Consistency. I think this is one of the hardest things about exercise and probably the thing I hear clients talk about most often as a struggle. How to stay consistent. When you take a few weeks or months or even years off, then try to come back to it, it’s discouraging and daunting. It’s overwhelming so it tends to be easier not to start back at all. To give up.
The better option is not to stop in the first place.
Life happens. I get that so hard. Like really. My summer was a bit of a disaster on the exercise front. I struggled with motivation and consistency. I just didn’t want to do it. I felt depleted of energy and overwhelmed with life. But, I tried to just do something. My motto became something is better than nothing. No races(but oh, my husband was Mr. Ironman, so that made me feel even worse, if I’m being honest) and no training plans. Just me and a tired and run down body that wanted nothing to do with running. You guys, I get it. So short workouts, swimming with my kids and walking became good enough for me. I was moving and that in and of itself felt like an accomplishment. This was slightly new territory for me.
I struggled with the way that made me feel as someone who has basically worked off of a training plan for the past several years straight. I had nothing to train for. I had no desire to run. And I LOVE to run. I had to do some soul searching in a way to figure out how much of my identity I had placed on my ability to run and race. Turns out, too much. I had to dig deep and figure out why it was that I did anything at all. Why do any of this?
And this is what I came up with.
Because we have one body, and one life. No do over’s. This is it. I want to steward this body to the best of my ability. Does that mean I’m always crushing it? Heck. No. It doesn’t mean it always looks or feels super stellar, but taking care of yourself is necessary for your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health. And so it’s something we need to figure out how to do consistently.
I came up with several ways to keep this thing a constant in your/my life. Something you can count on as long as you are physically able. Here are some of my tips and things I learned in one of my harder seasons…..
Find Something you LOVE
This may seem cliché. But it’s one of the first things I tell my clients. Find something you love that keeps you moving and it’ll stick for life. Does that mean it will always feel easy? No. Does that mean it will always be easy? No. It doesn’t necessarily mean you wake up every day at 5AM dying to do some dead lifts or run that mile or go to that yoga class. BUT, if you decide it’s something you legit enjoy doing, it’ll make it easier to stick to, even in the hard seasons. It could be ANYTHING: gardening, skiing, walking your dog, boot camp, working with a trainer, training for a race, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, yoga, zumba, body pump, spin class, running, triathlon, workout DVD’s in the comfort of your own living room. ANYTHING. These are just the ones that popped into my head. There are so many things you can do and find enjoyment in. You don’t have to be a stellar athlete, I’m sure as heck not. You don’t have to be fast or inherently talented, just find something you like to do, and go do it.
Set a schedule
I am NOT, I repeat, NOT a morning person. At all. I like my coffee and a slow easy pace for a good 2 or 3 hours before the day starts, which is in no way practical with 3 kids in school. Or for life at all. So, I’ve had to change my ways a bit. A lot. I wake up early to workout. Not every day. Some days my alarm goes off at 5am and I roll back over and decide to get it in later in the day if I known I have a few windows, and usually it gets done, but not always. But, when I know it needs to be done first thing to happen at all, I get up. I lay out my clothes the night before and sometimes I even sleep in the shirt I’m going to run or workout in. Just for kicks and because that’s a sexy look to take to bed. Oh wait.
But for real, being consistent probably means something will be uncomfortable. It will take you out of your comfort zone. It will test you and challenge you in a million different ways. But that’s what will give you satisfaction. Knowing that you are making good choices for this one body you have. Do it after a long hard day at work or on your lunch break. If it means getting up early, do it. Train your body and your mind to rise before the sun. Set out a special something you like to eat for breakfast or prepare that coffee to entice you out from under the covers. You can do it!!!! You don’t have to be a morning person or a fitnessy person. You can be you, and you can do hard things.
Give yourself grace when life gets tricky
There have been seasons, like this past Summer, when life just got hard. Busy. Fast. Distracting. And that’s ok. You don’t have to go full speed through life with no rest or reprieve. You can choose to slow it down and focus on other things and still care for yourself. Don’t believe the lie that everything else is more important than you, because without a healthy you, you can’t care for the everything else in your life. My season will look different from yours, most likely. I may be struggling to run a mile when you are running an Ultra. Or vise versa, although I see no reality in which I run an ultra, but I guess life can surprise us. Ignore social media if it’s discouraging you. If you are struggling to get moving, find people who will encourage you in your journey and forget the rest.
Don’t worry about the girl “crushing” her pull ups with the ripped abs and totally clean breakfast smoothie. Be happy for her. Go her. Her world and circumstances and responsibilities are not yours. So be happy for her, rejoice with her, then let her go. Focus on what you have to work with in your season of now. And be ok where you are. Maybe you are caring for a loved one or dealing with a hard marriage. Maybe that leaves very little to no margin for a trip to the gym. May I just encourage you with the word grace? Grace friend. Go for a walk or choose a healthy meal or extra water. Listen to some soothing music. Read a book. Take a nap for crying out loud. If that is what your body and/or mind needs in that moment or season, then do it. Do the seemingly small things that actually make a big difference in your health.
Find a friend
This is my hubby. My favorite person ever. And he encourages me in this crazy fitness thing. When I feel like a loser, he reminds me I’m not. He reminds me that these things we do and love are just simply hobbies, they are not who we are. They aren’t our identity. They are fun and keep us healthy. So, find a friend or a spouse who can help you maintain some perspective. Some wisdom and clarity on the place of your “thing.” Where does it fit in your life? How much time do you need to devote to it? Is it wise for this season you are in? Encourage and support and cheer for one another. Challenge each other to be uncomfortable. To do things that scare the crap out of you, and do it together, because life is short y’all.
So that may not be a very Pinterest worthy list or make the Runner’s World top 10. But that’s my reality, and just maybe it’s yours too. Real life and real messy houses and real struggles to make this fitness thing stick. It’s not always fun or easy. But I promise you, if you can be consistent and let it grow with you through your seasons of life, you will feel so much better. You will laugh a little more and enjoy the body you’ve been given for this life you have. And that’s somethin.