Key Points to Reflect On and Incorporated Into Your Experience of Exercise
- Enhance your awareness of your relationship to exercise which includes how it makes you feel when you do it.
The main reason to exercise should be for the right reasons. If you’re doing it under compulsion or because you feel you HAVE TO, that is not the right reason to workout. You should feel refreshed, strengthened, empowered, etc. while working out, not completely drained, exhausted, etc.
- Expand the variety of activities you do. Try visiting parks, dancing, hiking, biking, walking or yoga to broaden your options.
How often do we get stuck in the same routine, doing the same workout time after time? Why not try and branch out and try something different and new? There are so many different forms of exercise, it’s important to try and expand your horizons a bit and not get stuck in the same routine day after day, week after week.
- Seek out other places for activity besides the gym. Get outside, play with kids, garden, build a dog house, paint the front door, whatever you want.
Do you feel that if you don’t go to the gym, you’re not really getting in any measurable physical activity? Wrong. Simple things around the house, running errands, and chores all fall into the category of exercise.
- Take a healthy buddy with you to make it fun and social.
Make exercise fun! Sometimes it can get boring or tedious going to the gym or working out alone. Why not make working out a fun, social event? Try something different and have fun with a friend while you’re at it. Maybe sign up for a yoga class or another gym class with a friend.
- Focus on strength, not “toning”. Really focus on fun!!
There is more to a workout than toning up. Instead of making your workout revolve around trying to fix or correct or change some part of your body, view working out as a means of enjoyment, mood-busting, and enrichment!
- Focusing on others will only minimize your own skills, achievements and body’s needs. If you find yourself comparing, close your eyes for a moment and focus on your breathing to center yourself.
Comparisons are such a deadly trap…and one that almost everyone falls into at some point in time. There is no sense in comparing yourself to someone else while working out or exercising or looking at someone else’s physical abilities and workout achievements and feeling horrible about your own. Each person has their own level of skill and different strengths. Choose to focus on your personal growth and achievements and not fall into comparing yourself with others. This can be especially easy to do in the blogging world. Focus on yourself and how well you are doing for you.
- Incorporate physical activity in conjunction with an appropriate meal plan.
Nutrition is essential in order to function properly in the day to day. You need a proper, well-balanced meal plan/diet just to be able to wake up each day. Now, incorporate exercise, and that need for food and proper nutrition will increase. If you are going to work out on a given day, you need to increase your food and calorie consumption. If you don’t, you are only setting yourself up for a train wreck. Try exercising while food deprived and your performance will surely lack. Compare this with how you feel while working out after a properly nutrition-filled day of food consumption. The difference is so noticeable.
- Be flexible about how and when you exercise. Healthy exercise allows for the unexpected. It is OK to miss some workouts.
Ever feel like your exercise schedule and routine is the most important thing and if anything gets in the way of your designated “work out time”, you will just have to reschedule? Do you find yourself planning your day around your work outs? Sometimes life just happens and things come up, preventing us from following our normal plans. Do you find that you respond negatively to something that comes up preventing you from following your workout routine for the day, or are you able to relax and take it in stride? Try and evaluate your feelings and be honest with yourself. It may be time to re-evaluate your priorities and set a healthy balance with your workouts. It’s also OK to not work out on a day you had previously designated as a workout day. Listen to your body and listen to your reality and follow suit.
- Record exercise-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a journal. Read back over these to help you identify patterns of healthy and unhealthy exercise.
This is actually a really good idea. It can really help you analyze and look at the reasons why you exercise, when you choose to exercise, and how you feel about yourself and situations around your exercise routine. Do you exercise when you feel your self-esteem is low or after you “indulged” on a food you later felt you shouldn’t have or felt guilty about? Understanding the reasons why we choose to exercise and how it makes us feel can be very enlightening. Take the time to seriously try this out. You may be surprised by what you find.
- Be critical of sources of fitness information. Do not buy these magazines or go on the internet. Cultivate a discerning ability to critique unreal body images presented in the media.
You’ve heard it said that you can’t believe everything you hear (or read) even if it seems to come from a reputable source. Be cautious about what you choose to read and what you take at face value. Especially beware of what you read online where people’s personal opinions quickly overshadow actual truth and fact-based evidence. It may seem valid or backed up by valid sources, but even doubt these pieces of information.
Also, don’t let the standards and “best-of-the-best” as portrayed in the media be what you view as “normal” or “ideal”. Those bodies in health and fitness magazines ARE NOT the norm or realistic. The majority of the population will never achieves bodies like these, no matter how many hours are spent working out. So be realistic and reasonable in what you see and don’t be quick to view that as what you need to look like.
- Everyone needs days off of activity to rest and repair.
Days off are NECESSARY!!! Plain and simple. Your body cannot, day after day, week after week, be stretched, strained, pulled, bent, flexed, etc. and not be worn out. Your body requires time to rest and repair itself after workouts (even ones that don’t seem high-intensity!) Listen to your body, respect what your body needs, and give your body time to rest and recuperate. Your next workout will reap good results and your body will thank you!
- Do not use calories burnt or reps done to tell you when to stop. Practice listening to your body and respect what it is telling you.
This can be a really tough thing to do. We often try and push ourselves and our limits. I challenge you on any given day when you go to the gym or do your workout, don’t wear your Garmin, don’t track your calories burned or your distance traveled; don’t count how many reps you’ve done. At the gym, don’t enter your actual weight into the treadmill or elliptical (use some preposterous number instead so you have no idea what your calorie burn is) and just do what feels right for you and your body. I’ve actually done this quite often and it’s really, surprisingly freeing, not being bound by the calories burned, speed, or time of my workout. Just listen to your body!
- Be careful of your expectations for yourself related to exercise. Unrealistic expectations can lead to exercise abuse. You are not training for the Olympics.
Set reasonable, realistic goals for yourself. Ones that challenge you, within reason. You have no reason to push yourself to the extreme and risk hurting yourself or over-doing it. There is always time to grow, work, and advance…no need to make it all happen in a week! Pace yourself and be reasonable! Enjoy your workouts, don’t make them torturous!
– List From Eating Disorders Today, Summer 2004 (with my add-ins!)
As of late, my working out solely consists of yoga. I have found SUCH a love for yoga. I had been restricted from vigorous exercise, and that actually was a lot easier for me than I thought it would be. I was doing nothing for a while aside from short walks. Which worked for me. Then, as just a random decision in the spur of the moment, I decided I’d give yoga a shot. For so long I told myself I would never do yoga; I was convinced it was NOT for me. But this time around in recovery I decided I’d let down my guard in every way and just give anything a shot. So, I did. And thank GOODNESS I did! I can’t even tell you how much I love it! I can’t get enough!! 😀