Aug 31, 2010

working out effectively: part two.

hey guys - long time no see!

i feel like i am slowly being restored these last few days (all credit to god!). it's been a long week of blood, sweat, and tears, but it's amazing how much he's healed me since my disasterous late teens - i'm (mostly) stable now. even in the middle of heart break, i know there is peace and a PURPOSE for this.

anyways, i gotta get boogie-ing on down to school here soon, but i wanted to bang out this thought real quick before my runner's high wears off.

this morning, i realized how different my perspective is on a "good workout." i used to get so frustrated by not being fast enough, not logging enough miles, being out of shape, my shorts pinching my stomach, my shoes not fitting... you get the picture. i had this standard of how you SHOULD exercise, and i was certainly not living up to it.

i thought frustration was just a necessary part of being "healthy" (at the time, that meant skinny), but my body wasn't the problem - it was my expectations.

my tip, if you want to call it that, on how to love moving your body?

tackle one challenge at a time.

get new shoes? ok, your goal is to just get comfortable.

just start walking after a few years break? sweet. make it your goal to just DO IT.

coming back from an injury/illness? just move pain-free.

going through a major life change? enjoy some free exercise therapy!

see what i'm saying? i used to give up on working out because i thought i had to be fast AND efficient AND skinny AND committed AND loving every step AND a morning person... yada yada.

taking one step at a time allows you to focus and be encouraged about what you actually can accomplish! it also helps you track your progress, because you can easily tell how you're feeling in that area. take your time - you are worth it! it's not a race, right?

the best things i've ever done for my workouts?

- leave my watch/garmin/heart rate monitor at home. i am not a performance athlete, why do i care about time? my body certainly doesn't.

- stop counting my miles. don't get me wrong, accomplishing a goal is a good thing, but please don't tell yourself you have to do that everyday.

- stop comparing myself to other exercisers and their habits. it's my LIFEstyle, not a test of committment or a popularity contest.

- do what you LOVE. if you hate running, don't do it! do cycling, tennis, aerobics classes, volleyball, etc. instead. life is way too short to be stuck doing something you hate just to check working out off the to-do list. i highly doubt you'll get to the end of your life and regret not getting on the elliptical more when you despised it.

- just be YOU. i promise you will be so much happier with yourself if you just do what YOU feel comfortable with, and nothing more. there's no exercise judge. this isn't american idol - just feel good that you did an amazing thing for your body today!

i'm sure you guys have many helpful thoughts on the matter: what would you like to change about your exercise mentality, what expectations do you have of yourself, and what have you learned that's helped you accept your own exercise habits?


  1. when i ran in high school i was all about time, miles, distance, speed, recovery etc. it felt robotic and was the reason i stopped the sport and gave it up altogether. when i started having more stress in my life i didnt know what i should do, i knew running just added more stress although i missed the runners high. i realized that if i got rid of all the robotic tendancies i had with running and used it as a leisurely non-combative way to reduce stress, then i could love the sport again and do it for me versus anyone else. it was hard because my dad is really into the sport of running vs. the love of it... which is fine, but for me it always felt like too much. now i just take it sporatically and do it for enjoyment only. no timing, distance rationalizing, speed, comeptition etc.

    btw i just saw you on Katharina's blog <3 left a comment there, but wanted to say you look GORGEOUS!!!

  2. Love this post!

    I just started swimming because running was just too much on my joints and fibro. It's important to listen to our bodies and find what works for us as individuals.

  3. I thought the same thing this morning.

    I got up and just did some light walking and a little stationary bike just to move a little while I was studying and it felt great to just MOVE and not worry about intervals and high intensity and calorie burnage.

  4. Great post! I used to focus so hard on distance and time and how fast I was compared to everyone else and ever since I cut back and learned a few things about what target heart rate actually means from a cardiologist (it's a gimmick for the most part ;)), I've been much happier with my routine.

    I stick to 20 minutes a day so that I don't get caught up in working out until I'm dead in the morning and have no energy for the day ahead. I tell myself that if I have energy and want to workout more, there's more time to do it in the evening.

    I'm not a fan of exercise to begin with, though. I'd much rather read, cook, eat, play guitar, etc. So I still watch the timer on the equipment to know when I'm "done." It's something I'm working at weaning off and listening more to my body. Don't get me wrong, I like running and biking, but the sooner I get a workout over and feel great, refreshed, showered and ready to start my day, the better.

  5. I've learned to set one realistic goal for myself each week. And my goal is only one step above the goal for last week. For example, last week's goal was to work out 4 xs. This week it's 5xs. :D

  6. i've definitely learned that there's more to life than just the took me a while to accept that i couldn't spend hours and hours working out each day, but once i did i finally started to live!

  7. Love this! I have definitely used exercise as a punishment, or ended every workout feeling bad about myself for not being good enough. I think it's only when we let go of those expectations - and like you said, just focus on one simple, healthy goal - that we are able to find the true joy in exercise. :)

  8. This is a great reminder to ease up. Exercise should have an element of fun, and focusing so much on succeeding at every aspect of it is exhausting! One thing I've been doing recently is instead of running a certain number of miles, I've begun running for a length of time, which I try to approximate rather than be stringent about (e.g. 40 minutes). It might be all the same to other people, but for me not focusing on speed and distance helps me ease up on myself and focus more on how my body feels. I go slower, but it's okay!

  9. Such good advice!!! I'm totally guilty of taking the fun out of exercising... and then I don't want to do it... which is followed by more guilt from not exercising... etc. I need to just ease up and enjoy it!

  10. I would like to stop thinking that I need to run. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE running but for almost a month now I haven't been doing it because I just.don' All I feel like doing are my DVDs and I'm finally starting to accept that it's okay. I'll start running again when I feel like it. :)

  11. my exercise mentality has finally changed to allow for my body being the best it can be, regardless of what the best is for someone else.
    No more comparisons!
    Heck-I'm not a figure competitor, bodybuilder, long distance runner, or yogi. I just want it to work well, efficiently, and be strong.
    No more forcing it to extremes :)

  12. I used to count numbers when working, but now I just listen to music and go with how my body is feeling...and I love it!!! Sometimes I do use a timer for my high intensity workouts, but mainly to keep me moving ; )

  13. wonderful post! i think one thing that has been proven that exercise NEEDS to be a life long commitment and how can you expect it to be if you hate it?? so often we are worried about our minutes or our miles or what have you but in reality we just need to MOVE our bodies, that is what they were designed for!

  14. One of the best things I ever did was stop using my HR monitor during workouts. It's bad enough I used to count calories obsessively like nobody's business. And just the pressure of burning X amount of calories per workout made things so much worse.

    I find that what I like to do exercise wise changes through the year. In the summer I like to lift in the gym. In the fall I like to run outdoors. Then there are times that I'm just on a home yoga kick. I've finally accepted that :)


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