As humans it is very easy for us to fall into a routine. So many of us were forced to change our routines with the onset of COVID-19. Maybe you were a gym goer and you had to start training at home. Maybe you weren’t exercising at all but all of the time that you spent in your home started to get to you, so you began going outside and exercising. Maybe your favorite sporting activity was postponed indefinitely so you had to find a new activity of interest.
Change can be hard but it’s the very best thing for our bodies mentally and physically. Our bodies are amazing masters of adaptation and efficiency. When we are engaging in any sort of routine, our bodies will become more efficient and more adaptable, therefore minimizing change and energy expenditure.
What does this mean? You’ll reach a plateau. And most likely, you may even get bored and start to lose motivation, eventually getting burnt out.
When Covid hit I was going to the gym every day. I was taking the same classes on the same scheduled days of the week, and I was doing the traditional rotation of weightlifting. With the closure of the gym I was forced to change my routine. Since then I have increased my strength, fitness and lean muscle mass AND decreased my body fat percentage. All unintentionally! It was a sweet surprise!
I was forced to try new things and cross train in ways I had not thought of before.
I found new ways to train and new activities to keep me moving. I also found new ways of taking the activities I loved most and progressively increasing the challenge.
How did I do this? I thought about the things that impressed me. And thought about the people that help motivate me. What do they do that inspires me? What can they do, but I struggle with? And most importantly, I asked myself why. Why does what that person inspire me? Why do I want to be able to do those things? Or why do I want to change the look of my body? What will that do for me (for me, not anyone else)? And lastly, how can I get to the point where I can do those things more easily? When you ask yourself these questions you will get to the root of your why. That is what will motivate you. Your why. That is what will help you find your path to your goals. Sometimes its really hard to find your true “why” and thats where a coach comes in. You have to let go of everything except YOU. Especially others perceptions and opinions and your habits and routines.
So, I started getting creative. I did some research. I started thinking outside of the box. I won’t say I developed a new routine because nothing I do is in routine now. But I will say that I am enjoying myself in a whole new way. Ive changed and become stronger both mentally and physically.
One of my goals is to participate in longer hikes. I don’t like sleeping outside so that meant I needed to get faster so I could cover more ground during daylight hours and not be forced to camp outside. Why did I want to participate in longer hikes? To get more traversing in. To see more areas that are untouched by humans. The other is to climb the NH 48 4Ks. And I have to be able to climb quick. Why? I am a mom and I wont leave my kids all day to hike. So I have to do as many as I can, early and fast. Get to the mountain, run up and down, and be home before they get out of bed or just a couple hours after, or for longer hikes, before they get home from school. Im a mom first. To do that, I had to increase my cardio fitness and cardio endurance. But, I also thoroughly enjoy weightlifting. I want to be athletically strong. I don’t want to be skin and bones. I can have as many goals as I want. And I have many.
When you only do cardio you can potentially lose muscle mass. When you only lift you can potentially lose some of your athletic ability, coordination, agility, speed and endurance. So I train In a heart rate zone (using HIIT) that improves cardio fitness AND endurance at the same time I’m maxing out my lifting. Yes, it’s possible. My lean muscle mass has increased. My cardiovascular fitness and endurance has increased. And my body fat percentage is lower than its ever been (and its staying there) on my body compositions. And now when I hike, I try to increase speed and agility each time. Why? So I can keep getting closer to my goal of covering more ground, climbing higher mountains and getting it all done during daylight hours without camping overnight outside!! That may be a silly goal to some but to me, its important. When you decide what your goals are, you create a program to help you achieve those goals. Its that simple. My speed is a competition against myself. Against my last hike. Competition drives me. And I compete the hardest against myself. But what drives me isnt the same motivation that will drive you.
I am my biggest critic. Probably like most of you are on yourselves. What impresses me is not the weightlifter that can keep adding more weight. What impresses me is the person who is mainly a weightlifter but has the drive and the motivation to go out and run as fast as he or she can for as long as he or she can. Why? Because it’s out of routine so that makes it difficult. It goes against the bodies adaptation so it creates more of a challenge. it’s also impressive to see a marathon runner start lifting. Why? For the same reason. Its hard. It’s against that runners body’s adaption. It takes a strong mind and lots of determination to step outside of your comfort zone and do something hard. Something your body isnt conditioned to do. But by mixing it up you are going keep your body from becoming so efficient that progress comes to a halt.
So now, that’s how I train. When something starts to get easier I find some thing else that’s more of a challenge. I think about how my body has adapted and then find a way to confuse my body. To give it something it doesn’t expect. This has been the best thing for my physical fitness and strength and for my mental health. I’m not bored anymore. I don’t exercise just to exercise. Now is a daily challenge that install my mind as well as my physical strength and endurance. I’m challenging my mind to find new ways for my body to move. I’m challenging my mind to find new ways to challenge my body performance. I’m challenging my mind to avoid falling into a routine. Im challenging my mind to push through and tackle something difficult when its easier to do something I am good at or conditioned for. Working with a personal trainer can help keep your routine varied.
The most important piece to remember is that we all have different goals. So, I’ll do me and you’ll do you. The specifics of how I train works for me but may not for you. And vice versa. But I can assure you, variety is important, regardless of how you train. I will support you and cheer you on without judgement and you can cheer on and support those around you without judgement. We can all strive to be our best and to help others be their best too. We dont have to compete against each other because we aren’t all working for the same result. So who cares if youre faster than me? Or if I lift more than you? It doesnt matter if you workout more than me or less than me. It doesnt matter if your friends pants are 3 sizes smaller than yours. Im not trying to keep up with you or anyone else. And you dont need to keep up with me or anyone else. Why? We aren’t on the same path! We aren’t working towards the same goals! We aren’t even starting from the same place! Thats the beauty of it!
So when you feel like you have to compare yourself to someone else, remind yourself of that. How can you even compare yourself to someone on a different path? You cant! So let it go! The circumstances are not the same, the goals are not the same and the starting point was never the same. You do you, and I’ll do me. Love yourself and YOUR journey. It’s different than mine. It’s different than your neighbors.
In fact, I can almost guarantee that if you watch anybody around you with true acceptance of their individualism and not as your competition you will be able to find at least one thing you can gain from them, to help you on your path. if we all stopped judging or comparing and instead shared our ideas with each other imagine how much we could all gain? It’s not a competition between each other, or against humans as a whole, but rather a huge support system that we can tap into for sharing ideas, accountability, bettering ourselves and even creating new friendships. it’s about helping each other be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Remember, its not just about how you look on the outside but how you FEEL on the inside. Do you feel GOOD about yourself? Do you feel good about the progress you have made so far even if you aren’t yet where you want to be? Or do you feel the need to use filters, perfect lighting and flattering poses simply to take photos so you feel accepted? I can promise you that until you feel good inside you will never be happy with how you look on the outside. Even with lighting, filters and “likes” on social media. So stop comparing yourself to everyone else and stop worry about what others think of you and start having fun with this.
Snap out of your routine. Your routine of how you train. Want to see change? Change your training routine. Snap out the routine of how you think about yourself. Want to look better outside? Start working on feeling better inside. Appreciate your progress so far. Change how you talk to yourself. How you see yourself.
So can you start tomorrow? I bet you can. Wait, I know you can. Get out of that routine that makes you feel stuck. Start accepting yourself where you are and doing the same for those around you. Can you change your routines and challenge yourself mentally, physically, or both? Look at others at friends and teachers instead of competition. Its life changing, it really is. And isnt that what your contemplating? What you want? Change. Then take the first step. The only thing holding you back is excuses. Get rid of those. And then you’ll see there really are no limits…. there were only ever excuses.