Monday, October 28, 2013

For When There Just Isn't Time

You know when you have one of those weeks where you seem to be half as busy as normal? Like things magically solved themselves and you accumulated free time that you hadn't known existed before professors learned how to post mandatory assignments at random online.  Okay really these types of weeks happen once in a blue moon most of the time, but what's worse is the following week. These 'home-free-things-fixed-themselves' days usually signify that the to-do list is merely stocking up its arsenal. I get genuinely suspicious when I find myself with options for how to spend my time, and almost every time, a calm week signifies the craziness that is to come.

Last week was one of those weeks. So of course this week was double the madness IE extra work hours, double the meetings, and a very dirty apartment that needed a bath.  When things get hectic finding time to workout can be a very real struggle.  While anyone on the outside would just tell you to wake up at the crack of dawn to fit it in like it's some no brainier,  I wonder how willing would you be to step out of bed after 4 hours of sleep and a marathon of a day under your belt? Not very I'm assuming. From there you are forced to make choices and what's the first to go you ask...probably not your favorite hour of TV...nor eating (thank goodness for necessities)... but an hour long session in the weight room, sweat drenched clothes, and achy muscles? I suppose we could find room for some cuts.

The result is the cycle of un-productivity. No workout leads to feeling like a slug, feeling like a slug leads to Netflix marathons, lack of real marathons happening means even less working out, and so on. So for when your weeks sneak up on you, and there just isn't time I am telling you there is time so just do it you will thank yourself later.

Multitask: read while walking or walk while reading whatever works best. Sure there are studies that have shown the ineffectiveness of pairing work with your workout, but even 20 minutes of the two works your brain in a totally different way that counts.

Stop sitting: burn more cals per hour and feel more awake by not sitting. Pace around, walk backwards whatever works for you. Progressive "fit companies" have the stand up desk and so can you.

5 minute fire drill: there are TONS of pre-made minute by minute workouts at your finger tips, so use em! In 5 minutes you can supposedly burn 100 cals with 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, and 15 push ups...can't argue with that.

Roll with it: once you get going and start demolishing your to-do list it can be hard to slow down. Use that energy to squeeze in even a half hour of gym time, in the case of thee overworked college student a little goes a long way in most situations.

Reward system: 10 push ups for every page studied? how exciting! Okay so feeling the full force of your body weight and your ability (or lack there of in my case) to support it may not be the most enjoyable way to spend a minute, but the adrenaline from upping your heart rate for a little can get you focused by working both your brain and your muscles.

When things get crazy even the smallest workout can be the best form of therapy. Try to keep making your health a priority even through the hectic times.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Sweat?

We all workout for different reasons. Whenever I am asked or think about why I choose to sweat things out as opposed to other hobbies or interests, it is always a little challenging to describe. Yes like most of us, a huge reason is so I can squeeze into pants when the opportunity presents itself. Yes, so I can go wild and get desert with dinner from time to time. I can even admit that I workout because I fear what my backside would look like otherwise. But the more I think about it, the more I know it is for more than that.

People try to start loving fitness all the time, and half the time this attempt at the treadmill results in reinforcing why Netflix and ice cream made you feel much better. It is pretty mind blowing that some people would kill for a full day of gym time, while others would rather go get a splinter and then slam their finger in there car door before they looked at the weight room.

After considering possible reasons as to why there is such a great exercise divide, I have decided that it comes down to individual motivation. Are you the 'will sweat for beach season' kind? Or the 'it fulfills my soul' type? Even having a combination of the two can put you at various points on the 'why bother working out at all' spectrum.

Your workout goals can be the deciding factor in the future of your fitness minded lifestyle. It is important to understand your motivation towards an active lifestyle which will allow you to more easily anticipate how you will handle potential obstacles and the experience as a whole. If you had to generalize the one major reason why people push themselves to the point of physical exhaustion one answer is probably for happiness. You want to feel happy with yourself, your thoughts, your appearance, etc. From there everything else will start heading in the right least it should if your goals are in order.

Where those trying to break into fitness fall short, are those goals that are materially focused. Meaning you ellipticize because you will be the best looking naked person in the room. You strut around hoping to bump into that gorgeous dumbbell dude you see every day. Or the classic doing laps for the best gym candid to hit Instagram in 2013. These are all extrinsically minded goals. When you are shooting for status over fulfillment, chances are your plan to become a fitness enthusiast will last about as long as your new Nike shoes are in style. Really at this point the goal isn't even to enjoy a workout, but you still pretend that was the original goal. As a result, you the gymstagramer will resolve yourself to the fact that it "just wasn't for you", and bitterly recall that one time you tried...insert grand workout plan here. 

People who act on extrinsic motivations are dramatically less happy and successful than those who are intrinsically motivated.

A few CHAARG girls reaching their goals
The majority of researchers agree that when it comes to the human brain you've gotta use it or lose it. Contrary to how you may feel after your first date with the personal trainer, your mind loves change. One of the best ways to enhance happiness is to change it up in simple ways. Intrinsic goals and trying new things in hopes of personal growth end up being more rewarding and keep you feeling fulfilled. These motivations are why you all of a sudden can appreciate stepping in someones sweat imprint after hot yoga, or why sweat flinging off the back of the treadmill doesn't make you nauseous. When you are in the process of trying out a lifestyle in fitness, it is a beneficial choice to try it for the reward of the sweat, or the sheer accomplishment of trying something new. If you have realistic expectations and hope for how a workout will be rewarding, the habit will catch on and become a part of your lifestyle.

There is a reason material wants are objects. They remain detached and only surface level. Utilizing intrinsic goals in your workout journey will ensure that whatever the outcome is, it will be a meaningful one. This idea clearly applies to anything you could want in life from careers to relationships, and it certainly pertains to achieving a more worthwhile existence.

Whether fitness is already a lifestyle or something you have considered pursuing, have balance, an open mind, and you will never cease to surprise yourself!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So You Want to Follow a Health Plan

I recently started following an exercise plan. A full blown this is what you do every day scheduled agenda. This was my first time ever tackling something that involved commitment and accountability in terms of fitness.  Usually my attention span fails me once I get a week in and I'm on to the next thing. I'm sure this tendency is linked to some deeper trait that reflects qualities in personal character, but for now I'm choosing to look at it for face value.  It is just such a foreign concept. Usually my decision to either go to the gym or run outside is decided on a 5 minute walk in between classes where I gauge the weather and/or how enjoyable it would be to run outside. I have run half marathons and never followed a strict race schedule, and I rarely know what I weigh (the universal agonizing number for most gals). I am quickly realizing that my "fitness routine" is more like a trip to IKEA you never know what you'll be walking home with.

This method has benefited me in numerous ways, primarily though keeping everything guessing from my body to running buddies; it's all just up in the air, non-committal and pressure free. For some reason I have always disregarded the 90 day shred, or whatever intense daily commitment a lot of people choose to make. It's not that there is any issue with doing something every day, but more so attempting to avoid the stress that comes with accountability. The thought of analyzing every single day's work is intimidating, especially when the last time you paid this much attention to your personal daily life was coping with the emotional aftermath of the Dexter series finale.

some of the lovely fitplan participants

 When it comes to workouts, finding what works for you can be hard enough on top of keeping track of the fit schedule you willingly registered for.  Here are a few things I felt the need to write out in hopes of motivating others who are wary of things with a specific time of commitment.  

Adjustments a non-commiter must make towards commitment:

One commitment doesn't need to turn into 5: It was like once I successfully accomplished a few days of the plan I had these adrenaline induced muscles that allowed me to be in 5 places at once.  Once you are productive in some aspect of your life, you suddenly find this motivation to start giving 150% at everything you do. While this is a really amazing thing, one day of power yoga isn't going to give you the ability to seamlessly rehab your entire life resist the urge to spread yourself too thin.  

Change IS stressful: This workout just asked me to go into the weight room. Like the room that has the bar and the sweaty dudes slinging weights around. It is a place where neon Nike frees and Luluemon tights are like having an extra limb coming out of your chest.  I have always been amazed at people who can just move to a new place, transition into a new job, break up with their boyfriend, and go on like all is right with the world. Tackling a workout regimen will challenge you to accept change both with your body and routine. It may feel a little stressful, but a little change can go a long way.
Routine is a good thing: Non-commiters are no stranger to chaos. In fact a day filled with simultaneous failed plans, spilled coffee, and forgotten exams is almost expected.  Once you avoid commitment for so long the idea of a routine can seem daunting.  Let your new workout plan help bring you back to some semblance of a schedule.  Just when you are feeling too overwhelmed by the day, your daily workout can help ease the stress. 

No 'do this to do that' mentality: The beautiful thing about a fitness plan is that it is solely focused on producing change for YOU. None of that SHAPE magazine run for an hour to burn off the two cookies you had at lunch, or swimming a bazillion laps equals the calories in your sliver of cake.  "Motivators" like that can make anyone turn towards a pack of Oreos to avoid all of the calculations.  Your fitness plan is meant to be an aid, not a tool through which you continue to over analyze your life.  

Let go of control: I have run a for half hour on the treadmill every day since you were in the fourth grade.  Your fitness plan is going to challenge that need to control your routine.  Whatever it is about working out it seem like once you find what you enjoy the thought of missing your squat reps can seem downright insane.  A fitness regimen will help broaden your interests as well as reveal new opportunities you may not have considered. 

It doesn't mean you are doing it wrong: Now you didn't get to do your squat reps and some other weird rep came and took its place. I found myself  going back and doing my 'comfort zone workout' after completing the new plan's daily routine.  It took a few days for it to sink in that whatever plan you are following is called a plan for a reason.  The new workouts may not be the same, but they still count!

Thank you Share it Fitness for challenging us to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. It will be exciting to see the changes!