Elements of a Great Workout: Sustainability

So we went over all the important elements of a great workout, right? 

Well there is one thing that hasn’t been discussed, Sustainability.

What do I mean when I talk about sustainability?  We have talked about the what’s and the how’s and some of the benefits to working out.  Here is where we dive into the motivation of keeping up a good thing.   For instance, we know eating healthy is important and we can rattle off healthy things to eat, but what keeps us from eating those things we say are healthy?  Motivation and Habits are the Keys. 

Sure we have the knowledge on what we can do for the warm-up and cool-down, upper and lower body, core and cardio.  But what if we do those things and then get in a rut?  This is where sustainability comes in.     

First we have to ask ourselves, Why do we even want to exercise?  And we need a better answer than, my doctor told me to, or it’s the right thing to do.  If we are being honest, those answers aren’t going to keep us going. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this.  Just because someone told us to, doesn’t mean that is going to keep us motivated and going strong.  Just because “it’s the right thing to do”, doesn’t mean squat and we will find excuse after excuse for why it’s not the right time yet.  We have to dig down to figure out our WHY. 

If you can’t answer this question, then you should move on and not waste your time.  I don’t say this because I’m heartless.  I am anything but that.  It’s because I can’t give you the answer.  My answer isn’t your answer.  This isn’t one size fits all (like that is even a real thing).  It’s why deep down you want things to be different.   It’s why you can’t stop thinking about it.  It’s why it’s always on your mind. It’s why every day or week or year you say THIS TIME it’ll be different.

But it hasn’t been different and yet you are still stuck in the same old routine.  So what makes you think if you keep going down this path things will change?

Let’s camp out here and dive deep. If you stop reading here, I’m fine with that. At least this will get you thinking as to your why because that is oh so important. This is the thing that keeps you going. This is the thing that keeps you coming back for more.  This is the thing that won’t let you quit, forever.  Sure we all go through ups and downs but do you get back up eventually?  That’s the true test to making sure your reason(s) and your why(s) are enough.

Next take a look at what you are already doing.  Here are some questions to ask yourself to uncover if something is going to work or find the reasons it won’t work, but you’ll be able to fix it. 

  • Is it fun for you?
  • Do you need to mix it up?
  • Is it efficient for you?
  • Do you need to do more in less time?
  • Are you still be challenged on the regular? 
  • Are you dreading the workout or are you a mix of nervous and excited?
  • Is it working for your season of life? 
  • Do you need to change the time of day, the length or anything about it to keep working out?

If the answer to these questions are on the positive swing, you are doing fabulous!!!!  If your answers are on the more negative side, you may want to switch gears.  Or at least think about…  Don’t worry – I’m not telling you to change your whole life just hear me out and keep reading.  

So what if things aren’t going well and you need a change? What if you are doing great, but want to make sure things keep going that way? Let’s go over keeping the fire lit.  For this step we want to write down things we like to do or have always wanted to try. These things can be hot yoga, boot camp, CrossFit, kick boxing, rowing, rock climbing, Pilates, walking the buckeye trail 😉, biking across the US, canoeing down the river, or even just trying a workout video from home. It doesn’t have to be crazy or a big deal, it just has to be what you have had your heart set on.  Make a list of things that get you excited. This way when something gets boring, you can go to the list and check to see what else you could do that would light the fire again.  This list will be a reminder of things you have wanted to do.  I forget constantly so notes and lists help to remind myself what my brilliant-yesterday-self thought of!!  Am I the only one that forgets things constantly?  Maybe I am, but this will be good for you too!

So One – We have our why that will keep us motivated.  Two – We took a good look at what we are currently doing in terms of our fitness and asked good questions to see if it is sustainable.  Three – We made a list of activities that excite us for when we get complacent and stuck in a rut, so we can keep moving forward.  (Notice I said “when”.  No single thing will keep your fire lit forever.  We as humans crave change even if it’s something small.  That little or big change helps us keep growing and evolving.  So try to embrace it and not fight it.) 

One last thing to make working out stick. 

Can you make working out a habit?  Can you put it in your calendar a consistent number of times in the week?  Can you block out time in your day to devote to you?  I’m not saying workout 7 times a day for 2 hours each time.  That is just not realistic to me and that doesn’t excite me.  I’m talking about, can you make an appointment in your calendar with yourself and your workout clothes and set it on repeat?  Can you sign up for a class every Monday that gets you excited?  Can you have a cue or trigger that helps you build in the habit of working out?  Say you sleep in your workout clothes or you block out an “out of office lunch” so you can get your walk in.  Can you message a friend and ask them if they are free on Thursday nights to take a kick boxing class together?  Or can you find a canoe group that canoes down your nearby river once a week after work? Find something and try it out consistently.  

I’m not saying your life has to revolve around working out, but your life should revolve around things that bring you joy and help you become the person you wish to be.  Be that volunteer at your church or work in your garden or cook dinner for your family.  All I’m saying is, if it’s important to you and you have been dreaming and wishing to be healthier, than make it a priority and start with the steps outlined above. 

  1. Figure out what your motivation is. 
  2. Take a look at what you are currently doing and ask the hard questions if what you are doing is working or not.
  3. Make a list of things that excite you.
  4. Figure out how to incorporate them in your life. Start small with a new habit and keep going!!!!

That’s really what sustainability is all about.  Can you keep up with what you are doing or do you need to make a change.  How can you keep working on your goals?  How can you make this a way of life so you can live happier and healthier?

That’s all I want for you.  I want you to be happier and healthier and don’t forget, stronger!  Because life is too short to be anything else. 

Who’s with me?

Thanks for joining me on this blog series of Elements of a Great Workout!  Got any questions or comments?  Think I forgot anything?  Love to hear it!

What Keeps You Sane?

Finding things that bring you joy and keep you sane is like finding a four leaf clover. It’s so magical and precious. You have to hold on to it for dear life.

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes you tick? What makes you bust out laughing or just have a constant smile on your face?  Maybe those moments are getting further and further apart, but that doesn’t have to be the trend. We can change that!  And if you already have yourself figured out, way to go. You are living your best life and enjoying it. Even through tough times you hold onto the things that can get you through. I’m not talking about negative coping habits – hey we all have them. Even if we think we are above some bad habit, give it time friend, you may find yourself in a stressful situation and just try that thing you have prided yourself on not doing. So if you see someone else doing that, don’t look down on them. Be encouraging to them. I don’t think anyone would ever turn down a genuine compliment or encouragement. Why you ask? Well they are just an unexpected golden nugget. And no one turns down golden nuggets. 😉

Oh man, I digress.  Like this guy in the woods… 

Back to knowing ourselves and how we tick. Do you have a list of things either written down (go you!) or somewhere in your head (that’s me) of things that bring you joy. Is there a pattern or are they totally random?  Either is fine. These things can fall under the category of affirmations, activities or interests, social gatherings or avenues on the individual track.  Try thinking back to the last thing that you really enjoyed or lifted you up when you were having a bad day.  If you are having a hard time, think back to your last vacation and what you enjoyed most on that trip.  Then keep going.  Think about if you had free time and no chores or work to do, how would you spend your time?  It’s important to think about the things that can help you feel more you.  So many times we just go about our day doing what has to be done and we get dragged down by the drudgery of it.  Let’s dream even if it’s a tiny dream.  Tiny is a good place to start.  

Now let’s get to it.  Start jotting them down.  When you are waiting for your coffee to finish brewing or waiting on your spouse to get in the car to go somewhere or needing to settle your brain down to go to bed, take a piece of paper or the notes app in your phone and jot down things that you enjoy or as I like to call it, your Keep Me Sane List.  Because let’s be honest, sometimes we just need to go to our happy places or we are going to be a wreck and no good to anyone around us.  Our people are counting on us for support.  Either to work on a project, to help with dinner, to make money for the family or just be there for a friend when they are having a rough day.  So we gotta be our best selves and the only way to be that is go to our sanity list and pick something out that sparks joy.  It’s along the same lines as Marie Kondo’s decluttering method.  Anyone out there read/listen to the book or watched the Netflix series???  In my Kentucky twang, “If it don’t spark joy, throw it out!”.  Well in life we can’t throw out things we don’t enjoy doing, but we can reap benefits from doing things that give back to us and fuel our hearts and minds.  I would love to be done taking out the trash or cleaning toilets because that doesn’t bring me joy, but those things need to be done and on the flip side I get joy from NOT smelling the dirty ole trash can and seeing a beautiful white toilet bowl!

Get out of this mindset of “I don’t have time to do things I enjoy, I need to be more productive.”  Wait just a second here… there is a chance that right now in your season of life that you are just holding on and doing what needs to be done and that’s all you can handle mentally.  If this is you, just keep trucking my friend!  You just do what needs to be done and then get to bed to do it all over again tomorrow.  But if you are not in that boat and you can see the importance of doing something for you that will pay dividends in the rest of your of life, I say jump on board and just take whatever time you think is right for you and do something. 

For those of you that need a jumping board to start from, scroll down to the bottom and you will see my list.  Now, if you want to judge, go right ahead, but I warn you, your list might sound silly written down too and THAT’S OKAY.  It’s okay to have silly things on the list because guess what, we can’t be serious 100% of the time.  That’s a) no fun and b) a depressing way to live.  So add some silly to your life and you will see your life improve a little at a time.  And get this, you might think twice about yelling at someone for something stupid or you might give people more grace for not doing something completely right.  How awesome is that?  Coming from a more whole person, we can have more meaningful interactions that lift everyone up higher. 

Dang, I better get off my soap box, I’m preaching too much.

Alright, so do you feel inspired to make that list yet?  Have somethings floating in your head?  (I mean ideas, not the voices in your head!  Stay focused 😀 )

Okay, I challenge you to start that list.  Start with the first thing that pops into your head.  Just jot it down, even if you take it off later, just start that list.  Okay I’ll do it too…

(5 minutes later)

Here is a list of my things that keep me sane:

  • Dancing to my favorite music like no one is watching
  • Doing a yoga video online or stretching
  • Doing a bible study (self-led, from a study guide or app like “First 5”)
  • Taking a walk outside
  • Working on my granny square afghan that’d I’ve been working on for years
    • Learning how to spell afghan (ha – who knew there was a “g” in that word???)
  • Turning up music in my car and singing at the top of my lungs
  • Watching Harry Potter movies
  • Looking up corny jokes and using them on people
  • Calling up family and friends just to say hi
  • Having family and friends over for dinner
  • Getting a nice workout in – sweating out stress
  • Saying affirmations that lift me up
  • Trying a new recipe on my family

Okay, so those are the ones I came up with so far.  What about you?  What are you waiting for? 

Go for it friend and start doing things that keep you sane!  All of your friends and family with thank you.