I love the benefits of living an active lifestyle. I am not a competitive person, but I find an incredible amount of joy in finding my edge. Most of the time.
There have been seasons, where training for an event was just what I needed. There have also been seasons when training for an event or setting too many expectations and goals became more stressful then helpful.
When your scheduled workouts are no longer something you look forward to, then it may be time to make some changes. And by changes I mean more then just changing the number of days you run hills, intervals, or work solely on advanced inversions.
Since developing a consistent yoga practice, one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have a hard time letting go. My days are filled with more then just my own personal schedule and agenda. I’m guessing yours is as well. Because of this, the only schedule that I have often feltl I have had “control” of is my fitness plan. So fitting it all in may have equated to getting out of bed long before the sun came up, or putting off going to bed long past a healthy hour-just to make sure I could check of my workout(s) for the day. Some of my lofty expectations have meant I ran extra miles instead of listening to my body and giving it what it needed–sometimes I know I could have benefited for additional strength work, cross training (whether on a bike on a yoga mat) or recovery days with restorative yoga poses (more deep stretching). If I would have have really checked in with my body, rather then only being intune with my agenda, my recovery times would have increased, I would have felt better, and I might have even improved my speed–just by dropping the schedule and tuning in to my body.
Sometime our “goals” can replace the very reason we set the goals in the first place—to live life well.
So, I have a few ideas that might help the next time you find yourself talking yourself into your next run, swim, weight session or yoga class…
1. Let go of your expectations! This doesn’t mean you quit, you may just need to give yourself permission to figure out why you are no longer loving what you are working so hard to fit in each day.
2. Quit counting calories, hills, classes, planks, minutes and miles. If you are a runner, instead of using your tech gear-just lace up your shoes, leave your Fitbit or Timex at home, and go run a familiar path, with the goal of enjoying your run. In that time you can notice your form, and just begin to let your mind unwind. If you are practicing yoga, instead of counting your Surya B’s and number of inversions and advanced backbending, focus only on staying with your breath-for the entire class! If you love weight training, then train light for a week or two. Maybe you intentionally give your self permission to try this for just one to two weeks. I can almost guarantee that when the time is up, you will be more intune with your body, remember why you make time for fitness, and maybe even corrected some bad habits due to rushing and pushing too hard.
If you still need further convincing, how about we consider the science of our bodies, and how what we do matters internally as well as externally. Every single day, most of us live with a certain level of stress. When we create too many expectations for our health goals, we can inadvertently be initiating an extra release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is healthy and necessary, unless released and sustained in high levels. While intentions may be good, our nervous systems may be responding to the high levels by releasing cortisol for too long, causing interference with a healthy endocrine system, weakening the immune system, impairing digesting, metabolic and mental functions; and destroying healthy muscle and bone.
So the next time you set a new a new goal(s) for your health and fitness level, I encourage you to take time and be mindful of your body. Instead of allowing your schedule to determine your day/week or month, honor your body and mind–you make the choice, that is the most intelligent for you.