My exercise philosophy has evolved and changed over the years and I think that is important for all of us to recognize where and how fitness plays a role depending on the season of our lives.
Lets face it. Health is important. Movement is important. Fitness is important. We all know this but many of us fail to prioritize it consistently.
I spent my childhood playing in the backyard, hiking in the mountains during the summer, and watching my parents play sports year round. It was carefree and natural.
That transitioned into sports of my own including volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball which led to volleyball in my college years. Physical activity never was really thought about as something “I had to do” I just did it.
My 4 years of college volleyball were more structured with practice, track workouts, weight lifting sessions, and games. It was intense. It was competitive. I was pushed to my limits.
In all these years I have two amazing take aways. I enjoy moving and being active. I am capable and strong more than I sometimes believe, mentally and physically.
While this belief has stayed the same, I have had several different shifts over the years in the way I think about working out and exercise.
I spent my post college years gym going, doing yoga, and going for long runs, working out almost every day of the week and my days revolved around eating healthy and all things fitness.
I became Pilates Instructor and enjoyed the benefits of a new method of exercise. I added that into my routine. I became a personal trainer and shared my love of weight lifting with others.
I spent a year doing a Masters swim program to improve my swimming technique.
I joined a CrossFit gym and loved doing fun things like rope climbs and getting back to Olympic lifts.
I pushed and pushed my body physically, loved it at times, hated it at times, and then it (my body) broke down on me in 2013 when I was going through a stressful time in my life.
I spent a year with daily back pain and had to scale back on my workouts and everything I loved doing. This is where some of my major mindset shifts started to happen around exercise, fitness, and working out.
I always had a “more is better” philosophy with exercise. After all, as an athlete, you workout all day everyday, you push your body to extremes, you train more, you do more. This is all good and well in competition years but doesn’t transition so well in everyday life.
The good news is you can still train hard, get results, and a take a less is more approach if you apply it correctly. So with that, here are some lessons I have learned and mindset shifts I have had that have allowed me to fit exercise seamlessly into my life without zapping my energy or taking up my time.
2013 self, I am so proud of you. Your mind was so much stronger than your body and that is what got you through.
You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to get a good workout.
All this go hard or go home, no excuses, no rest days, must leave a workout collapsed on the ground nonsense is actually a huge set back for many. The idea that a workout is only effective if you are gasping for air or can’t move after is a huge limiting factor in our overworked, exhausted, can’t find time lives.
Sure you can train hard but an effective workout for me now a days is more about getting it done than intensity or length. I find that too much of either doesn’t mesh well with the demands being busy and tired.
Motivation is not something you have, it is something you create.
If motivation was my sole drive in working out, I would not work out half as much. I can’t say I am always super motivated and inspired to workout. In fact on most days I am not.
Motivation is usually inspired by action and action is simply starting and completing the workout. I feel more motivated and inspired towards the end and after a workout than before or starting. It is not always about being motivated it is about just doing the work whether you want to or not.
I can do hard stuff.
Being strong is being capable. Emotionally and physically. I can get through hard stuff in my workout and in life. Physically. Can I finish this 17 mile hike? Can I get this serve over the net at game point in a championship match? Can I deadlift 220 off the ground. Can I do a pull up? Yes, yes I can.
Emotionally. Can I speak in front of this big group of people? Can I survive a divorce? Am I cut out to be a mom? Yes, yes I can, and yes I am.
Fitness is not linear and neither is life.
I use to think if I did a,b, and c, I would get x,y, and z. The pursuit of health and fitness (and life) is not always this straight, predictable line. It comes with obstacles, setbacks, and challenges. More so it is about how you deal with obstacles and if you let them break you, or if you let them make you.
Let good enough be good enough.
The unsatisfied mind feels like a gift and a curse to me at the same time. It keeps me striving for more, motivating me to do better and make progress and improve.
Yet it leaves me feeling that good enough is just not good enough and that I need to do more, that I need to be more. I have learned that it is ok to be content but not satisfied. That I give my best, let that be good enough, while striving to improve and not get caught up in the relentless, unachievable pursuit of perfection.
Skipping rest and recovery reverses my progress.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that if I just let myself recover, I will come back stronger. AND I will stay more consistent. I would rather take more rest days off regularly than going hard for weeks and going home for weeks. Rest and recovery is now something I prioritize as much as anything else.
Use comparison for inspiration not competition.
There will always be someone considered stronger, smarter, leaner, prettier and more successful. Instead of letting feelings of envy, shame or frustration get you down turn to what others are doing to be inspired and then go back to be the best at what you are doing.
Pretty much a “You girl girl,” of sorts and then back to focusing on yourself.
I am more than a body. I am more than my workouts.
Working out takes up a good focus of my life. It is a daily habit that I enjoy in one sense or another. But it is not all of me. The way my body looks is not all of me. And just like I learned when I was out of commission, in so much back pain, there is more to life than working out.
BUT you better believe I will make it a part of my life as much as I can, as long as I can, because the benefits go beyond aesthetics and how much weight you can lift or how far you can run. They are lessons and tools we can use forever.