After teaching BODY PUMP last night, a member told me that I always make the workout look easy. Well, that was news to me! It was a tough class and at times I felt like I was struggling to complete a block of work. But, it made me think…why is it that some days we are bursting with energy and others we have to fight to finish (or even begin) a workout? And, what can we do to push through when fatigue or the occasional lack of motivation threaten to derail our daily exercise routine?
Sometimes, symptoms of illness, fatigue, or pain are your body’s way of signaling that you need to take a break and perhaps skip the workout. But for those times when you’re frustrated by your workout or unenthusiastic (or even bored), here are some strategies to help shift your mindset and get you through.
Define a “Good” Workout. What do you consider a “good” workout? Heavier weights, more mileage, higher tuck jumps, more burpees, faster splits? Start to think about a good workout in terms of progress. Perhaps you don’t increase the amount of weight you’re lifting, but have better technique or range of motion. Maybe you’re not running quite as fast as you’d like, but your breath comes easier and you have no pain while running. Or, maybe it’s simply showing up and getting your session in.
Bad Workouts Happen. We all have our good days and our not-so-good days. According to David Roche, a running coach and author of “The Happy Runner”, the main thing to remember is that setbacks and failures are inevitable no matter what you do. A bad workout is just part of the journey of working out. Know you’ll get through it and be stronger because of it.
Find What Feels Good Today. Maybe today isn’t the day you go to a cycling class, blast the weights, or go out for a 10 mile run. Check in with your body. Are you still sore from yesterday’s session? Do you feel pain when you squat or lunge? Do your limbs feel heavy? Sometimes, we need a more restorative workout like gentle yoga or an easy swim in the pool. Listen to what your body is telling you.
Speak Kindly to Yourself. We are the first ones to judge, label, or discourage ourselves. And, the more we get down on ourselves, the worse we feel. So, talk to yourself, but pretend you’re cheering on a friend or loved one. According to research in the European Journal of Social Psychology, people who encouraged themselves with “you” statements (“You’ve got this!”) rather than “I” statements (“I can do this!”) were better able to push themselves through difficult tasks.
Something is Better Than Nothing. Even if you’re struggling, just do something. If you only have 30 minutes to work out when you’re used to an hour, it’s okay (and even preferable!) to utilize the short time you have and make the most of it. If you’re a beginner, know that it’s okay to attend a group fitness class and leave after 20 minutes. Next time, you’ll be able to do more. Focus on what you’ve achieved in your workout session. Sometimes just getting through counts as a win.