How often do you evaluate (and re-evaluate) your task list? Your calendar? Your inbox? Yet, when is the last time you’ve actually paused to consider how you could stop slogging through your workouts or wring more awesomesauce out of your current fitness routine?
At points in my life, I would drag myself out of bed at 4:45am in the dead of winter to shove myself through a marginally effective workout routine at Gold’s gym. No offense if that’s what you dig, but early, cold, and dark are pretty much the apex of awful for me. I never questioned it because, hey, Little Miss Type-A (me) got to the gym. Check - gold star at Gold’s Gym.
Since then, I’ve put my perfectionist ass into recovery and stopped finding ways to torture myself using exercise. It’s not a jail sentence for eating that extra cookie. It’s not a training schedule completely divorced from my physical body or real life. It’s not some external, unrealistic standard. Exercise is a tool that I use and adjust based on what my body needs…daily.
Let me break it down a little:
Running is for when I really want to burn off some stress, get my energy going, or get out of my own head. Heading out sans headphones helps me pair my stride with my breath. It’s meditative. Headphones are for when I’ve got some stress to burn off or want to train a little harder.
Walking, especially outside, is when I feel most creative, connected and relaxed. When I’m stuck or losing focus, I walk. When I need a recharge, I walk. When I’m stagnant or sleepy, I walk. Some people have their best ideas in the shower, but for me it’s when I’m walking. Would it surprise you to know that I dictated a draft of what you’re reading into my iPhone whilst walking?
Pilates. Yoga. Kitchen dance parties. Jumping on a mini-trampoline. Bicycling. Hiking. I’ll spare you the details, but all of them fill a particular physical or emotional need at a particular time of day in a particular season.
While that may sound like I’m doing a shit ton of mental gymnastics to figure out my workouts, you’re totally wrong. Here’s how the process typically goes down in my head:
[The night before] What’s my schedule tomorrow? Oooo, I have a 90-minute block free at 1pm, so I’ll have time for a longer walk.
[First thing in morning] What’s going on in my body? Sleep was good, but feeling a little worked from the Pilates workout yesterday.
[Second thing in the morning] What’s the weather today? Rainy and dark. I'll do 30-minutes of yoga. I'll see if Craig wants to walk with me after work, if the weather clears.
[Close to the workout time.] Workout time! What’s going on in my body now? Been in my chair too long and feeling a little too revved-up after an energizing client session. Yoga for flexibility it is.
My only expectation is that I move my body for at least 30 minutes every day. I give myself options to choose from, but don’t get all tangled in them. Worried about motivation? Don’t be. Because when you stop hating it, you start doing it.
What works for you? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.