I would never change my athletic experience for the world. Being an athlete taught me I could do hard things. It built my confidence. It taught me how to persevere and push myself when I thought I was at my limits. It gave me memories outside the gym like pushing each on shopping carts through Target on road trips, halloween college parties, and team bonding. It taught me about support and friendship.
With all the amazing experiences that come with being a former athlete, I think it unintentionally sets up some of us for struggle in adulthood in regards to health and fitness. We learn how to train, but only for competition. We are good at practicing but best with a coach and others by our side. We know how to push ourselves but think that is the only way.
When I transitioned my fitness routine into adulthood, a workout was not deemed worthy, in my opinion, unless I was gasping for air. I turned to running because that was the only thing that would work my lungs as hard as practice and games. Running was not fun for me though and it actually made my cravings and hunger levels shoot through the roof. I wasn’t motivated, my workouts were half assed and I was not getting the results I was seeking.
When I finally found CrossFit I was thrilled. It was fun and I could lift heavy weights, do my olympic lifts and climb ropes and it kind of felt like play, plus I could hardly breathe during my workouts so it felt like the perfect fit. Except some of the workouts were only 7 minutes. Or sometimes the workouts were so intense I could not recover.
I would be on for two weeks off for one and repeat it over and over again. I had a couple mental blocks that had to do with time spent and intensity of a workout.
Here is what I now know.
You don’t have to go hard or go home or spend hours in the gym.
I know that is what your coach use to tell you. I know that is how you use to train. I get it. I did it to. It took me years but ultimately what I had to learn was self trust. That running myself into the ground was not the only way to get results and the only way I could prove it to myself was to stop doing the very workouts that were keeping me struggling.
That were keeping me not recovering, not motivated, and not feeling my best. More is not better and I know that inner athlete may be screaming against you but you are no longer training to have to sustain your endurance for game time. Your game time is in a sense, life. While I totally get wanting to push yourself, you can still find that challenge in your workouts and it does not have to come in full exhaustion mode.
Plus you don’t have two hours a day to train any more anyways. That was your job back then and if you keep trying to mimic a workout that you did when you had more time, energy and focus you will feel defeated. That was then. This is now.
Find workouts that build a strong foundation, with some type of resistance training, and choose exercise and movement that you enjoy and make you feel good.
Find a coach, workout buddy, or someway to keep you accountable.
You may feel a little lonely, lost and without a plan. I get it. I did too. It is tough to go from having support and motivation from teammates to having to not only decide what you are going to do in your workout, but actually do it, with a little intensity to top it off. I didn’t know what it was like to workout alone. I had “workout partners” my whole life. Playing sport was never really exercise anyways. It was practice. It was training. It was environment in which I was guided and supported by someone else.
In lifelong fitness you don’t always have that so find something or someone to be accountable too. Find a personal trainer, a supportive community, an online trainer, a friend or workout partner and then create a plan.
Actually write down what you will do in advance. I take this for granted because this is what I do for a living on a daily basis. I write workout programs for people so they can show up and not have to think about it. If you are looking for a way to conserve your will power and increase the likelihood of actually doing a workout, write it down, go the gym, and follow it. You will expend less mental energy thinking about it and be able to save that energy to put it into action.
Check your nutrition.
Every summer I would go home overdo the food intake a little bit but not be so worried because I knew after “hell week” I would be right back in my usual shape. I was also 20. While I have always been conscience of my food choices, I was hungry! I needed fuel. Whether that was pizza, sandwiches, endless Gatorade, power bars or bananas, fuel was my friend. I was more concerned with energy and performance than the extra carbs I might be consuming.
Things are different now. Life feels stressful, our days are full, and often energy is low. We are moving less and exercising less ( can’t really compare to 3 hour practices) so we don’t need as much to support our expenditures. We simply cannot continue to eat the same way and expect that our body will not gain weight/fat. It is true, when you workout more, you need to eat more. When you workout less, you need to eat less.
Cut yourself some slack for not measuring up to your younger years but keep the following in mind.
Eat to match your actual activity levels, not what you wish they were.
Workout for what your schedule allows, not what you think it should be.
Move in a way that feels good, not in a way that brings you down.
Treat yourself like the athlete you currently are, not the athlete you use to be.
It is not the same but you will always have that inner athlete within you.
I have just a couple spots left for 1-1 online coaching so if you are looking to fall in love with exercise and yourself again and get strong from the inside out, be sure to fill out this form and we can about what the best path for you is.