Social media is a wonderful tool for connecting like-minded people to one another, but I think that too much connection can make us put some pressure on ourselves. There are so many articles, pictures, and pins on Pinterest about eating healthy and working out that I think sometimes we think if we are not 100% “on” all the time, we are doing something wrong. Because isn’t everyone else doing all that healthy stuff? The most important thing to remember is that working out is bettering YOUR health and YOUR body. A workout is not something to just check off our list or tell others that we accomplished, it is something that changes us mentally and physically for the better! We need to strive for balance, not perfection. Still, whether you are having a busy day or a “regular” day, here are five tips that will help you balance your life vs. your workout.
Decide what you are going to do the next day the night before.
I cannot stress this enough! You must decide what you are going to do and when you are going to do it the night before, or else it is all too easy to let the day get away from you. If I know that I have commitments right after work, like a meeting or my grad class, then I label that a long day and I KNOW I will not be waking up early. I will want to sleep as long as possible so that I have energy. Therefore, I will be working out when I finally get home…and that means I must pick a workout that I enjoy doing that is short. Am I going to feel like going to an hour-long Spin class after a 14 hour day? Definitely not. So be realistic with yourself. Maybe it is easier for you to wake up early and do something before your day begins, but if you are like me and save your workout for the evening, have a plan to do a short workout so that you don’t give yourself an excuse to skip it. I give myself many options: I do 30 minute workouts on Beachbody OnDemand, I know which classes at my gym happen in the 7 o’clock hour and are only 30 minutes, I give myself the option to run…but I always choose one of those options the night before. So, when you are laying down at night and going over all of the things that you need to accomplish the next day, decide what you are going to do when you finally get home and have time to workout. Short and sweet is key!
Workout as soon as you get home.
If you are a morning person, you can skip this one. Ha! If you are an afternoon or evening exerciser, I can’t recommend anything more than changing into workout clothes as soon as you get home and starting your workout right away! Maybe you drive straight to the gym instead. Whatever it is, do it right away. If you sit down on your couch, there will be no getting up! 😉
Schedule your workout!
In conjunction with the point above, you must decide the what and when of your workout, but what better way to make sure you get yourself moving than by actually scheduling it? Some gyms and fitness studios require participants to sign up ahead of time so that you don’t arrive at the gym and find your favorite class full. Likewise, these “sign ups” usually come with a late fee. If you sign up for a class and don’t show up, you are charged a small fee. Who wants to pay extra for not showing up!? That is definitely encouragement for me to show up, unless I have a legitimate reason not to go, like being sick. If your gym doesn’t require you to sign up or you don’t belong to a gym, schedule your workout by making plans with a friend. When I have plans with a friend and I am not looking forward to going just because I am being lazy, there is nothing like seeing a text message that says “Can’t wait to see you later!” or “We should run on ____ trail tonight!” Someone else is expecting me to show up and work hard with them, so I will! And you will, too. 🙂
Choose to do something that you really enjoy.
This stems from what I was saying above about doing what you think you are “supposed” to be doing. Your workout is changing YOU for the better, so you need to choose to do something that makes you happy. Obviously we all want to see results from our hard work, but you will be much less likely to see results and/or stay consistent if you don’t enjoy or look forward to what you are doing. I am a runner, and right now I really don’t feel like running. In fact, I signed up for Classpass for the next month so I can try a whole bunch of different studios and classes (it seems to be offered in big cities only so far!). Think about the workout you have scheduled for later today: are you excited about it? Do you enjoy that activity? Your answer should be “yes” to both of those questions. I know that yoga is so good for my mind and body, and I enjoy doing yoga, but I would never make myself do it by myself working out at home. I don’t enjoy that. I have tried many different online videos, but I am the happiest little yogi when I am at the studio. So figure out what you like and do that thing.
Give yourself a break.
I mean this in the most literal sense. If you are working out, you obviously need to incorporate rest days too, but that is not what I mean. I mean actually let yourself skip a workout AND not feel bad about it if you don’t want to do it or you really just do not have time. It is not our life’s work to spend every day in the gym. Some people love working out so much that they do make it to the gym every day, and others of us are like, why do I have to do this? I saw this article on Huffington Post recently and it really spoke to me:
“Losing weight is not your life’s work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories. What would happen if, instead of worrying about what you had for breakfast, you focused instead on becoming exquisitely comfortable with who you are as a person? Instead of scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, looking for every bump and bulge, you turned your gaze inward?”
Read the full article here.
How true is that? I am a religious person, so I am always working to be the best version of myself. The person that God made me to be. But even if you are not religious, isn’t your character so much more important than anything else? We are not meant to spend our lives fretting over being the most fit person, although social media can make that all too easy. We are meant for so much more. And that might start with letting ourselves be “okay” with missing a day at the gym or having a weekend full of indulgent food. Balance, not perfection, remember?