Confession time: trainers don’t always want to train. While I most of the time I legitimately love a good workout, sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Maybe I haven’t slept well or eaten enough or maybe I’m just feeling lazy, or the opposite – like I have a million other things I should do.
I had a few workouts like that last week … (sidebar: I’ve set a couple of goal events for this spring and summer and so while the days are still short the lakes frozen, the triathlon training plan has officially launched). The last thing I wanted to do was get in the pool. I hate swimming. (Weird, I know, given that I am the mother of 2 competitive swimmers and spend literally hundreds of hours a year on the pool deck.) I’m not especially good at it (read: totally inefficient) and it is by far my least favourite of the triathlon disciplines. And when it’s as cold as it has been this winter it’s pretty much a guarantee that my hair is going to freeze when I’m done and I’ll probably be shivering for an entire 24 hours.
Let me share a little cold hard truth:
Feeling has nothing to do with it.
I don’t feel like it is not a good excuse.
So I swam. Why? Because I committed to do it. Committed to who? To me.
In order to get and stay committed I need a goal. Something on the calendar that I’m working towards. Seriously. Like physically written on an old-fashioned paper calendar. For me this works better than e-planning, because unlike an app that I can swipe up and ignore, a thing on the wall in the mudroom that I stare at every day is powerful.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m not suggesting that you should all rush to sign up for a try-a-tri (but if you want to, I think that’s awesome!? Let’s talk training plans J) Remember what we talked about last time in the blog? You do you. All the time. With the days getting longer (and marginally warmer), maybe your goal is to complete an organized event of some sort (cue shameless plug for Infinite’s Obstacle Training starting in April … you know you want to!). But maybe it’s to complete 3 workouts this week. Maybe it’s to make it to curb the afternoon sugar craving with a healthier, more nutrient-dense alternative. Whatever your goal for this week is, write it down, and stick it somewhere you can see it. I’m a bit of a data-dork, so I keep a training journal, but maybe all you need is a sticker on the wall for every step you take on the way to the goal. Do not underestimate the power of a sticker: what’s good for a five-year old is good for you too. Stickers (or whatever your tracking method of choice) show you that you can do it, you are doing it, and that you have done it. So the next time Doubt come knocking, you can shut the front door. Hard and fast.
A page out of the nerdy training journal.
Let’s talk about the rules of completion.
1. Don’t let the planned task overwhelm you. I’m wagering a guess that you’re familiar with SMART goals. R is for realistic. If you’ve never run a step in your life, setting a goal to run the Boston Marathon is not the place to start. But completing a 5km might be. If you work 12-hour days and struggle to get to the gym twice a week, don’t commit to 6 workouts/week right now. Try for three, but get them done. Because you promised yourself you would.
2. The hardest part is getting to the start. I cannot tell you the number of times I have almost talked myself out of a workout. The temptation is real and I have given in. But I haven’t ever felt great about it. I can absolutely guarantee that I have never ever EVER regretted making the effort to at least start. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes to convince myself and others I’m grumpy for the entire sweatfest, but I have always, 100% of the time been glad I did up those shoes (or, sigh, yes … even jumped in the pool). Don’t let excuses you tell yourself get in the way of accomplishing what you promised yourself you’d do.
3. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Consistency beats out perfection. Every. Single. Time. Again experience speaks here: I used to think that if I didn’t have a whole hour to work out, it wasn’t worth my time. But guess what? A 20-minute workout is better than nothing. Heck, it was an actual THING in the 80s.
(For real … I might have done one or two or a dozen of these in my living room as a teenager …)
Pop-culture trends with questionable fashion choices aside, real research says that exercise in blocks as short as 10 minutes is beneficial. And who can’t find 10 minutes? (Hint: What if you replaced Social Media time with Workout time for a week?)
Executive summary? Set a goal. Shut down the excuses. Get stickers.
Keep on being fierce, friends.
Shawna Hiley B.Sc., Ph.D., CSEP-CPT
Shawna is a Personal Trainer and fitilates Instructor at Infinite Fitness.
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