How one athlete is changing the conversation around mental health.
It’s been a long winter, and we’ve spent the last few weeks convinced we’d be pretty good at curling and bobsledding if given the chance. Spring is almost in the air, and it’s time to put all that Olympic speculation toward something good: your workouts.
If you’ve been taking it easy this winter, now is the best time to start getting prepared for increased training. And if your New Year’s resolution resolved itself in January, even better. But before you rush into a workout, here’s how to make sure you get off on the right track.
As the dreary weather parts and energy is back up, it’s no surprise many of us get amped about working out, but make sure if you’ve taken it easy, that you ease into it too. Rushing into workouts can lead to soreness, fatigue, and worst of all, injury. It can also lead to feelings of discouragement. Instead of hitting the gym hard out of the gate only to be disappointed, set expectations, both physically and mentally. While starting slow can feel like a setback, it’s the smart way to set yourself up for success.
It’s easy to say your goal is to “look good for the beach” year in and year out, but that’s an easy way to set yourself up for failure. Instead of looking at airfares to tropical locations as inspiration, spend some time mapping out your goals and how you’ll get there. Are there days and times of the week you can set aside for training? Do you have a friend with similar goals that you can work with? When choosing a goal, make sure it’s actionable and clear. We all want to look good in swimsuits, but that’s subjective. Having goals like being able to do 100 push-ups or 50 burpees makes it easier to break your broader goal down into an actionable plan.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the morning sun. The days are still short, and the lack of sunlight causes our brains to produce more melatonin, making us sleepier. Instead of saving your workout for the evening, squeeze it in first thing. Wanting to train is great, but making sure you actually do it is better.
It’s easy to be inspired when watching the Olympics, but it can feel downright disheartening to be outshined in your local gym, or just by friends. Your training plan is your own. Remembering that (and sticking to that plan) can help better balance emotions. As soon as scrolling through Instagram starts to feel more discouraging than inspiring, pass on the social media and call someone who champions you, or listen to a podcast that motivates you.
Even when you’re feeling excited about a renewed workout plan, maintaining that motivation can be a challenge when you’re faced with gloomy days and slow gains. To keep you on track, start a meditation practice. In a study pending publication, just 30 days of Headspace resulted in an 11% increase in resilience. That resiliency can come in handy when workouts start to feel impossible.
So, before hitting the gym, just make sure you have these items in place: a goal that’s actionable rather than subjective, a plan for sticking to that goal, a healthy balance with social media, and some mental resiliency. If you can check those off, you’re ready for the season ahead.