First, I want to say thank you ALL for the Birthday Wishes yesterday! The emails, tweets, messages, posts I received was overwhelming!
I wanted to talk today about workout intensity and why it is okay to take a step back from it when it comes to exercise. There is this overwhelming theme I have noticed recently in the fitness and health 'world' that every workout should leave you exhausted, sore, tired or not able to walk. If you are not experiencing one of these feelings after your workout, well then you just weren't working out hard enough! What I want to do is dispel this myth and actually talk about why it is so important to take a step back and realize that workouts should not leave you feeling this way all of the time.
Too many times I see people who complete great workouts, but then will go on complaining about it because it wasn't 'hard or intense enough' When did it not become okay to just have a refreshing, fun workout that leaves you feeling energized, not fatigued and great about yourself?
I remember when I was younger (late teens and college) when my life would pretty much revolve around my workouts. I used to run. A lot. I would never have said I was a runner, but I ran. Almost everyday, with Sundays being my rest day. Even if I felt that my body needed a rest, I would not take it because, well, it wasn't my planned rest day! I needed that high from exercise, the sweat, intensity, feeling of pushing myself. I look back to where I was then and cannot believe how rigid and narrow minded I let myself become.
These days, as a fitness professional, I have a much different outlook on exercise in general. Exercise should make you feel energized, good about yourself, able to complete daily tasks with no pain or grunting. Above all, you should be having FUN. Why run if you hate running? I will never understand why some people partake in activities they truly do not enjoy. When I tell people I am a personal trainer, working in the fitness industry, I usually get a wide range of responses:
"Cool! You get paid to workout"
"That's great, man I love to workout, I should be a trainer"
"Sooo that's awesome, what else do you do for work"
It always makes me think about what I really do for a living. I certainly don't get paid to workout or just decided one day to get certified because I have a passion for exercise. I would say I am somewhat of a nerd when it comes to what I do. I truly have a passion for learning about the human body. When I meet with a client for the first time they are a blank canvas. My job is to assess, help them reach their goals safely and effectively and most of all educate. I get giddy when I meet with a new client because I love talking to all of my clients about self motivation, seeing changes in their bodies and assisting them with their workout program physically and mentally and spiritually.
So to say that my job is "getting paid to workout" is far from what I do. I want to help people and guide them on a path to healthier living, and help them achieve their goals whether that be to gain muscle, lose fat, gain self esteem, introduce them to new exercise the proper way. Everyday is different and every client is different.
So... most recently, I had a little bit of a bump in the road that caused me to take a step back from intense exercise for a short while. Everyone in my life kept asking me if I was going to be "okay" knowing that I couldn't exercise. They know how important exercise is in my life, so of course I knew I would get asked this question. My answer was simple: "Yes, I am more than okay, in fact I am happy to take a step back, recover, listen to my body and take this time to do more soul searching and mental exercise (which is something I do not do nearly enough)" 4-6 weeks out of my life is nothing in the long run. It never even crossed my mind that I would 'not be okay' because the lack of exercise in my life for this long. Sure maybe it will be a bit frustrating at first, but you know what? My health and wellbeing is far more important than pushing my body to a dangerous place.
I am continually seeing posts, tweets, Face book status' and magazine articles where some people almost brag about how they can't walk or feel fatigued after their extremely intense workout or how they worked out for 3 hours a day. I don't know about you, but when did this become the norm? I get frustrated because this sends such a mixed message to those who are just trying to do their best and may get frustrated or even worse quit all together because they are not living up to 'the norm'
Doing your best is different for everyone. I get that, and this is what I want everyone to realize. Everyone has different goals when it comes to their health, well being and physique. Some will want to gain muscle, some lose fat, some a little of both or some just want to feel better about themselves through exercise. The truth is, some workouts will and in fact should be intense because it can be a fabulous self esteem booster and stress reliever. What I am trying to emphasize is that it is okay to not give it your all every single workout.
Don't get me wrong,
I love lifting weights.
I love feeling strong
I love pushing myself and reaching new heights in my training.
What I also love is knowing that not every session has to have a specific outcome or goal. Not every session has to have a plan. It can be hard to realize this if you are so used to a workout schedule, but I want to challenge you to mix it up. I want to challenge you not put so much pressure on your workout regimen and see what its like to do what you want on the days you want, taking rest when you feel you need it and working hard when you feel you want to.
Just because you have a regimented, specific workout schedule, this doesn't mean you have to follow it to a "T" Remember, It is just a workout that is written on paper and trust me. Don't let your workout define you, you define yourself. It is an absolutely freeing and amazing feeling to sometimes not have a plan.
Know your body
Know how to push yourself
Recognize signs of over-doing it
Don't have any crazy expectations
Do something different
Do something you enjoy
Stay healthy, stay happy
Have you ever taken a step back from the intensity of some of your exercise sessions?
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.