Exercise Reality Check

Once I was talking to a friend about how Mondays are a huge train wreck for me. I wake up and completely freak out because there’s so much to do and I have no idea where to start. Email? A new article? A blog post? Google the phenomenon known as ‘avocado hand’?

There is simply too much to do!

My response? Jump in and start doing something. That would be fine if I then didn’t spend the entire time wondering if I should be doing that other thing…or what about that other thing?

And what is this ‘avocado hand’ and what if I have it?? (Don’t look this up – seriously it’s when people cut themselves while slicing an avocado. We can all get on with our lives now)

This circular anxiety-ridden process led my friend to compare my approach to working to going on a road without a map. How do you know where you’re going if you don’t plan it out?

Although having a map does not mean that I won’t get lost. (please no comment, husband. I have no sense of direction and never will. Move on.)

With that in mind, we came up with this plan to do a kind of reality check on Mondays. Sit down, lay everything out and make a map of sorts so I have a semi-clue of what I’m doing…

See where this is going? Yep, we’re about to talk about exercise.

Exercise Reality Check.

Like my map-less Mondays, it’s easy to get lost navigating the fitness world.

My question to you today is, where are you and where are you going? Do you have a plan? If so, have you examined your plan lately to figure out if it’s working for you?

Are you doing what you need to do and, if not, how do you figure it out?

The first step is this:

Stop.

Your next step is to figure out where you are so we can locate you and send in the rescue squad. To continue the map analogy, let’s look at some of the most common places you might be and how you might navigate your way to somewhere new.

Which one do you recognize?

1. Moving Forward

If you’re here, you’re moving along quite nicely. You have a map or even better, GPS. If you’re moving forward, you likely have this exercise thing licked. You’re doing what you need to do and you feel good about it.

If you’re here, do you need to go somewhere else? Not necessarily, but here’s a question: How can you make things even better? My suggestion is to try something new and different. I have some ideas:

Guided Workouts – Streaming Videos and Smartphone Apps

This is my favorite way to gather lots of new workout options. The more choices you have, the more interesting your exercise life will be. You can wake up, pick a new workout and go. Keep in mind, most of these are subscription services. You really do get what you pay for. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Cathe Friedrich On Demand – Cathe is one of my favorite instructors and I’ve done her videos for years. She has hundreds of videos to choose from – Step, strength training, circuit training, HIIT, kickboxing, yoga…it’s all there.
  • Aaptive – This is a smartphone app with a variety of guided workouts for all fitness levels – Treadmill, elliptical, outdoor walks and runs and so forth. What I love is that they use great music, old and new, by the original artists.
  • PumpOne.com Fitness Class – I really love this app because there are tons of videos by a huge variety of instructors. You get a lot for your money here.
  • Personalized workouts – And, hey, I’m a personal trainer remember? I do virtual training (skype, facetime, etc), or I can create workouts and programs just for you, focusing on your goals, equipment, what you like/hate and working around any physical issues you may have. I can even make personalized workout videos for you. Holler at me if you’re interested.

2. Treading Water

If you’re here then maybe you’re in some lake in the middle of Toadsuck Ferry, Arkansas and you don’t know how to get out of it.

There’s nothing wrong with Toadsuck Ferry, but there are other lakes to explore. Yes, treading water is frustrating, especially when you want to move forward. But, this phase often sets the stage for doing just that.

You may be here because you’re not exercising at all and you know you should. Or maybe you’re doing the hit-or-miss workout – you’re good for a few days and then you go off the rails.

So, what do you do if you’re not moving forward? First, consider why you’re there.

Are you overwhelmed?

Like my Monday I-have-to-do-everything-right-now mentality, you may feel like you have to do every workout you haven’t been doing right now.

It’s kind of like wanting to make up for lost time. Trust me, even if you could do every workout under the sun today, you would only end up in traction in the hospital.

So, here are some thoughts for moving forward from the oh-my-god-I’ve-fallen-way-behind feeling:

  • Acknowledge – Not to sound cheesy, but sometimes you have to go through some mental exercises before you can get back to physical workouts. Take some time to acknowledge what happened. You stopped working out – There are probably reasons for that. What were they? Think about them or write them down.
  • Understand – Now, think about why you stopped working out. Do your reasons make sense? If a friend came to you and said, “I totally stopped working out because my knee hurt and I couldn’t figure out what exercises to do and then work stressed me out…” Doesn’t that make sense? Don’t your reasons make sense? Wouldn’t you sympathize with your friend? I’m going to go all therapy now and say turn that sympathy around and give it to yourself.
  • Forgive – You’re human. You’re a good person with good intentions. Maybe you don’t always know the answer, but you always keep trying. It’s okay to fall off the wagon. You can always get back on…always, always, always.
  • Give yourself permission to start easy – Now, your mind is probably in a better place, so maybe set a goal to do something really simple every day – something that feels good. And if you need help figuring out where to start, I happen to have some suggestions:
    • START 8-Week Exercise Program – This program figures everything out for you – Videos, a complete workout schedule that gets you started and keeps you moving.
    • Work with me – As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I’m a personal trainer. I do this for a living. I can help.
    • Just go for a walk – That’s as simple as it gets and it’s exercise!

3. Digging a Rut

This is one of my favorite things to do. Give me a routine and I will follow that routine until my eyeballs fall out, roll across the floor and end up behind the refrigerator.

Think about it: You get into a nice comfortable routine (Monday: Running, Tuesday: Weights, Wednesday: Yoga, etc.) and it’s all working like a well-oiled machine until, suddenly, it doesn’t. And then you feel like quitting. So, what do you do?

  • Identify the problem – Boredom is just one reason a program stops working. Are you frustrated with lack of results? Don’t like some of the activities you’ve been doing? Not sure if what you’re doing is right for your goals?
  • Solve the problem – Unlike most things in life, this is a solvable problem. For example, boredom is almost always a contributor to any well-dug rut. Some thoughts:
    • Make your own workout – Turn on some music, put on some shoes and do stuff. Dance around, march in place, do some knee lifts…just move around and don’t worry about it.
    • Throw the rules out the window – Instead of worrying about reps and sets or heart rate and intensity, just do a workout with no rules. Go out and run as far as you feel like it and then walk for as long as you feel like it. Pick up some weights and do as many squats or biceps curls as you can. See how many pushups you can do. Make an entire workout using a deck of cards – Draw one and do an exercise for the number on the card. Take your usual workout and do it backward, from the end to the beginning.
    • Do something fun – Throw a frisbee, play paddle ball, walk the dog and let him sniff all he wants, go for a walk and count how many trees you pass. Toss a ball in the yard. Just forget it’s exercise. Just move.

We all get caught up in the ‘rules’ of exercise, but that can make things feel stale and boring. Maybe you need to break those rules to remember why moving your body doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

4. Moving Backward

If you’re not doing anything and you don’t know how to stop doing nothing, it may feel like you’re moving backward. Not a pleasant feeling, I know.

So, how do you get out of it? How do you get yourself motivated to do something, anything?

Here’s the answer: Just Start.

Pick something and do it every single day. No matter what. It can be the smallest thing…doesn’t matter.

  • Do one stretch first thing in the morning: Try this one.
  • Every day before lunch, take a 5-minute walk.
  • While you’re brushing your teeth, do squats.
  • The moment you turn on your TV, lie down and do 15 reps of this exercise. Better yet, do this entire workout while watching TV.

Just pick one or all and do it every day. Same time, same exercise….every day. There.

You’re moving forward now.

Got a comment? I’d love to hear where you are and how you’re navigating things.

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