A couple of my favorite bloggers from Lindsay’s List and Carrots ‘N’ Cake also happen to be fitmixer® ambassadors and directed me over to the Let’s Break Up fitmixer® Giveaway. The theme is saying goodbye to things that are holding us back, whatever they may be. In honor of the theme, entrants are asked to write a break up letter to their “Woogie” (the name of the giveaway author’s security blanket that had to be left behind on the first day of school).
I thought long and hard about the things that sometimes hold me back. Some people had written break up letters to sleep (both a lack thereof and sleeping too much). Others had written about alcohol, laziness, and workout slumps. As I pondered what holds me back the most often, I could relate to almost every post that written. Then it hit me; my Woogie is excuses.
I wrote my break up letter a few days ago and posted it on the website:
But just like any difficult break up, it hasn’t been easy. The next morning (Wednesday) I couldn’t make it out of bed to go for a run before work, so I took running clothes with the intention of going for a run between work and class. Around 2:30 that afternoon I almost changed my mind. I told myself I shouldn’t jump back in too quickly because I didn’t run much the week before. I told myself that I should stay at work and get more done since I will be on vacation from work for two weeks. I told myself that I was too tired. They were all excuses.
I thought back to my post on the fitmixer® website and made the decision that I needed to go. I grabbed my clothes and did a 30-minute interval run with plenty of time to shower before class. I felt powerful, like I had conquered all of the excuses I had tried to make.
Yesterday I overslept again (I’m not great about getting up in the morning these days) so I decided that I should just run to the Hyatt (just over 3 miles away) for the JP Licks Mini Mingle last night. I figured that if I left work on time, I would be home by 5:30 or 5:45 at the latest and would have plenty of time to make dinner, eat, and head out. I left work on time, but my entire commute was a gridlock. By the time I got home at 6:10, I rushed to make myself something to eat. As I made the tuna wrap I had for dinner, I sent out this tweet:
I felt terrible about it almost immediately. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was just another excuse I was making. I thought, “Did you really eat enough food to get sick from running?” When I was honest with myself, I knew the answer was no. I also knew that I could always slow down my run if I started to feel gross. So I took it back:
I changed into my running clothes, threw my wallet, phone, and camera into my bag and tied it around my body. I figured this would be an effective way to carry things during my run because I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago on a 6-mile run with no issues.
The run was great overall! I felt pretty good the entire time, albeit it a little slow. My only real complaint was that the straps of my bag were hurting my collar bone and at first I couldn’t figure out why since they hadn’t been a problem before. Then I realized that the first time I tried this trick I was wearing a t-shirt, rather than the tank top I was wearing on my run to the Hyatt. I figured that I was essentially getting rope burn, so I untied the bag and tried running with it just on my shoulders. That worked for a few minutes, but I could tell it was going to start hurting too. My final decision was to just take it off and carry it. This is what my collar bone looks like today:
Talk about a “Duh!” moment. Protruding collar bone + rope rubbing over and over = open wound. Way to go, Becki. Still, as much as these things hurt and as sad as it is that my favorite body part is wounded (yeah, my favorite body part is my collar bone, what of it?), I’m glad I went for the run. Besides, I made myself feel better with this:
Everything is better after tart frozen yogurt and blueberries! Not to mention all of the amazing people I met last night at the #HLS12 JP Licks Mini Mingle. Special shout out to Rachael (another local blogger) for giving me a ride home after we walked back to the hotel. I wouldn’t have minded the 3 miles, but it was late and I didn’t really want to be trekking home for another hour. Thank you!!
What I don’t want to imply, however, is that you should always “suck it up” and workout when you aren’t feeling it. There is certainly a difference between making excuses and taking things slow to avoid injury and burnout. So how can you tell the difference?
It isn’t always easy. As you may have noticed, my excuses sometimes take the form of “I really should take it slow.” My advice if you’re considering skipping a workout, try to pinpoint why.
Have you been getting less sleep than normal and are feeling tired or rundown? Working out, despite using up a lot of energy, actually makes you more energetic over time. Chances are a workout might give you a burst of energy and help you sleep better at night (that is, provided you don’t workout immediately before bedtime). At the same time, take the extra sleep if you need it! Sleep is essential to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight because we tend to eat more when we’re tired. Feeling too fatigued to work out may also be the product of dehydration, so check your water intake
Are you getting bored with your workout routine? This kind of burnout is fairly common, especially among new exercisers. Keeping things exciting by switching up your routine helps to keep you motivated. When I’m just not feeling up for a run, I try to do something else to get in a burn. Generally by the time I pop in a workout DVD or do some Wii Zumba, I’m feeling energized and glad that I did it.
Have you been working out too much and your body needs a break? This may be your body telling you that you need to take it slow to avoid injury. Try getting in some good stretching to loosen up your muscles. Pay close attention to how your body responds and if you feel any pain or extra stiffness. If so, it may be in your best interest to slow down. Regular exercise is important, but overexercise can be dangerous.
If you’ve tried all of these approaches and just can’t pinpoint why you’re struggling to get motivation, check your emotions. When I’m feeling particularly anxious or stressed out, it’s harder for me to get motivated. This is somewhat counter intuitive because of how much exercise combats my stress. While exercise is commonly recommended for stress relief, keep in mind that everyone is different. If your stress level is particularly high, working out may feel like an extra chore, which will make you less likely to do it. Don’t feel guilty for missing a workout if you need to. Beating yourself up for doing what you need to do for your mental well-being can be just as unhealthy as being inactive.
My number one recommendation for increasing motivation and determining whether you really need a break is to just get out and try to exercise for 10 minutes. That’s it, just commit to 10 minutes of exercise. I’ve found that when I’m just making excuses to not work out, I don’t want to stop after 10 minutes and I’ll keep going. On the days when I am too fatigued, have too much on my mind, or need a break to protect my body, I still feel crummy and unmotivated after 10 minutes so I trust that feeling.
The moral of the story is to listen to what your body is telling you and only push yourself as hard and as far as you can do safely. We all want to succeed when we set goals, but pursuing them at the cost of our health (mental or physical) is never a good idea.
What do you do when you are lacking motivation to work out? What are the warning signs that you actually need to take a break?