So you started off strong with a fitness plan in September….and now that it’s December you’re feeling the strain to keep up the momentum. You know you should go to your classes this week, but that cold weather is making it oh so hard to get out of bed. Pretty soon you find yourself contemplating what you will do to make it all up to yourself in the New Year.
While it may be counter-intuitive, backing off from that ambitious workout plan may be the best thing you can do to avoid total burnout. Here’s how to manage your expectations and come out the other side even stronger.
1. Practice Acceptance—
As the seasons change, so do your needs. Have you noticed in the winter you want to sleep and eat more, and your joints are tighter than usual? Accepting this as a natural part of life will help you slow down when your body signals the warning. After all, you are a limited human being who cannot sustain peak performance year round. Even high level athletes are accepting of “off months” in which they rest more often.
2. Reframe the outcome—
Ok, so you’re too tired this week to burn 600 calories in your usual cardio class. Does that mean a gentle pilates class is a waste of time. Of course not! You will have increased circulation, flexibility, improved your mood and sharpened your mind. That’s a lot to be proud of.
The happiest among us have learned to evolve past “all or nothing” thinking.
3. Extend compassion (to yourself)
Does your internal voice say “I need to whip myself into shape”? Sounds harsh, right? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at that internal dialogue. Happiness and health don’t happen by force, but rather by listening to your body and getting in tune with its needs. Maybe your body needs a gentle stretch, a walk and some rest today. Nurture yourself as you would a best friend, and you will have more energy in the days ahead.
4. Identify the punishment mindset:
Using exercise as punishment is a vicious cycle. You eat too much “forbidden food”, so you exercise more, so you eat more, so you exercise more, and so on. Sound familiar? This leads to fatigue and frustration, which dig you even deeper into the hole of despair. Recognize when it is time to fight the battle in the kitchen, not on the spin bike. Consider breaking the cycle by taking a day off a day or two from exercise just to focus on eating better. Drink more water, rest, and eat slowly and mindfully. The next day, do a gentle workout and continue focusing on your diet. Pretty soon you will feel much better having taken control of the situation.
5. Just. Keep. Going
After you have extended yourself compassion and taken a small break, get back in there! Be imperfect, be slow, do it badly, but just DO IT. Living out your fitness goals requires the same dedication as being in a marriage or having a career. You’re committed even when it’s not going your way. If you keep showing up, you are still better than you were yesterday. And that’s what counts.
If you have a tough time sticking with your workout, give pilates a try (or a second try)! Let us help you get into the rhythm of an active life.