Ok…I have to confess…This morning…I did NOT want to work out. I was stuck my morning cycle of make a cup a coffee, surf the net, think about working out, playing with Mila. Rinse. Repeat. Some days I feel no drive to workout. Zero.
Where does this feeling stem from? I obviously care about staying in shape and love the results, but why does it seem like I get lazy somedays and just can't get moving?
While my story of becoming a mom and getting myself back on track might be inspiring to some of you – and you might think that I run around every day at the height of self-motivation and busting out a workout with little to no whining… Some days, I don't feel energetic at all…and worse, sometimes I even consider just ignoring all of my learned behaviors, baking a cake and settling down for a day in front of the TV…oh yeah, and ordering chinese for fun.
But I don't.
These types of days happen way less now that I've been on the right path for awhile and have achieved some level of fitness and health, but it does happen. It used to happen way more and was a big problem for a long time. Not only did I randomly drop my good habits, but I would be a little self-destructive even — as if I wanted to undo all the good that I had achieved. I would do all that I listed above…and be planning my next food & laziness adventure.
But now I want to explain how I overcome my moments of fitness rebellion and manage to stay on track–and how you can also stay focused even when you don't feel like planning that healthy meal or getting your workout done.
All along your fitness journey – whether you've started a diet (god forbid you are on a diet, but if you are, you might be in for an even tougher ride, but I digress), started a new exercise program, you've been eating healthier, you have cut out sugars or flours…you might feel that little twinge of despair, hunger, lack of motivation and just plain helplessness. The feelings might be quite strong especially if you haven't seen any improvements or changes in your body or you think you haven't lost any weight.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
Do you use the success stories of others on a similar path to motivate you? Or do these people just depress you even more if what you are doing doesn't appear to be working? Are you happy for friends who've lost weight or secretly jealous of their achievements?
Even though we are all human (thanks Yaro for reminding me!) and might get annoyed at the bubbly woman in your office who just finished a marathon or lost weight, you know logically that it's much more valuable to you and your own progress to see this woman as a motivator. Use her story for inspiration. Congratulate her on her achievement. But I know, I know…it's easy to see someone and think yah, but I bet she didn't have to deal with all the crap I deal with…so it must have been easy for her! I can't tell you how many times I have come across this in my life – it's just as hard for the person being “judged” (I know this for a fact.).
Try to remember that your thoughts and your mind can be your biggest asset or worst enemy depending on how you choose to look at the world around you. If you look at people who succeed or get “what you want” as enemies or competitors, you might just convince yourself that you aren't worth the effort and if it hasn't worked by now maybe you will never get in shape. The truth is, it's hard for everyone to stay on track sometimes or to get on track in the first place. Don't judge someone because they look like they have it easy…you don't know what lead to their achievement and I can tell you it's not “easy” for anyone.
Work Out Even When You Don't Feel Like It!
One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten over the years from various trainers and coaches is on the days I don't have a lot of energy, is “just start your workout with the plan of exercising for 5 or 10 minutes.” If I still don't feel like working out, then I stop. At least, I've shown up, kept my habit in tact and stayed on the path to fitness.
Most of the time, I'll get to the 5 minute mark and decide to keep going and often get a burst of energy.
Another piece of advice that helped me get through those early weeks on the Red Carpet Ready program was to work through the tough times when I was cranky, getting used to having less sugar in my diet, and push through the feeling that I just might fail. Doing that extra (mental & physical) push especially at the beginning helps you establish habits that will stick, so you don't have to rely solely on your willpower. Now, I'm able to force myself to be productive and workout when I don't feel like it. But I'm not going to lie…those first 2 weeks were tough. Tough Tough Tough.
Just the other day when I was lounging around in my pajamas (yes it happens a bit now and then again), I realized that if I went upstairs to put on my workout clothes, I would be tempted to start something else — maybe clean the bathroom or read a magazine near my bed or just start cleaning out a random closet. It was one of those days where literally any step I took away from my workout space would end in me conveniently finding something else to do.
So what did I do?
I stayed in my pajamas, turned on a pandora music mix, pulled a workout from my workout binder…and did it…barefoot in my pajamas. Was it my best workout? Who cares! I got it done. In fact, I did way more than I thought I was going to do…
It took me awhile to get to this point where I could actually see that I was going to do something random to avoid my workout…and then talk to myself through the moment like a child almost and say, “Ok…we're doing this workout…we're not going anywhere until it's finished. I don't care what you think you have to do, this comes first right now while we have the chance. You will thank me later.”
Another trick I've used is to set a timer on my iphone, computer or in the kitchen for 20-30 minutes…and work out for until I'm saved by the bell.
When you are first starting out it is crucial to keep working out every single day (maybe mini workouts on some days, cardio on others, circuit training, a yoga class, or whatever!). Be aware of your energy level, but be consistent and get the job done. I use many of the same tactics above for other areas of my life, like responding to important emails, calling clients, doing the dishes, cleaning, and reading.
What to do when Nothing is Going Right
Kids will get sick, you will get sick, there will be random things that come up during your day – work will keep you late and cut into your workout time or force you to eat the pizza at work instead of your salad at home. You gotta just roll with it all as much as you can and remember that this is a process.
For beginning exercisers, one of the greatest challenges is explaining what you are doing to your friends and family. At least it was one of my biggest challenges. People around me were constantly asking me what I needed to lose weight for…why was I eating a certain way, why was I working out in the mornings…why wouldn't I eat that slice of cake or have another glass of wine. If you are surrounded by this running commentary all the time, it could make your results come slowww and will take even more patience and dedication to stay the course.
Just know that you aren't alone in this. Everyone deals with it. Everyone has someone in their life who for whatever reason feels the need to question your efforts to get in shape and eat right. Be on the lookout for them and just keep your message the same–like a mantra that strengthens your resolve each time you say it.
I want to be healthier and more fit. I want to have more energy.
I'm not on a diet.
I want to feel better.
Whatever your message is, just keep reiterating to them and anyone who makes it a point. Try not to get defensive, just take a deep breath and say what you will in a relaxed voice.
I love my family – both my husband's and my own, but when I first started taking care of myself, I felt like a target for everyone around me. To them, I looked thin, so therefore I had no reason (in their eyes) to be monitoring what I ate or drank. It took a long time and several dramatic outbursts (I'm not proud, but I can only take so much before I blow my top…and I did several times with reckless abandon — I love you Misha & Natalia, but I know you get it now and I love you for it.) before everyone realized I was NOT being/going/acting crazy.
As soon as they started seeing the changes in my body and overall outlook on life, they started to support me and their “negative”, “concerned” comments decreased. Now, they ask me for advice. HA! (Ok…I'm a little smug about this, but come on… )
What was tough for them to see and for me too really was that at the beginning everything appears and feels so vague. You haven't seen results, so you are just blindly moving forward believing that your body will change and that your energy will improve and that you will be happier. Know that this ambiguity will dissolve as your waist line shrinks and the color comes back into your cheeks and you're running around with your daughter and feeling great — or any number of other positive outcomes of taking care of yourself.
What activity can you do today?
The importance of Mini-Goals.
One of the things I did and still do whenever I just don't feel like working out is focus on getting some specific movement activity done, rather than worry about the final outcome or my big goal. I know that once I set an intention to do some activity that moves my body or plan a week of healthy meals or whatever, I have taken a productive action…and I stay on track toward my best body and health.
Guess what happens when you focus on and complete just 1 activity? Your mood will lift, your energy level will increase, and you will experience a feeling of calm. On the other hand, if you choose to sit on the couch, eat bon bons, watch tv…you might start feeling bad about yourself and a snowball effect will happen in the negative. Even if your body needs to sit on the couch and relax, there is always something you can do to feel better. A walk outside is a great way to get some fresh air, clear your head and know that you didn't give up just because you had PMS or had a hangover.
When you complete the activity or task you've set for yourself – whether it's a modified workout or going swimming for 30 minutes or a long walk with your daughter — the change in your emotional state and overall feeling of well-being will improve, taking you to the next activity and workout you set for yourself.
Why do you keep working out and eating clean?
We all want to feel better…physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you workout, you might release the stress that's built up from a tough day at your job…or from sitting long hours in front of a computer. When you eat clean, your body feels like it's working right…your thoughts become clearer and you are able to focus better on all other areas of your life.
Are these reasons too vague for you? Maybe you need some more specific intentions to think about throughout your process…to make the journey worth it for you.
I'm an analyzer by nature, so I'm always thinking about how this or that makes me feel and comparing how different not-so-clean foods affect every aspect of me. I'm not kidding you, I think about how eating too much white flour or sugary foods make my body feel and how much I can eat before I start feeling “bad”. This is what keeps me going. I measure what's going on so I can stay really self-aware and make adjustments as soon as something doesn't feel right.
You need to find your reason for working out, eating clean, and taking care of yourself. At first it may feel like you are flying blind and just believing that you will reach your goals, but little by little you will move closer and closer to that ideal body you are trying to achieve. As soon as you make the decision to be committed to your health, you will reach your goals. But you have to be committed and make the decision…even before knowing how you body will look and how you will feel. Taking the leap of faith is a tough one, but worth it — take it from me! It's soooo worth it.
Once you make your big decision to change your life and take massive action to get things kickstarted…you might wonder how you'll keep the intensity up at that level. Well, truth is…you might not be able to. I've learned that my little activities and little efforts every single day push me closer and closer to where I want to be personally. Along the way, I take time to notice the small changes I see…don't feel like you are being vain…just look at yourself in the mirror. Does you skin look better? Do you notice new muscle tone in your shoulders? Do your jeans fit looser? Whatever it is…pay attention to those and congratulate yourself for the small or large victories.
After a year on a workout regimen of pilates and circuit training, working out consistently 2 or more times per week and eating clean 80% of the time, I have achieved more than I ever could have imagined. No matter what has been going on — vacations, family visiting, work schedule, growing toddler, everyday distractions, sickness, holidays, I stuck with it…and continue to do so.
Not everyone can sustain the energy and effort needed to reach their goals and move beyond them to even more success. Think about your life and realize that you won't be able to remove all those little things that you say sidetracks you from progressing and getting in shape….you won't feel like showing up to your workout every day.
But if you do really want to reach that point of success and achieve your goals, you need to complete all the necessary requirements/steps/processes to get there. It's pretty simple really – you can't do some of the work and hope to reach your goals or fit into that bikini. And you can't just do it on the days you feel like a superstar…because there will be many days when you won't feel even close to that.
Hard work, Consistent Action, Patience…and Self-Awareness will get you through the tough times. But you need all of these elements to achieve all of your goals.
What are you going to do today?