In one of our previous blog posts on Decision Fatigue, Claire Desroches, personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist talked about decision fatigue and how it can affect your training and exercise levels
In this short post, Claire will try to give you some ideas that might help you to keep up your exercise motivation and help you stay on track with your fitness…..
Find your “why” – and your “why not”
Before you start drafting your plan you need to have some idea of the training you want to do in a week,
and some knowledge about what motivates you (for example, whether after a stressful day you find a gentle session or a vigorous session more restorative).
There is a lot of emphasis in the fitness world on having a specific goal to train towards, and I have always opposed this. If you are intrinsically motivated, you may not need a set outcome to motivate you; finding sessions that make you feel good, day after day, may be enough. Personally, I would argue that we should all be striving to find physical activities that we simply enjoy doing for their own sake, but that’s a debate for a whole other day.
So although you may not need to set yourself a goal, you should find your “why”. Why do you want to exercise? And why do you want to do that particular type of exercise? Is it because you’ve been told it’s the best way to get fit or to look a certain way? Is it because you enjoy doing it? Is it because it makes you feel good after you’ve done it? Any reason is valid – just know why you’re doing a particular activity.
It’s just as important to have a “why not”. Why might you not train today? Will you choose to have a rest day because you didn’t sleep well, and think an afternoon nap would do you more good? Would you feel better off skipping the exercise session when you have a busy day at work? Of course, you need a “why” to have a “why not”: I train because it makes me feel good, and because I want to keep my knee safe and strong – so if my knee is feeling sore when I wake up, or it gets sore 30 minutes into what I hoped would be a 60-minute bike session, I’ll skip the rest of the leg work –and if I had planned to train between my 2 and 3 pm clients and have lunch later, but I’m ravenous, I might choose to have lunch instead rather than muddle through an exercise session with half the energy.
Having set reasons to train and not to train helps take some of the decision-making out of it. Honestly, most days I don’t really want to get on the bike. But I know it keeps my legs strong, and makes me feel really good afterwards for the rest of the day. So unless my knee is sore, or I have other priorities that day – like catching up with a friend, or getting some admin done, or anything that would make me feel more accomplished at the end of the day than having cycled – the “why” is stronger than the “why not”, so I get on with it, knowing that if at any point in the session it seems like I’m not accomplishing what I hoped, I can stop and redirect my time and energy elsewhere.
Establishing your “why” and your “why not” should give you plenty of reasons to back up any decision you make to train or not to train. But sometimes things get in the way, and guilt is the biggest impediment to making positive change. If you made the “wrong” decision one day – you thought you were too tired but realised by bedtime you had too much energy, or you overdid it and ended up exhausted the next day, or started a session and got distracted by a family member or call or email or any of the other hundreds of distractions we have around our homes – try to remember that physical activity is supposed to be a way to enrich your life and wellbeing, not take away from it. If your training plan doesn’t build flexibility in, it’s the wrong training plan, no matter how “perfect” it looks. And getting the training plan wrong is OK too. Goodness knows I’ve gotten my own training wrong far more than I’ve gotten it right, and I feel like I’m doing OK so far!