Whether you’re planning to take your fitness to the next level, or simply trying to make exercise more of a regular habit this year, this is about that time when the reality of life and your dreams of fitness perfection start to have to fight it out.
When the work stress starts to get real after the holidays have finished, and getting good sleep and good food regularly become real challenges, it’s common to feel frustrated and the world is conspiring against you. If you’re kind of feeling like this, this post is for you.
You’ve been doing great. You’ve been doing almost perfectly. But it’s getting harder to keep it up, and you don’t think you can keep this up for the rest of the year. And you know what? Chances are, you’re not going to be able to. But that’s okay. The truth is, if you’re interested in making health and fitness a part of your life permanently, you’re going to need to learn that your training, much like everything else in life, has to be able to accommodate the constant fluctuations in life. Here are a few tips and strategies that will help to make your exercise habits last…
Realise that you’re not alone
Unless you’re a professional athlete, it’s highly unlikely that your training regimen is going to be perfect each and every day. Us as coaches still don’t have anything close to the perfect training and eating schedule, either. And that’s okay. There’s nothing catastrophic about skipping a workout every now and then, or having a few beers on the weekend. In the grand scheme of things, it’s about what you do consistently.
Be aware of the ‘floodgates’
For some people, if it can’t be done perfectly, it can get tempting to just give say “I’m giving in!” and just let the floodgates open. A few cheat meals and skipped sessions turns into jumping off the wagon head first into ice cream. Acknowledge that if your schedule is interrupted by travel and work demands, or you’re simply too tired for a session today, it’s okay to scale back and let loose a little – just remember that there’s no need or reason to let the floodgates open.
Talk to a coach
Like I mentioned earlier, none of us have it dialled in perfectly all the time. What the coaches have gotten really good at is going by ‘feeling’. You don’t have to be fully tuned in and strict all year long, and it’s okay to have your fitness levels vary throughout the year. In fact, it may be healthier to let your body chill and have some down time. We as coaches have real-world advice and experience with making things work even with imperfect sleep habits, work schedules, family commitments and travel plans, and we’d love to help out where we can.
Be okay with rest days
The fitter you get, the harder you can push. Sometimes, this means your body might need a little bit longer to recover from hard sessions because you’ve simply done more work than you used to be able to do. In addition, when real life gets in the way and you don’t get enough sleep, for example, your body simply might not be ready for a session. Don’t be afraid of taking a rest day – but also don’t use it as an excuse to eat all the pizza you want! Get outdoors, get some sun, or catch up on sleep.
Do an easy week.
In addition to taking rest days, it might be a good idea to intentionally fit in an easy week of training every few weeks. Traditionally, athletes extend this concept to something called periodisation. As we we don’t get to train like athletes, it may be a good idea to simply give yourself an easy week every now and then. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t train at all – it could mean that when you come in you simply practice the basic movements and work on the finer details of your breathing and technique without pushing too hard. In the long run, these easy weeks will pay off because you get a chance to recover, and you get a chance to work on improving technique instead of just pushing the boundaries all the time. Talk to a coach about it!
Catch up on sleep.
We’ve danced around this throughout the post, and it’s because sleep is so important. We’re less able to recover from and deal with stress when we’re sleep deprived. On top of this, it’s actually really difficult for your body to get good results if you don’t get enough sleep because hormonally you’re thrown off your ideal balance. If you’re feeling run down, make sleep a priority.
Are you eating enough?
Sure, it might be hard to calculate calories in and out, but the concept here isn’t hard to grasp: If you can do a lot more work in your sessions and train more frequently now, your output has increased significantly compared to what you could do a couple of months ago. This means you’ll need more food to recover from all the workouts. I’m not saying you should eat another burger, I’m saying it might be a good idea to eat a little more healthy protein, fat and carbs. Again, talk to a coach about it if you need some guidance.
Keep yourself accountable.
There are many ways to do this, and one easy way is to bring a friend along to join you and the rest of us here. Another thing you can do is make use of SugarWOD and track the number of sessions you do in a week, set yourself a weekly or monthly goal you can work towards. This will help keep you on track to where you want to be and what you want to achieve.
It’s tough to incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your everyday life, but if you decide to take pride in your ability to adapt to what life throws at you, you’ll be better off and more likely to stick to the habit. There’s no need to get overly frustrated if your workout schedule gets interfered with or if you let yourself skip a workout or two. Adjust, and move on with your day.
Think about this: if you go out to dinner with your partner and get to your favourite restaurant and find that you’re favourite meal isn’t on the menu, would you decide to just not eat dinner that night? What if your friend can’t no longer meet up with you after work? Would you decide that you’re never going to eat dinner with him/her ever again because things didn’t go exactly as planned? Probably not.
If you want to keep training a regular part of your life, you have to be able to be flexible, and acknowledge that things aren’t going to be perfect all the time. And that’s okay. Also, don’t forget that we’re here for you. Everyone needs support now and then, so reach out. We’re in this together.