[Week 8 of 12 Weeks to a Healthy New Year]
Three important things to keep in mind for an individual workout.
Most people have a bad habit of coming away from their workouts telling themselves all of the things they could’ve, should’ve done better. What we all need to learn to do is enjoy our accomplishments at the same time as we evaluate goals. You should always find something to be happy about with your workout.
There are 3 basic steps to make this happen for yourself:
- Plan your workout with positive realism
- Engage in your workout honest flexibility
- Evaluate your workout with humble self-encouragement
Getting a handle on positive realism for your workout
Planning your workout will always be easier if you workout regularly, because you will have a much better idea of your current capabilities and limits. However, even people who exercise regularly tend to set goals for individual workouts that really should be overall or longterm goals.
The emphasis in planning a single workout should be based on that day. Have you been extra stressed lately? Have you exercised hard recently? Have you just had a rest period? Is the weather going to impact your efforts? Did the visiting grandchild or puppy get you up a lot last night? If you are realistic about your current state of being, you will plan for a more appropriate workout and be much more likely to do it to your satisfaction.
Still, individual workouts should never be used as a true measure of accomplishment. Sure, you can enjoy something that goes particularly well, but we all have good days and bad days. Pinning our hopes on one workout, or even race, leads to inaccurate evaluation. This can lead to discouragement or injury.
Teaching yourself when to be flexible during a workout
Once you have started a workout, you are not locked into it. Use the plans you have made as motivators, but not as slave drivers or excuses. Possibly you have planned to bike a certain distance, but the wind is much fiercer than you realized. Maybe you were only going to swim half a mile, but feel fairly fresh at the planned end point. In each case, you body is probably giving you clues that you should listen to.
If you push yourself on with a planned goal, but your body is tired, you risk injury or unhelpful exhaustion. When you skip doing a bit more when it feels right, you miss a good opportunity to safely and comfortably gain strength. Either way, the overall effect is to diminish your progress toward your overall goals.
How you talk to yourself during a workout needs to be honest, too. Do not treat yourself like a professional athlete who is paid to exercise. While exercise is very beneficial for everyone, we all have different amounts of time we can spend at it.
Don’t talk to yourself like you are a marshmallow either. We all have muscles, lungs, and hearts that have incredible capacity to reward our efforts. Be thankful for yours by letting them do their jobs.
Why it is important to encourage yourself
It is misplaced humility to always say degrading things about yourself. Everyone has their challenges or advantages. If something is really bothering you, ask yourself what can be done about it. Maybe you can be motivated by that, or maybe you need to adjust your perspective. Just realize that being negative has the effect of demotivating you. It saps your energy and your relationships.
Instead, go ahead and be happy about what you have done in a particular workout. So what if it was slower or shorter than your ideal plan. Who cares if the person next to you was lifting more weight or had “better” form. Chances are they are also dissatisfied with themselves. Even if they are not, you are not on their journey. You are on yours. Celebrate every step you take on it.
Remember that youth is fleeting and perfection is temporary at best. You can humbly admit your weaknesses without wallowing in them. Say a few kind and positive things to yourself after each workout. Write them down and post them if it helps you remember. Be your own nicest coach.
Accidentally coaching others
What you think has a tendency to show on your face and come out of your mouth. Whether it be during a workout at the gym or later with a friend, your good attitude will probably encourage someone else. You don’t have to be a fitness expert to positively influence others about their own efforts. You just have to be a example of how your treat yourself.