Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Enjoy Exercising Again

It's no secret that I enjoy working out. I'm running my second half marathon in less than a month, and John and I spend beach vacations playing tennis, going for walks, and throwing the football.

However, recently my love of exercising has been waning. The past couple of months, I have not felt strong as I head out for runs or lift weights. Thankfully, I now know why what used to be an easy 5 mile run has become 2 miles of torture... a diagnosis of anemia.

Yet even though I have a reason behind feeling sluggish, it's still frustrating when something you loved now requires a lot of effort.

Below are my top tips for enjoying exercising again. I hope this list is helpful for those of you recovering from an injury or illness that has prevented you from exercising, those who have hit an exercise plateau, or those whose New Year's resolutions of exercising have derailed.

North Carolina hike

  1. Give yourself grace: It's fitting that one of my words for 2013 is grace. When you used to be able to perform at a certain level, it's frustrating not being able to achieve. Instead of focusing on the 5 miles that I used to run easily, I am allowing my body to workout at the level it's capable of right now.
  2. Celebrate: It's easy to beat yourself up about a workout that didn't go as well as planned. And comparison is the thief of joy, so don't compare today's workout with what you accomplished yesterday or last month. Instead, celebrate what you did today to live a healthy life and make yourself that much stronger.
  3. Switch things up: Since I was used to being a runner, I decided to try something I purposefully was a beginner at: yoga. Though I've done yoga before, I have finished a lot more yoga and pilates DVDs and online videos in the past month than ever before. If you're new at something, you are less concerned about comparing yourself to what you've accomplished previously (see #2 and #3).
  4. Workout with a friend (or workout alone): Are you used to working out alone? Maybe it's time to give yourself some motivation by socializing while working out. Or does working out with someone else cause you to compare your performance to theirs? Then exercise alone and be grateful for the time to think and be by yourself.
  5. What's your goal? If you typically don't set goals when working out, then you might be surprised to see how motivating a goal can be. Whether it's training for your first 5K race or setting of goal of lifting weights once a week, it can be fun to track your progress. I, on the other hand, always set goals and have detailed training plans for races. I've had to let those go during this period of recovery. And I've learned that for goal-oriented people like me, it's refreshing to exercise just for the sake of exercising. 

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