Monday, January 04, 2010

Small Victories: Overcoming the "perfect workout"

I'm deciding to start a new blog series called Small Victories. These blogs will be dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the small changes that are made in the transition to a healthy lifestyle. I don't think that people (myself especially) focus so much on the big goals (like weight loss), that we don't celebrate those small changes. Those small changes are actually the reason the big goals get accomplished, so acknowledging the small victories can help you see how much progress you have made. If you think you aren't making progress, keeping a list of your small victories to reflect on in down times will help tremendously!!

If you know me or have been following my blogs long enough, you'll know that I am obsessed with perfection. The strive to be perfect plagues me every day and really gets in the way of my goal setting. I tend to have a black or white view on perfection. If I can't achieve perfection, I normally just give up and don't try. Overcoming this perfection plague has been a priority for me as of late as I'm trying to live a more balanced life. I keep reminding myself that I have to practice what I preach. How can I be a successful RD and tell people to set achievable goals when I am not doing that in my own life? Obviously this is an area I am working on and I recently have been focused on my biggest struggle, overcoming the "perfect workout."

My "perfect workout" involves working out for 1 hour (minimum) a day, usually 6 days a week. This "perfect workout" involves a class at my gym - usually spinning, water aerobics, step aerobics, body pump or yoga. If not a class at my gym, I run for 2-3 miles and walk about a mile between my warm up and cool down. Now, obviously these are decent workouts right? I definitely need to add strength training (part of my January goals that I haven't posted yet), but other than that.. I'm really pushing myself hard with these workouts. And honestly, most weeks the "perfect workout" is completely achievable. But the problem arises when I have a scheduling conflict or generally burn myself out and I can't achieve a week of perfect workouts. As I mentioned above, I'm inclined to do nothing and usually - that's exactly what I do.

The holidays were emotional, busy and overall threw me off my routine and I found myself not working out at all when faced with the lack of time or drive to complete my "perfect workouts." Isn't that ridiculous? I had plenty of time some days to work out for an hour and more than enough times that I could workout for at least 30 minutes, but I chose to not workout instead! A big part of my problem is the lack of activities that I enjoy and find rewarding that don't last an hour. I am motivated the most by group exercise and slightly less (but still a lot) so by running outside. When it's cold, I don't want to run outside. I generally hate the cardio machines in the gym, so lately I've been leaving myself the option of a group fitness class only. If I can't attend, I don't work out.

That's just not acceptable and I have realized I have to make a mental change. Last week, I decided to suck it up and just GO to the gym and get on the elliptical. I absolutely despise the elliptical, but realistically I can tolerate it for 20 minutes maximum. I prefer 15 minutes :). Same goes for the treadmill, but I can make myself run a mile on it before I want to go insane. I'm trying to like the stairmaster, but that's still a work in progress.  Continuing on this path, Saturday with the option of group exercise not available, I chose to take a long 4 mile walk with Matt and Lexi and just get outdoors. Sure, I wasn't running - but since I had company I had a great time.

The point IS that there are plenty of exercises I can still do when group exercise is not available. There also are times when a shorter, less intense workout is just as beneficial (if not more!) than my "perfect workout." The hard part is pushing myself to not over think the workout and just GO. With school about to start and my extra time about to be significantly crippled by the extra load of school, now is definitely the time to start re-evaluating my workouts and make sure that I have a plan that is both enjoyable and attainable. A week of "perfect workouts" on top of school and work is NOT achievable for this upcoming semester.

So where have my small victories been lately? Well, there have been several! As I mentioned, Saturday I went on a long walk for my workout. Sunday I chose to take my little sister (big brothers big sisters) ice skating rather than to a movie and we skated for 1.5 hours! These were both great victories for me since normally I would feel unaccomplished since my workouts were not intense or traditional. But perhaps the greatest victory occurred this morning.

This week is VERY hectic at work. I have conference calls that last most of the day today, tomorrow and Wednesday. This means some late nights that are going to interfere with my workouts (i.e.. too dark to run outside and no group exercise offered). Today, knowing that I would be at work until ~7:30pm, I asked my boss if I could come in a little later than normal. Mondays I normally come into work at 6:30 AM so I was very thrilled he let me come in at 9 AM. The SOLE reason I asked him for this favor was so I could start my day with a workout. I awoke this morning 1 hour earlier than necessary to go to the gym and get in a very short but intense workout on the elliptical/treadmill. Even better was the fact that I was running 30 minutes late compared to my original plan and normally I would totally blow off my workout due to the "lack of time". But today, I stuck it out and decided that working out and going into work 30 minutes later was NOT a problem and would be totally worth it. And that's exactly what I did! The entire time that I was at the gym, I felt accomplished and I celebrated my victory.

I thought afterwards about how my workout this morning took 30 minutes, in which I burned 425 calories. If I did ONLY 5 of these workouts a week, I would burn 2,215 calories a week, which is 8,500 calories a month. That is 2.5 pounds a month that I would lose simply from these easy workouts that I never have deemed significant before. So in the weeks when I feel rushed or like I have no time to workout, just getting to the gym to do a simple workout will really add up over time. This was very eye opening and rewarding for me to think about this morning and definitely motivates me to just GET to the gym, no matter what. Sure, I will still strive to fit in my "perfect workouts" when I can, but I also will try to integrate more of these simple workouts into my weekly routine.

The entire principle of SparkPeople is that any fitness is better than no fitness. They preach that even 10 minutes a day will make a difference and they have a large variety of 5-10 minute workout videos available on their website. While I've always believed their principle, I've never applied it to my own life. I am going to continue celebrating my small victory of overcoming my "perfect workout" in 2010 by applying SparkPeople's principle and getting in a workout anytime that I can. Any workout is better than no workout, especially when the only reason I'm not working out is because my workout isn't "perfect" in my eye.

What are some small victories that you have celebrated lately? How does celebrating these small victories help you accomplish the big goals? What is your "perfect workout" and what do you do when you can't achieve it?

1 comment:

  1. Love the idea of the small changes! I'm trying to apply this myself with my workouts- it's so hard when your so busy, but a 30 min walk is better than not doing anything at all. It's hard to convince yourself that that's okay isn't it? It is for me at least.