“No pain, no gain.”
“Sore today, strong tomorrow.”
“We don’t need machines; we are the machines.”
I’m sure you all have read or heard one of these quotes or any number of other quotes telling you that workouts have to be all out. That you have to leaving nothing in the tank. That the way to make progress is to put yourself in the “pain cave” and to stay there. Not only have I heard just about all of them, I’ve no doubt said them all at one time and had meant it, too.
But it’s just not true all of the time, and for many of us, it’s not what we need all of the time. Exercise is a wonderful thing with so many benefits, but we need to be mindful that it puts stress on the body. If you already have a huge amount of stress in your life, don’t beat yourself up if the last thing you want to do is a workout that grinds you down.
Just because you’re used to going all in on a workout doesn’t mean that anything less doesn’t count. Doing a workout at 50% of what you normally would is still a deposit into your “health bank” or your “well-being bank”. Just doing the warm-up or a 15 minute walk is still doing something.
There will be times that exercise is the highlight of your day and there will be other times where you struggle to find the motivation to train. I own a gym and there are times I struggle to find the motivation to train. Don’t be too hard on yourself for feeling that way. It’s perfectly normal, and I promise you are not alone in that.
Try to reframe why you are exercising. The end goal doesn’t have to be a 200-lb back squat or a sub-6-minute mile. The goal can just be to move. The goal can just be longevity and good health. The goal can be just to have some time to yourself or to have time with your friends. Doing some sort of exercise is still a huge positive even if it doesn’t feel like you’re going to pass out doing it.
If you’re struggling with training or have completely given up, here are a couple of suggestions that may help:
- EXERCISE IN THE MORNING. I’m a mom of a toddler who likes to get up as early as 5:30am, so I am fully with you if the idea of doing something like this sounds completely insane, but stick with me. We’ve all got a set amount willpower and it depletes as the day goes on. If you can get your movement in before you start your day, when your willpower is at its’ strongest, the chances of you doing something are much greater. Get your workout in first so nothing else can get in your way as the day goes on.
- PICK EASIER WORKOUTS. A 20-30 minute walk counts as a workout. Three rounds of 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups counts as a workout. Working out as you listen to your favorite podcast or watching re-runs of The Office is not only acceptable, but I’d highly encourage it. Move. Pick the beginner option of the workout or scale it even further back than that if you need to. I promise you the coaches would rather see you in and doing what you can than not see you at all. Pick something you love doing. Forget doing things you want to be better at or because they’re your weakness at this time. Training should be fun and, at times, challenging, but when struggling to show up, it has to be fun.
- NINE SQUARE GRID. Draw a grid on a sheet of paper, like tic-tac-toe. It can be as many boxes as you want, but the more goes, the harder it is, so start with just nine. Pick a movement. While you’re watching tv, catching up with friends, or doing anything really, do a set of that movement. Write the number in the grid. Rest and relax. When ready, do another set. By the time your tv show has ended, you’ll have done nine or more sets!
- EMOM (EVERY MINUTE, ON THE MINUTE). Minute one: squats. Minute two: push-ups. Minute three: lunges. Minute four: plank. Aim for just twenty seconds of work each minute, giving you about 40 seconds of rest.
- TRAIN WITH SOMEONE. If you live with someone, see if they want to do something with you. It doesn’t matter if you have vastly different backgrounds or abilities. Training with someone means you’re accountable to someone. If you don’t live with someone, get outside and exercise with someone, video call and train with someone. It doesn’t even matter if you’re doing the same thing. Come to Jurassic CrossFit and train next to people who come from all backgrounds and have all different abilities. If you’re looking for accountability and someone to care for you, we care and we want to see you succeed.
There’s more than enough going on around the world to take its’ toll on you. Don’t add to it by being so gosh darn hard on yourself, especially when it comes to exercise (or lack thereof). Try doing just a little something. It you don’t manage it today, that doesn’t really matter. Try again tomorrow.
Written by Kayla Allen
Inspiration provided by PJ Cavalli at Tribe.London