Parenthood is a tough gig. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, work-at-home parent, or working out-of-home parent, you have little people who are relying on you all the time. Here are some tips for creating a consistent workout routine — even when you don’t feel like it. Also, here is a little encouragement for anyone who struggles with comparison.
When It Gets Hard
When I was in the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to learn to play piano so I could be in the talent show. After those first few months and successfully playing in my school talent show, the glamour and newness of piano wore off. I no longer wanted to practice. It was hard, and I didn’t understand everything I was doing, nor did I know what I was working towards. Once the excitement of starting something new wears off, you’re left with discipline, and that doesn’t come naturally to us all.
Sometimes, we rely on our emotions and feelings to guide us, and while they are important, they can’t be the sole decision maker in our lives.
Thankfully, I stuck with it. I began spending more and more time practicing piano and that hard work paid off. Music became a key space for me through middle and high school where I could channel all of my big emotions into something healthy and safe. And eventually it was what I went to college for.
Had I stopped in my discomfort and decided to give up piano just because I had accomplished my initial goal, I wouldn’t have had this essential piece of my life today.
This is true with fitness as well.
Our choices can’t rely only on our feelings. Our emotions help to tell us something is up, but they can’t be our compass. Sometimes we have to get a little perspective on what’s happening inside of us to move forward.
Sometimes we lose our motivation
There was a point in my musical journey where I lost a bit of my intrinsic joy at the piano. Going to college for music meant that I had to spend countless hours in the practice room, and that the music I was working so hard to learn and create would be inspected under a microscope. It was no longer just for my own personal joy, or the benefit of others. The focus was on grades and the professors ideals. This made it hard for me to want to spend my days learning new music. I struggled to enjoy it.
What kept me going, however, was the light at the end of the tunnel — a degree, a job, and the greater enjoyment of music due to a larger knowledge base. When playing piano felt like a chore, I reminded myself of those end goals and found the motivation to push forward.
When you’re lacking motivation or discipline to workout, it really helps to get some perspective on why you are doing it and where you are heading. Maybe you don’t enjoy working out naturally, that’s okay! Sometimes the joy takes a while, or maybe the enjoyment won’t be in the day-to-day discipline, but rather the end result of the health benefits.
Ask yourself questions like these: Why is working out important to me? How will my life and my families lives benefit from me exercising? Are there any physical feats I want to accomplish? What will it take to get me to those places?
If you struggle with obesity, or have a family history of disease, or even have a mental illness like anxiety or depression, have you looked into the benefits of exercise? To me, a bikini isn’t worth working out daily for, but being able to chase my kids around and beat post-partum depression IS worth it.
Accountability is not something I love having because it creates pressure. But that’s sort of the point, right? We need a tiny bit of healthy stress to make us do it sometimes. When your emotions start to run you in the wrong direction, accountability steps in and says “Hey, come back. Let’s do it together.” So, whether you have a friend who you work out with, you join a gym, or you use an app that reminds you to workout, you need it. Seriously, don’t skip the accountability. If you want, come join my online accountability group.
Start With Small Steps
Successful people start with small steps right away that lead them towards their goal, and they succeed. This builds trust in themselves and encourages them to keep going! If your first goal is to lose 30 pounds, you’re probably going to be discouraged all the way there. Each pound won’t be enough because they aren’t the goal. And if you don’t make it to 30 pounds quick enough, you likely will give up and your trust with yourself will be broken, which will make starting healthy habits even harder the next time you try.
Set a small goal you can attain quickly, and then set another. You goal for Monday is to workout, eat one vegetable, and drink 8 glasses of water. Can you do that? Is that actually realistic? Now do it. Check it off and note how it went. Then do it again, and set a new goal.
I am a long-term visionary. I love big dreams, but I get lost along the way. Small goals and steps help me reach my big dreams.
Once upon a time, I took a few personal training sessions and the plan she created for me included a mandatory rest day as well as one “free” meal that wasn’t part of my diet plan. She told me I HAD to take that rest day, and had to have that special meal. I thought that was so weird, but you know what? It was so good for me. Having that to look forward to and to spring off of allowed me to push through the hard times. Rest is an incredibly important practice and in fitness it allows your muscle to rebuild. You want a toned body right? Then rest.
Fear of Failure
You’re going to fail. Failure doesn’t have to be this scary monster we are running from. It’s actually part of the process and it’s an element of growth. Know that discomfort is coming, acknowledge the feeling, and move through it.
One day, you’re going to start running up that hill, and your legs are going to feel so heavy. You’re not going to be able to run as fast as you want. Your lungs aren’t going to hold up. You’ll be on your 20th push-up and your arms will turn into jello and you will collapse. That is okay. Actually, in many ways this is good! This is teaching you your mental and physical limits. This is your body communicating that change is happening. Notice what’s happening and assess if something needs to change, or if you will just come back and attempt it tomorrow. Let it move you towards strength. When one day you can’t do something, it means another day you will be able to. That is how personal and world records happen.
Limits can be a marker for today, but they don’t have to be the end of tomorrow. A 20-minute mile can become a new goal to beat. Fear or motivation — which will you choose?