Working Out When It’s Hard

Oh, hey y’all. I know it’s been a while (again). I promise to pick back up now (really) on our regularly scheduled programming (like, one or two posts a week? nothin crazy). I was SUPER THROWN OFF by some stuff, including that pretty intensive ankle surgery I’m still recovering from, but I vow to continue to give you sweet fitnessing tips on the regular.

SO ANYWAY, let’s lead in with a quick chat about working out when it’s hard. I’ve had some struggles lately that have less to do with the surgery itself, and more to do with being significantly out of shape after being fitnessless for a month or two. This happens to a lot of us, for a lot of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • work gets real busy and knocks you out of your workout schedule
  • you get a puppy and can’t get to the gym without panicking that he/she is practicing his/her house-training, indoors
  • you get injured and can’t physically complete a workout for a while
  • you’re sick and your recovery period just extends into the rest of your life and then you’re embarrassed for not having shown up at the gym and just end up never going back, ever
  • you straight up give up for a while

So, all of these things are very possible, and can lead to weeks or months going by when you’re not working out. Which means that even if you love love LOVED working out, it’s probably gonna be harder when you start again (ps, you HAVE to start again). Which means you won’t be as good at the stuff you were before, and you won’t like it as much because of that, and you’ll be way more likely to want to quit than you were before your Dark Fitnessless Era.

First of all, that’s okay. It’s okay to not be good at stuff. In fact, I’ll bet no one at the gym even notices that you aren’t as good at stuff as before. That’s because they’re all self conscious about how good THEY are at stuff. They are not wondering why you can only hold a plank for 30 seconds instead of your usual 90, or why you’re doing stationary lunges instead of burpees. No one notices but you, so you can go ahead and stop worrying about that part of it.

So now to the other part, which is that it just isn’t as enjoyable. This part is hard. Not being good at stuff, by definition, makes it miserable (I’m assuming this is a universal thing), and doing something that you just hate doing is not going to be sustainable (and we all know that working out needs to be sustainable, because it is an essential part of a healthy fitnessing lifestyle). The good news is, this is mostly a mindset thing. Not in the “if you just believe you’re good then you’ll be good” way, but in the “re-align your goals to be realistic and rewarding” way. If all you’re thinking about during your workout is how you used to be able to do it twice is fast, or with heavier weights, or for 20 minutes longer, then of course you will hate your life. OF COURSE. But if you are honest with yourself about where you are in your fitnessing (probably on the lower side in this case, let’s be honest), and set your goals accordingly, then you will notice how much better you’re getting every day (and you ARE getting better every day, you just don’t notice it because you’re an idiot who can’t let go of the “good ole days”). Here are a few things to do as you’re getting back into the swing of things:

  1. Measure your next workout. Whatever it is you are doing, quantify it somehow. Just choose one way to measure: if you’re doing steady cardio, measure the length of time you do it. Circuits, measure how many reps you do in each minute. Lifting, note your current weight for a given amount of reps.
  2. Accept that this measurement is indicative of your current fitness level. Seriously. Accept that this is it, regardless of how many thousands of squat jumps you used to be able to do. This is your starting point.
  3. Work out 2-5 times over the next week. At least twice . You can handle that.
  4. One week after your assessment, do the same form of exercise, and measure again.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 over the course of one month.

At the end of the month, compare Week 4 with Week 1. Were you able to do more reps? Work out for several minutes longer? Do the same amount, but take fewer breaks? Breathe a little easier during your workout? Without fail, you will see improvement in one form or another. You will see that you are, actually, getting better. And If you keep doing it, you will continue to get better. And then soon you will be at the same level as you were before your Dark Fitnessless Era. And then you will STILL continue to get better. And as you see improvement, you will enjoy it more. Once you know your fitness level, you can set realistic goals for the week, meet them, and be proud of yourself. That’s what we call self efficacy, and it will make working out more enjoyable. Which will make you stick to it. Which will make you better at it. Which will make you enjoy it more. DO YOU SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?

So anyway. Don’t get down about it. Getting out of shape happens to everyone, even you, and there is a really simple way to get back into shape, and it’s called going to the gym. So, just go there.

OK really I promise these posts will be coming at you regularly again. See y’all next week.

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