LEARNING TO LIVE FLEXIBLY
Looking back on the start of my fitness journey, there’s one thing I wish I had known and paid more attention to: LISTEN. TO. YOUR. BODY.
At first thought, it seems like a pretty straight forward message. If you aren’t feeling up to working out, don’t. If you feel up to it, but can only give 50%, that’s better than nothing. Still, the part no one really talks about is how to know the difference? And, equally important, how to cope with taking that extra day, days, or even an entire week away from the gym. How to not stress about the missed time, worry about losing progress/getting out of your normal routine, and basically just how to NOT feel like crap about yourself when you aren’t able to get in the workout that you had planned. It’s tough.
Even, being close to 10 year into my fitness journey, it is still incredibly difficult to cope with. From the very start, I’ve always been a more is better when it comes to working out. Whether that means running longer, adding in extra walks, or cutting down on the number of rest days. The more time you spend moving and exercising, the more progress you’re going to make. Except, for when you cross that line between enough and too much….and end up sidelined due to injury. So, I’ve (sort of) learned to take a more cautious approach when it comes to my exercise routine.
In my perfect world, I would run 5 times a week for a total of 30 miles. I would also weight lift five times a week, and make sure to spread out my two remaining rest days for optimal muscle recovery. I would stretch and icing my leg religiously…and never get injured OR need extra time off from running and the gym. Sadly, I’m not living in that perfect world. And, chances are, neither are you. There will be weeks when everything goes according to plan. But, more often than not, things will need to be adjusted. Sore muscles, lack of sleep, or being sick will interrupt your perfectly designed program.
So, what do you do? And, how do you learn to keep your calm and avoid getting down on yourself?
Surprise, surprise… there is no right answer or way to handle things when your workout schedule or routine gets interrupted unexpectedly. In fact, after all these years, I still find myself searching for that answer quite frequently. For me, it all comes down to being flexible and logical. Just because you’re not working out, doesn’t mean you’re not making progress or have to throw your eating plan/normal habits out the window. If you feel up to it physically take the time to stretch and/or go on a walk. If not, enjoy the rest, because your body clearly needs it. Think about how exactly you’re going to approach your next workout, when you’re ready obviously.
Be logical. Speaking from experience, you can take up to an entire week off without losing progress or gaining a massive amount of weight. I’ve done it. This year. Unexpectedly. It sucked, A LOT. But, within a week and half or so of being back to my normal routine, I was able to run just as far and lift just as much weight in the gym as I had previous to my time off. Don’t stress it or beat yourself up over it either. I know I am so guilty of this. But, at the end of the day, being hard on yourself isn’t going to get you any closer to your goals or get you back in the gym any quicker. In fact, that extra stress could actually hamper your recovery progress.
Lastly, try your best to not compare where you’re at right now with your workout routine to where you were last week, last month, or last year. I can be frustrating to not be where you want to be with your workout frequency, intensity, and progress. But, if you know deep down that you’re giving it everything you’ve got, then there’s not much else you can do. Be proud of where you’re at right now, and strive to do something, anything that’s going to get you one step closer to your fitness goals.