So you’re feeling less than in love with the treadmill right now, and you’ve lost your motivation somewhere down the side of the sofa. You’re feeling totally disconnected from your physicality, and you miss moving your body in a way that feels good. But you’re reading this post, so WELL DONE! You’ve taken the first step. You may be mega busy or under a lot of stress, which can often result in self care going out the window (more on how to fix that in another blog post coming soon). Small actions like unrolling your yoga mat or hitting the gym can seem like a Really Big Deal, even though you know that they will make you feel better. It may seem like you’re on a slippery slope to sloth-dom, but it’s so much easier to get your workout mojo back than you think.
Lesson One: Remember WHY you started in the first place
Why did you start working out in the first place? How did it make you feel? Instead of focusing on the negatives (“Why can’t I stick to anything?” / “I’m so lazy” etc) remind yourself of your WHY – why you started moving in the first place.
This could be to get fitter or stronger or more flexible – but it could also be for a different reason such as to de-stress, improve your relationship with your body, or to increase your self esteem. Maybe you want to run a marathon or get a new PB, or, hell, get toned abs before your holiday! We often start off with more aesthetic goals but quickly find that the benefits of exercise go a lot deeper than that.
Whatever your intentions behind exercising were, spend a few moments now exploring them. If these reasons no longer serve you, then consider what is motivating you now – you are reading this article for a reason after all ;)
Lesson Two: Consider why you STOPPED working out
Equally important is the why you stopped exercising. Sometimes, when we start to see working out as that Really Big Deal, it becomes more of an inconvenience rather than an enhancement to your life. This can become a major enthusiasm-buster at this point – nobody wants to do something they don’t want to do! Or maybe something happened in your life that threw you off-course, such as getting sick or being really busy at work. It could also be a positive reason that caused you to stop, like spending lots of time in a new relationship or going travelling.
Again, explore the reasons why you stopped working out or lost your enthusiasm. Do this without judgement, and instead with lots of self-compassion. It’s ok! Life is full of ebbs and flows, and sometimes it will be easier to follow a routine than others. The most important thing you can do is to understand when and why it’s easy or difficult, so that you can better predict and allow for these times.
Lesson Three: Find ways of moving that you LOVE
What kind of exercise do you enjoy the most? And what do you dislike? If running ain’t your thang (and god knows it’s not mine!) then don’t pressure yourself to go out for a jog. Find something that makes you feel good about yourself and leaves you on a high. Don’t work out with the sole intention of losing weight or getting that thigh gap (PLEASE DON’T) – it’s so much more sustainable to find something you really enjoy.
The options are endless but here’s some of my favourites:
Yoga (obvs!), power walking, weight lifting, horse riding, pole dancing, dancing in general..
Maybe you would prefer:
Swimming, running, cycling, rollerblading, hiking, Zumba, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), gymnastics, circus training, pilates, fitness classes like Body Pump etc, aerobics, martial arts, boxing/boxercise, surfing, rock climbing, acroyoga, snowboarding, Barre, aerial/hoop, classical dancing, triathlons, team sports like basketball/netball/football, beach volleyball, skateboarding, parkour…
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the perfect way to exercise for everybody, and I’m a big believer in trying different things out and seeing what sticks! You can even make it your project to try a couple things out for a month, then evaluate what you enjoyed the most, and what parts you didn’t love. You could switch over to some new activities the following month, and repeat until you find ways of moving that you adore.
Lesson Four: COMMIT to working out – but not at the expense of the rest of your life!
So you swam borderline-obsessively every night for a week, then realise you can’t stomach any more chlorine in your life and never put your swimsuit on again. We’ve all been there – and the best way to prevent total workout burnout is to choose the middle path and keep everything in moderation. It’s totally cool to get excited about your new passion for exercise, but don’t completely ditch your social life and your other hobbies for the sake of working out. It’s a sure fire way to yo-yo the other way once the honeymoon period is over. Buy that new cookbook and those SB leggings (I’m giving you permission to here!), but don’t put your life on hold for the sake of working out and ‘eating clean’ etc.
Choosing this middle path will also keep things in perspective if real life gets in the way and you don’t get to exercise as much as you hoped one week. It’s totally ok to skip a workout – the world won’t come to an end, I promise you ;)
Lesson Five: Keep it POSITIVE
We are anatomically designed to move in a huge variety of different ways. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and boosts our energy, immune system and mood. So if you’re punishing yourself by doing exercise you don’t enjoy, please stop right now! Take the stress out of it and instead move in a way that makes you feel great. Even if it is dancing around in your underwear with the curtains closed! Devote some time to finding physical activity that you really enjoy, and don’t settle for less.
Being physically fit does wonders for your self-confidence and self-worth. It’s such an ego boost to be able to do things that you weren’t able to do the previous month – like taking all of the groceries into your house in one trip! Like anything in life, approach exercise with a light heart rather than with stress and pressure. It’s ok to play around with different workouts, and it’s especially great to cross-train, so don’t feel like you have to dedicate yourself to one thing! Yoga can be especially good for improving strength, flexibility and cardiovascular function – and is so good for reducing stress. I offer private yoga classes in Edinburgh, so do reach out if you want to start yoga.
Above all else, have fun!
What forms of exercise do you love the most? Have I missed anything off my list? Let me know in the comments below!