There is often uncertainty as to what the “right” type of exercise is and a struggle to find the balance between time spent at the gym and time resting.
The question of when, what and how long to exercise becomes an internal conflict which often leads to an increasing feeling of guilt when a day of exercise is missed. This is quickly followed by a fear that all of a sudden you will gain weight or drastically lose muscle mass overnight. Exercise becomes a chore rather than an activity to enjoy and the decision of whether or not you go to the gym that day becomes a daily battle.
12 Points to help you find balance in your exercise routine and calm the conflict mind and body.
1. Challenge Your Body
You need to challenge your body for it to believe that change is essential in order for it to survive
If you really want to see change take note in every workout of how much you are challenging your body. It needs to believe that it has to adapt in order to survive. Remember always stay within your limits no one else’s, you want to challenge your body not cause injury.
2. Quality not Quantity
It’s not the hours you put in but the amount of energy and commitment that drives your training which makes the difference. Believe that a 20, 30 or 45 minutes strength conditioning or cardio work at a challenging intensity will achieve results. It is the mind’s struggle and belief that long hours = more commitment and bigger change. Focus on what you are doing, your precision and energy rather than the time.
3. Increase the Intensity
Giving 110% in short bursts of high intensity training will be sure to make your body wakes up and listens. It’s the craze and there is a reason for it, it produces change.
4. Mix it up
Unless you change your training from time to time or up the intensity level the benefits of training will either slow or stop completely. Mixing up your type of training is a great way of continuing to challenge your body with new exercises using different muscles.
5. Even it up
There are 5 components of exercise which are all important for our body to function and develop, these include cardio, strength and flexibility. We may have a favourite but to ensure your body is getting everything it needs then balance it out and incorporate them all into your training regime.
In finding balance in your training one thing is always dismissed and that is the understanding that rest is absolutely paramount. Rest is essential to achieving change, preventing injury and burnouts. Training needs to be sustainable and enjoyable. If you put too much stress on your body your stress hormone cortisol increases. This hormone increases appetite and fat storage because your body is preparing for what it believes is a fight to come. Too many consecutive work out days and no rest days will stop the benefits of training and even reverse them.
Rest time is also when muscle building happens and thus when change occurs. Continuing to train before your muscles have repaired will mean you won’t reap the maximum benefits from your training and even worse cause injury, illness or burnout.
What you eat and when you eat is also essential in finding your training balance. Foods full of nutrients is vital to fuel your body so ensure you eat before and after training, never skip meals. If you don’t fuel up before your training session you limit your ability to give 110% and you will burn muscle as well as fat. If you fail to feed your body after you train you burn muscle and limit your body’s ability to repair and build, both put undue stress on your body.
8. There is no Right or Wrong way to exercise
There are types of training which will receive faster results like high intensity training but it is what YOU want out of training which is key. Once you understand what you are looking for, either to increase fitness, de-stress, gain flexibility etc. you can then mould your training and type of exercises to achieve this.
9. Enjoy it
Exercise like any activity is an individual choice. The only way you are going to find out whether you like something is if you try it. There are many ways to exercise, different classes to try, sports and physical activities to participate in so there is bound to be one you are more akinned to.
10. Exercise as a Process
Unless you have a specific training goal in mind think of exercise as a process rather than a means to an end. Incorporate it into your life for the long-term rather than exercising excessively because you feel you should. This will also help to calm those feelings of guilt which rise when you miss a gym session. Instead you will realise that you have the next day or next week. There is always tomorrow.
11. Be Consistent and Create a Routine for Mind and Body
Consistency is key to ensure that your body and mind recognise that this routine will happen, again and again. This is needed in order for adaptation to take place so the mind and body continue to work efficiently in light of this new routine. Building any routine is always going to be hard because it hasn’t been established yet but once that structure and mind-set has formed it will get easier.
12. Be Patient
Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time to process and develop. Nothing will come of beating yourself up for missing a session apart from a conflicted mind-set which we try to not feed.