No matter what your dream is, it always seems overwhelming when you look straight up to the top of that big mountain you need to climb. Many often fear the journey, convince themselves they’re not capable of doing this, and end up quitting before they even get started.Yes, there’s a LOT to take in. But you simply need to break it down and start SOMEWHERE.
Progress isn't linear.
The saying applies to fitness just as much as it applies to school. It applies to your career, your work place, your relationships, and quite literally anything that you’re trying to progress in.
The phrase resonates with me in a few different aspects, but recently it’s applied to my fitness regimen. Some of you may know, others may not, but for the majority of 2016 I took a break from my workout routine. At first, I made the decision to slow down on my workouts because I was exceptionally busy at the start of 2016. I went to school full time and was working on finishing my last semester of college. I worked at two different gyms as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, as well as working with clients online, all which equated to about 50+ hours of work per week. My personal health and workouts declined because of it.
As the first few weeks of 2016 went on, I quickly became exhausted, both physically and mentally. When I found free time, which was scarce, the last place I wanted to be was the gym. When I would workout, my workouts were struggling. I had no passion for the gym, I had no energy to workout, and ultimately it felt like I was defeated. Was fitness no longer going to be part of my life? What if I can never regain the motivation I once had to workout?
As the weeks rolled by, I decided to take a break from the gym. Part of the reason was due to mentally struggling with depression and anxiety. Another reason was due to injuries. When you lack sleep (which I certainly was at the time) and you’re stressed, you put yourself at a very high risk for getting injured. Alas, it caught up with me. My scoliosis was acting up and causing severe back pain and I ended up tearing my quad when showing a client how to squat. I was out of the gym and I was terrified.
In May, I graduated from college with a B.S. in Psychology and I moved to Colorado, a dream of mine that I had since I was 8 years old. Life was looking up! The struggle of the last 6 months was finally coming to an end, right?!
In Colorado, there were very few gyms available, and the ones that were, were completely out of my price range. I started working out in my garage with little equipment and made the best of it, however I was only lifting once or twice a week, when I ideally wanted to lift 5-6 days a week. This was a mental struggle for me because I felt lost and confused and didn’t really know where I fit into the “fitness world”.
I began doing activities outside and enjoying the scenery that was around me. I climbed mountains, went on hikes almost daily, dipped my toe into mountain biking and snow shoeing! I found joy in areas of fitness I never thought I would be fortunate enough to do. I focused on getting outside everyday, and used my lifting to supplement my hikes, rather than hikes to supplement my lifts. For the first time in my life, I was actually enjoying cardio (coming from someone who despises it).
By being outdoors, I found my passion for fitness again. I didn’t dread lifting in a garage gym, but rather looked forward to it. I didn’t dread taking my dog on a walk, but was excited about it because I could see the leaves changing colors and the feel of cool wind on my skin. I began approaching fitness with a positive mindset, something that wasn’t forced upon me, but something that I freely chose to do because it brought me joy.
Unfortunately, the struggle was not over. My boyfriend at the time and I broke up, which meant I moved back home to Saint Louis. Again, I was lost, confused and didn’t know how to get back into a fitness routine. There aren’t mountains to climb in the Midwest and the closest place to go on a hike is a 30 minutes drive (as opposed to being able to walk into my backyard and start a hike). I started up a gym membership again and I started lifting.
This was HARD. My body wasn’t as “fit” as it was this time last year. My muscle mass significantly decreased and my strength was simply not there. It was a real mental struggle trying to be kind to myself when I felt like I had failed. I wanted to add 100 pounds to my dead lift and 50 to my squat by the end of 2016, and here I was struggling to lift my warm up weight from the end of 2015. I felt like I had failed because I did not commit myself to fitness how I did in the past.
But progress isn’t linear. Did I regress in terms of strength? Absolutely. Did I lose a lot of the muscle I worked so hard for? Yes. Did I keep moving forward? Yes, I did. Though my progress in the gym had declined, I gained a ton of knowledge from my year “off”. My muscular endurance was better than it had ever been. My cardiovascular endurance, though still lacking compared to most, was the best it had ever been for me personally. I saw some of the most amazing views because my legs carried me up a mountain. I was able to get creative with workouts that required minimal equipment, making me a better coach to those who workout only at home.
Now, I’ve been back on a gym routine for almost three months! My mindset is completely different than it was this time last year. I am energized for my workouts. I look forward to them with excitement and approach them with focus and passion. Something that I’m not sure would have happened had I not stepped back and taken time off.
Progress isn’t linear. You will fall down a million times. You will inevitably fail. You are human! But failure does not define you. Progress is not linear, but it does require that you keep moving forward. Take it one step at a time, keep going.
Odds are if you’re reading this you’ve committed to a new fitness routine in 2017 – way to go! January is a great time to make a fresh start, no matter where you are in your fitness journey. Many people decide to do a different workout program, eat cleaner, follow a better nutrition plan or perhaps you’re giving this healthy living a try for the first time. No matter how long you’ve been working out we all find ourselves on some days having to muster up the motivation to get out of bed, off the couch, out of our warm cozy homes and get into the gym. I’ve been there before and I’ve been working out for what seems my entire life, but I’ve committed to strength training as my main form of fitness for the last six years. I too still have days and weeks where I just lose motivation and have to dig down deep to force myself to go train. I wanted to share a few of my tips for how to stay motivated after the new year.
Did you know that it takes 21 days to make a habit so right about now if you’ve been working out since January 1st you should be well on your way. By the third week into a new routine you should be feeling great and on a roll – but sometimes we slip up and that’s okay because that means you’re human! My first piece of advice to stay motivation is not to set goals that are not achievable. Don’t start working out and say you will do it seven days a week if you know you can’t commit to that every single week. We all need at least two rest days to recover and give our muscles a chance to rebuild, repair and recover. If you tell yourself you will work out seven days a week and miss a day or two, mentally you will think you failed. It would be better to say “I commit to at least getting in a workout four days a week” and if you make it in for six well then that’s fantastic! It’s better to set realistic goals so that you can stick to them and feel accomplished at the end of each week.
Some people like to work out solo and some people need a buddy to keep them accountable. Whatever works for you is what you should stick with and do. Me personally I like to work out alone and I enjoy putting on my headphones, listening to a great playlist of music and then zoning out. That’s what works best for me, therefore I wouldn’t plan to go workout with a friend because I know I wouldn’t get the best workout and I will likely not stick to my workout routine. If you need a friend to workout with to stay motivated, make sure that friend is committed and can assure you they will do the same amount of days each week. If your friend starts to bail on you it will start to make you skip days and lose motivation. Find what works best for you to stay committed.
This might seem silly, but I can’t tell you how much this has helped me over the years to stay motivated to get off my butt in the early morning and go to the gym; lay out your workout clothes the night before. Remember when your mom used to do this for you the night before the first day of school? That’s what I do and I’m in my 30s, lol. I like to make this part of my night time routine: take a shower, wash my face, lay out my gym clothes. Check, check, check. By putting my entire workout attire out on a dresser I not only have one less thing to worry about in the morning (have you ever tried to find a sports bra in the dark while your boyfriend or husband is sleeping, it’s not easy), but it also is a visually reminder before you go to bed that when you wake up you’re going to go work out, kick butt and take names. Plus if you’re a girly girl like me you like to match your gym clothes and it’s fun putting it all together from your sneakers to tights to baseball hat.
Even if you never post them or show them to anyone, take photos of yourself at the beginning of each week. Sometimes we don’t want to take images when we don’t feel our best, but you’ll be thankful you did later so you can look back at all the small strides you are making each week. I used to take images that I never shared and put them in a “fitness” folder on my iPhone and years later I’m so proud of how far I came. When you look in the mirror day in and day out at yourself you never see the true progress. It’s not until you look back months later and how your body has changed that you will say “damn, I’m proud of me!” That is one way I have always stayed motivated – knowing that every single workout was getting me closer to my goal. There’s a great saying I heard long ago, don’t know the author, but it went something like this, “You’ll never see the big picture if you’re still a part of the painting.” Write that down somewhere, it’s a goodie! Sometimes we need to step back and take a good look at ourselves and not nit pick everything.
My last piece of advice to stay motivated is join a gym where you feel comfortable. Work out where you never feel out of place, where you feel good when you walk in and the people there are motivating and encouraging. I have been a member of many gyms and some I just hated working out in; I didn’t feel like the people were as nice or it was too over crowded or people just were too busy watching everyone and making comments or interrupting. The gym I go to now has a lot of the same “crew” every morning and I feel like they are family. The ladies are so encouraging to one another and it’s a very no frills kind of place. I never felt like I didn’t belong and I always felt good working out in there. Some gyms have different crowds and I really find that when you feel good in your gym it keeps you motivated and excited to get back there every day. It’s nice when you walk in and know all the “regulars” and give a wave and smile.
Overall it isn’t easy sticking to a workout program. It takes time, dedication, sacrifice but in the end it’s helping you live a better, healthier more fulfilling life. Surround yourself with friends who will be there to support you, and even if your friends in real life don’t find people like the Crush Fit community who do. There’s no better motivation than seeing others on their journey too and feeling like your goals are reachable.
Now get out there and go lift things.
Your fitness journey was off to a great start! You were making gains, losing weight, seeing changes in your body composition…whatever your goal was, you were getting there, one day at a time.
But then, you hit a rut.
The scale stalled, your body started aching, and your motivation practically ran out the door.
Worst of all? It feels like nothing you’re doing makes a difference.
Frustrating? Yes. Normal? Completely.
Plateaus. They happen to most everyone. Our bodies get stuck. Same workouts. Same diets. Same weekly check ins. Same everything.
As humans, we are adaptable by nature. And just like your body adapts to the seasons, it can adapt to your regime as well. Unfortunately, sometimes that means your progress can be temporarily stalled as a result.
But, not to worry! There are plenty of ways to push past a plateau, and today, I’m going to walk you through a few of them!
- Change up your routine! This is key. If you do the same exercise over and over again, your body is going to become accustomed to it, which may be why you’re not seeing those great changes in your physique you were seeing when you first started working out. So, try a spin class, go to yoga, lift some weights. Anything that will shock your body and give you that push forward you need!
- Switch up your style! If you love lifting weights, that doesn’t mean you have to completely change what you’re doing! If you always lift heavy with low reps, maybe try out a high volume workout with lighter weights and more reps. If you’re a natural born runner, try switching out those long distance runs with sprints!
- Add something to your workout! Go for a walk after your yoga class, add in a 10-minute run, throw in some plyo during your lift. Sometimes getting those few extra minutes of sweat time in is enough for your body to break free from that plateau!
- Make sure you’re eating enough! Even if your goal is weight loss, you still need to be fueling your body with the nutrients it needs! Not having enough food will only do your body harm, and just like your body can adapt to your workout routine, your metabolism can adjust to cope with a low intake. So, eat your protein and your veggies, and throw in some sweets for good measure! To see results you have to be taking care of yourself!
- Know change will come! Plateaus can be frustrating, but it’s important to keep in mind that we are our own worst critics. A fitness journey doesn’t follow a linear path. There will be bumps along the way, but it’s moving forward and staying motivated that will make the difference. You will get past this!
Many factors go into finding the right yoga class. You need to find one that meets your needs, makes you feel good, and keeps you coming back for more. Everyone is looking for something slightly different in a yoga class, so I would suggest exploring around, and don't write yoga off because of one bad experience. A studio that makes you feel comfortable is a mix of finding the right ambiance, an approachable teacher, and a yoga style that meets your given needs!
Try out as many different studios as possible
This is one of my favorite things to do when moving to a new city, and it's usually completely free your first class! This is a great way to get a feel for the types of classes that are offered in your city, and also allows a taste of different types of yoga. Trying out different classes allows you to get a feel for studios, classes, and teachers that make you feel comfortable.
Consider what you want to get out of class
Are you in it to zen out? Maybe try Hatha or Iyengar yoga which allows you to move slower. Are you in it for self-discovery or self-discipline? Then, maybe you should sweat it out in a Bikram class. Get a better feel for some of the different types of yoga I have outlined below. Hopefully, it will help you on your yoga journey!
Figure out which style of yoga you may be interested in:
Hatha yoga is much slower, and allows you to build heat by slowing down the poses and moving into each posture with correct anatomical alignment. This is perfect for someone who doesn't enjoy the continuous movement of vinyasa style classes, or a perfect class to take on a day where you need some stillness in your life.
Bikram is practiced in an extremely hot room (105 degrees) for 90 minutes. It is an incredibly intense, strange, yet mentally and physically rewarding style of yoga. This was the first yoga class I ever took, and I was immediately hooked. It's not for everyone, but I would strongly suggest trying a class. Expect no music, bright lights, tons of sweat, and a whole body high post-savasana.
This is a word you will hear often, and it basically means linking breath with movement. Any class where you move energetically from one pose to the other using your breath is a form of vinyasa. Vinyasa is the most prevalent form in the western world, and is usually offered at your local gym, and can be heated, cooled, or taken at room temperature.
Ashtanga is a very physically demanding style of yoga that may also be referred to as power yoga. It comprises a precise series of poses brought together through breath in a specific sequential order. Ashtanga is a great blend of powerful, grounding poses that you hold for about 5 breaths each, paired with a vinyasa in-between.
Iyengar yoga uses many props such as belts, blocks, blankets, and bolsters to position yourself into a specific and precise anatomical position. It is a type of hatha yoga that allows you to hold poses for longer periods of time focusing on specific alignments. This is a great class for those who feel over-worked, and need to put their muscles and body through a relaxing re-set.
There are so many different types of yoga now, form stand-up paddle board yoga to Buti yoga, an African dance-like yoga style to Acro or Partner yoga. There truly are so many different options which make the practice approachable to everybody! Have fun with it, explore what makes you feel the best, and keep innovating and trying new styles of yoga!