It’s not uncommon to have life take priority over lifting every now and then. You might have a deadline due at work that needs overtime. You might have a significant family dinner you need to attend or perhaps an injury you’re tending to. Then, just like clockwork, a creeping feeling within starts to take over and control your thoughts - guilt. This guilt factor kicks in when you perceive yourself to be doing the "wrong" thing or failing to do the "right" thing.
But is taking a break from a training session really the wrong thing to do? It’s easy to get addicted to exercise, with its endorphin release and associated health benefits (we know that). But when does this enthusiasm start to look a little too unhealthy? There can be a general expectation when it comes to the gym that there’s no room for excuses, ‘no days off’ and a ‘never give up’ attitude. So when you do feel like skipping the weights for the lounge, it’s easy to feel like everything you worked hard for will disappear overnight.
But here’s a newsflash - one, two, darn even three missed training sessions won’t put you back at square one - we promise.
So how do we feel less guilty for giving ourselves a break? We have put a list of a few productive tactics to help support you when you don’t feel like going to that next level at the gym.
OTHER PRODUCTIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF WORKING OUT
REST & LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Resting can be one of the most productive activities to heal and recover your body from the stress it could be experiencing. A good reason for not wanting to workout could literally be your body telling you it’s not well enough to expend the energy required for a training session. If it helps, you can also think about how unproductive it would be to put your body under the stress of a workout and then get sick or potentially injure yourself, which means more days off from the gym. So, kick the shoes off, jump into your comfy loungewear and hit the Netflix and couch. If you’re feeling particularly unwell and not yourself, best to book in for a consultation with your doctor for a professional opinion. The sooner you get on top of it - the quicker your recovery will be.
SWITCH THE WEIGHTS FOR A WALK
Don’t feel like working out? No problems, why not switch the squat rack for a nice low-intensity walk with nature; breathe in the fresh air and soak up the vitamin D. This can be a great alternative to get the blood pumping yet not overexerting yourself to the point of burnout. In fact, 30 minutes of walking has actually been proven to improve mental health. Walking helps to reduce stress, boosts your endorphins, alleviates anxiety and increases relaxation helping you to get those much needed zzz’s at night. Remember to be gentle to yourself, accept how you feel and shift your energy towards an activity that will ultimately make you feel good.
ACTIVE RECOVERY = STRETCHING, FOAM ROLLING OR YOGA
This can be an excellent opportunity to switch the time spent deadlifting, to invest in your stretching and recovery routine. If you’re finding yourself really sore after your training sessions your connective tissue could be stiff and tough around your muscle resulting in constricting expansion which will work against your gains. So say hello to your new best friend, active recovery. Static stretching will assist greatly in improving your flexibility and mobility helping you with future performance. It also helps blood circulation and reduces stiffness and pain. As well as this, foam rolling is an excellent way to alleviate symptoms of pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (AKA DOMS) from your training sessions. While foam rolling may be slightly uncomfortable at the time, we guarantee your muscles will be thanking you after. Need some foam rolling guidance? Click here. And why not top off your deep stretching routine with a little bit of yoga and Zen relaxation. Not only does yoga improve your strength, flexibility and balance but practiced regularly it may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation.
TRY A POSITIVE MINDSET
This recommendation is definitely easier said than done (we know that). However, noticing your negative thoughts is one of the first steps to flipping your mindset. Also, think about what might have triggered you to start feeling this way (but try not to dwell on it for too long). Did your partner go to the gym or did you see someone smashing a next level workout on the gram? From there, you can make an active decision to switch your thinking and shift your perspective. Instead of feeling guilty for only working out three times this week, think about how you still got the opportunity to move your body and gave it time to recover and rest properly for the upcoming week. Or try moving your body with some low-intensity moves for 15 - 20 minutes, and if you need to stop, or aren’t feeling it, then stop - something is better than nothing. Ultimately you’re allowed to have rest days, in fact, it’s essential for your gains to rest and recover your muscles properly. And remember we’re humans, no one is perfect, so take some of that weight off your shoulders and try to be kind to yourself.
BREATHE OR TRY SOME MEDITATION
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, shift your thinking to something else like some simple breathwork exercises or perhaps some meditation. Find the right, comfortable position for yourself (and comfy clothes), whether that's lying down on the bed, on a chair or cross-legged. Once you're comfortable try to allow your body to relax and feel at ease and focus purely on your breath. Keep it natural and allow it to flow in and out effortlessly. Try and observe it without judgement or attachment. Still with me? Click here for the full mediation.
FUEL YOURSELF WITH THE GOOD STUFF
Eat all the foods that make you feel good. We're not about the crash, fad diets here at Ryderwear (carbs are life) and we believe in fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs to enable you to live your best life. So when you’re feeling down, (try) to resist the whole block of chocolate and nourish your body with plenty of nutrient-rich foods. Some mood-boosting healthy foods include fatty fish, dark chocolate, bananas, oats, berries, nuts & seeds, beans and lentils as well as fermented foods that are good for your gut health like yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha. And if you enjoy cooking then this is a great alternative activity to bring you joy and that tasty feeling of accomplishment.
TAKE A BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
We have all heard this before, but taking a tiny vacation from your Instagram might just be what you need to feel less guilty for not skipping the gym. Social media can be a little overwhelming when your favourite fitness influencers are smashing their goals at the gym with their next level abs and incredible endurance. That kind of content can be awesome for inspiration and motivation (we especially know that). However, it can sometimes add fuel to the fire when you’re not feeling so keen on sweating it out at the gym or drinking a green smoothie. So just take a pause on those accounts that might make you feel not so great, or just turn your phone off for the night. Swap the screen for a book, Netflix or a good old fashioned board game with a friend or loved one.
At Ryderwear, we’re all about healthy bodies and healthy minds. Switch up your routine if you’re getting bored or unmotivated, or just allow yourself time to rest your body, brain, and soul to avoid burnout. If you’re finding yourself approaching your workouts as a chore, it’s probably worth trying to flip that mentality and look at exercise as an opportunity to move your body and flex your muscles for all the right reasons. Like it’s a time of the day just dedicated to you, it allows you to stay strong and healthy for everyday life (making those stairs at work that little easier) and it gives you those happy endorphins. If this still isn’t doing it for you, perhaps try other forms of exercise that give you joy, there are so many options out there to choose from.
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