There have been times in my fitness journey where I’ve left the gym and felt overwhelmed with disappointment, whether it was due to injury, lack of motivation, or even something like coming off of vacation. I came across the words by famous poet, Maya Angelou. She said, “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” This quote in itself led me to take a look at self-compassion. I’ve mindfully put into action the knowledge I’ve gathered over the last few months and applied them towards my workouts.
First things first when it comes to working out…it’s important to eat. I realized that I need food! With the amount of energy and effort I give to my workout, using food for fuel became my first mindful attempt to start my kindness trend. At times I’ve noticed that during my workout I begin to feel light-headed and have tummy growls that no amount of water could quiet. In the morning, I would only grab a banana and a yogurt and run a RPM of 3.0 or higher in the gym. I would do my warm-up, increase my weights during my strength training portion, and jump rope in between the two. First-round of the workout, I would be good. Second-round, I would be unfocused and hungry. Third-round, I would end up walking to the closest deli to eat! This created a revolving door of cheating myself. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a sandwich, but the problem for me was giving up too early into my workout and harshly punishing myself for the mere fact that I was hungry. On my way to the deli shop, I’d be bashing myself for leaving the gym and be upset at myself for being hungry. Breakfast is an important meal to kick-off your day, especially when you’re planning for a workout. For that time of day where I criticize myself the most, I need to make sure that my body has the fuel that it needs to fully benefit from my workout.
Food is important for your body, especially when it comes to working out. The body needs to be able to burn calories during our workouts, and without it, we lose the energy that is needed. I learned that one of the keys to a good workout is actually having healthy foods in your system that will help keep you strong and satisfied while you workout. My mood and thought patterns become more positive after I eat. Therefore, my first step for success was to put together a meal that matched my workout goals for that day. Eating foods throughout the day that cater to the success of my workout is a sure way of being kind to your body and your workout.
I was able to tackle the first problem by making sure my body had the essential foods it needed to burn calories and increase my energy. The next issue was to make sure that I followed through with my workouts strategically, ensuring that I did the proper warm-up, workout, stretches, and cool-down for my body. Mapping your workouts, allowing yourself to see what your goals are for the day, and hitting all of the important factors are important when working out. The breakdown of a daily workout can be found here. This is when I can apply effort and focus in order to maintain the integrity of the workout.
Kindness and compassion should NEVER be seen as laziness during the workout. This whole process is about coaching yourself through one of the toughest things you put your body through. We choose to challenge ourselves and reach new goals, making sure to avoid injury. When you relax your mind, try to consistently remind yourself to be your own best friend. Make sure that you give yourself a pep talk when tackling workouts; say nice things, compliment, encourage, and enjoy yourself! It may sound a lot like “mirror talk,” but remember that it’s okay to give yourself these positive affirmations. Get rid of the negative and instead of saying “I can’t,” you can remember how good it feels to say “I can do 100 core crunches with no problem!” Take the time to enjoy what you decided to do. With the tools at hand, it will trigger pleasant results and improve your confidence. Motivation is a great thing and working out definitely enhances that. Other mood-boosting suggestions can be used to assist workouts and be beneficial to them.
Next time you decide to add extra weights to your machine or you tackle a new workout, be sure to add more positivity to them. Take the time to provide the body with sustenance before and after your workout. Continue to stay hydrated throughout the day. Take time to warm up thoroughly, based on the fitness routine we have committed to. Put forth much effort, not slacking, and enjoying the process. It’s time to smile and move forward. Self-compassion is worth exploring, especially when we apply it toward our fitness lifestyle. The personal achievement of being aware and present daily will ignite a desire to train and workout with style and grace.
For more information on weight management, nutrition and health issues, and meal planning, please visit the United States Department of Agriculture. Nutrition-related articles, food information, and other dietary facts can be found.
Article Written by Chante Smith, Instructor at Aradia Fitness Cary in Cary, North Carolina
March 23, 2017