How To Make the Most of the Hard Days
by Kat Warner
It’s awesome when your energy is high, you are mentally charged and ready to go, and you feel like you can tackle anything. But what about those days when you just don’t feel it?
Even when we know what is good for us, it can be harder on some days than others to get ourselves to follow through with healthy habits like exercise.
Everyone has those days. Workouts will feel harder, you may feel tired or weak, your body won’t be responding like you want, and it may make you want to give up. Making sure you get adequate rest days to recover is one way to safeguard yourself from this slump. But what if it’s happening all the time?
Here are some helpful tips to remember when you find yourself in a slump.
1. Reflect on your schedule and your work load.
When was the last time you took a rest day?
Are you working the same muscle groups day after day without breaking for recovery?
Are you repeating the same routine so much that you are losing interest?
Consider your overall routine and what may be contributing to the drag, and adjust as necessary by adding in more rest or variety to your activities.
2. Check in with your sleep
How have you been sleeping? Do you frequently wake at night or struggle to sleep deeply?
Are you getting enough quality or quantity to feel rested in the morning?
Taking a look at your night time routine and how your energy wanes through the day will give you insight into what you might be needing to tweak.
3. What is the stress level in your life right now?
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being perfectly mellow and 10 being near a nervous breakdown, how would you rank the stressors in your life?
Remember that all stress, mental, emotionally, financial, relational, can all permeate into the physical stress we hold in our bodies. Those intangible stressors can manifest in our bodies as tension, tightness, headaches, anxiety, depression and even directly impact our gut health, digestion and sleep.
It’s imperative to look at how you are managing your stress, and what kinds of things you are doing to counter them in the form of self-care, relaxation, social support and meaningful work.
4. Are you a lone ranger?
Sometimes we just need a little comradery to perk us up and push us a little harder. Consider teaming up with a friend, coworker or family member in your fitness routine, or joining a local class in your area. You will often surprise yourself with just how much more you can do when you are with a friend or in a group, And you will have the added motivator of spending time with people you enjoy, which is good for our emotional health and can reframe the way we look at exercise.
How to break out of the all-or-nothing mindset: Rules to Remember
1% is better than 0%
Baby steps are better than standing still or giving up. Just because you may not be able to bring the same energy or enthusiasm as you did the last workout doesn’t mean you should give up or stop. Everything counts and every effort makes a difference-even if it’s just the mental training to keep going when it’s hard. It’s not all about burning calories or building muscle-you are training your brain to prioritize movement for your deep health, for the benefit of a healthy heart, balanced hormones, better outlook on life, mental endurance.
Tiny wins are the best way to build confidence and stamina. You may feel overwhelmed or discouraged if you are trying to do too much too soon.
When you train for a 5k, you don’t start out by running 3 miles on day one. You may start with a small run/walk for 1 mile, and do that for several days to a week as you build stamina. Giving yourself time to grow into yourself as an athlete will allow your body to not only avoid injury and burnout, but allow your mind to experience the wins and rewards of completing the task, because you are starting out at your level.
Break it up!
Did you know that 20+0 is the same as 10+10? No, I'm not trying to insult your math skills; I am just showing you that you can actually get the same benefits of exercise when it’s broken into segments as when it’s in one big chunk. If 20 or 30 minutes doesn’t work well for your schedule or your body quite yet, then break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks! 10 minutes in the morning and 10 in the afternoon will give you the same benefits! You could do 15/15 or 10/10/10 and find that you actually have more to give and get more out of your shorter sessions! There are no rules-so do what works for you!
Look for the Breakthrough
Sometimes the best workouts come from the push to keep going when your brain is saying, “This is too hard. You can’t do this. You should stop.” We will all be confronted with mental battles that will tempt us to quit before our time is up or we’ve reached our goal. (Again, this is why rest days are so important.) But if you have ever pushed through that and come out on the other side to feel the burst of endorphins and adrenaline that comes when you keep going, you have experienced the power of the breakthrough. Giving yourself a chance to see what you are made of requires you to override those thoughts of defeat with your higher brain. YOU ARE THE BOSS. You tell your body what to do. Physical training quickly turns into mental training, and it’s a powerful feeling when you allow yourself to keep going and finish the work when you feel like stopping.