warp. It feels like I’m always sacrificing one thing in the name of another. The truth is that you can’t do it all – at least not every day. I’ve realized that I can’t stay late at work to wrap up a project, make an Instagram-worthy dinner, complete a high-intensity workout, shower, meditate, stretch, blog, journal, read all the news, do my taxes, prep lunches for the next day, and catch up on The Walking Dead.
Here’s what I do:
- Realize that self care means making time – and it isn’t always fun. As great as all of the “soaking in the bathtub” pictures are on Instagram, self-care also means carving out time for things you need to do to stay healthy. For me, that means many unglamorous, important things, like going to the dentist every three months, cancelling plans to go to bed early, and figuring out when to work out. Make your priorities and learn to say no.
- Extend kindness to myself. Sometimes I need to listen to my body. I’m a person who needs a lot of sleep and recovery time, and there are days when pushing it isn’t a possibility. I allow myself at least two rest days a week, and I try to remain flexible in my workout schedule – so if needed, I can swap muscle groups, shorten exercises, or switch days as needed. Getting it done differently than planned is better than not getting it done at all.
- Practice the Rule of Three. Lately I try to choose three reasonable goals as my focus each weeknight evening. For example last night my goals were: working out, making a new home-cooked meal and getting to bed early. Tonight’s goals are stretching, blogging, and being on lunch prep duty while my boyfriend goes to the gym later. The golden trio ensures that I don’t overdo it, but that each night still feels productive for my overall health.
What do you do to overcome your personal exercise hurdles and excuses?