So it’s Valentine’s day, but the love I’m talking about today isn’t for your other half. It’s the love (or love/hate) relationship with fitness and working out.
I’m often asked where I find my motivation from to keep working out as often as I do. And the honest answer is that sometimes it’s hard. I mean really hard. On those days where I’ve already been in the park for 5 hours in the cold, I’ve had a less than ideal interaction with a hormonal teenager at home, I’ve got another client in 90 minutes from now and I’d much rather just go home and eat warm soup, I have to not overthink how much I’d rather not workout.
The first thing I do is tell myself that I don’t HAVE to workout. It’s my body and my choice and I workout because I LOVE my body and what it can do and not because it’s not good enough and needs punishing. What I DO need to do though, is get my workout kit on (and let’s face it, once you’ve got your sports bra and trainers on, you do start to feel like jumping around…) Because taking your workout kit off when you HAVEN’T done a workout is really pants. I’ve only ever done it once or twice and it sucks. You spend far more time feeling crappy for not having worked out, than you would actually sweating so it makes no sense.
So, once you’ve got your workout kit on, the next step is just to get the warmup done. At the end of the warmup, if you still want to go home and curl up under a duvet, then you probably should because most likely you’re either already ill, or about to be and a workout is not going to do you any favours.
Once you’ve done the warmup, you’re not only physically warmed up, but perhaps more relevantly here, you are mentally more prepared to put yourself through a workout. Now if you train with me, you’ll know that when we workout we really mean it. We are not in the ‘sitting on a gym bike whilst reading a magazine’ gang. So if you can start the high intensity part, then you’ve won the battle and you just need to do each interval as it comes.
The best bit comes after you finish because a) you won the mental battle and b) you’re full of endorphins and the thought of not working out is already a distant memory. Quite simply, you feel so damn strong, sexy, capable and empowered that you are now invincible and are already looking forward to your next workout.
Working out hard is addictive. Once you’re in the cycle, you want to keep doing it and it is THIS feeling which drives us to keep putting ourselves through that initial mental battle. But the more battles you win, the more battles you WILL win because you just KNOW that the feeling afterwards (not to mention the body shape changes) are so worth it. And as for your mood, well, a good workout does things to your mind and mental health which no amount of pills will (and in far less time too with only positive side effects…).
Equally, when you miss a workout or two, the mental battle to get one done becomes bigger. It’s much easier to come up with excuses (you’ll think that they’re reasons, but they’re almost always not, they’re excuses) as to why you probably shouldn’t exercise like you didn’t sleep too well last night so probably shouldn’t get more tired, or it’s the wrong time of the month or you need to conserve energy for XYZ (which is never valid as working out GIVES you energy) or you probably haven’t eaten enough or…… #blablabla
When I used to row competitively, I was very active on a rowing forum and the rowing community was a great, supportive bunch of people, many of them seriously elite rowers. I always found it so reassuring that even these people (you know, world champions) would come onto the forum and express their anxiety at the rowing session which they were about to embark on. I have to admit that it took me a little while to figure out what it meant, but often people would respond simply with “JFDI”. It’s the direct, no BS type of approach, much like the way we workout and, quite simply, it works. (btw, if you’re still figuring out the JFDI bit, think NIKE with a bit of spice 😉 )
But if you’d prefer the fluffy, comfortable “only on the days where you feel like it” type approach, then I suggest you find a gym bike and a magazine… 😉
Happy Valentines Day people! Now, what are you going to do today to love YOUR body?