Ever since I had an L5 stress fracture in my spine that resulted in one of my vertebrae slipping forward slightly, I’ve dealt with flare-ups in back and leg pain. It’s not all the time and I have long stretches where I feel really good, but in the back of my mind I know there’s always the possibility that I might not be able to do what I want physically at some point in the future. This can make staying in shape frustrating. I’ll have a few months where I feel really good, strength train 4-5x a week, do cardio, and really see some “gains.”
Aaaand then I’ll tweak something, the wind will blow the wrong way, or who-knows-what and I’ll have to take a week off, switch to walking workouts, and “lose progress”. I really had to change my mentality and come to the realization that there is no end goal! I’m not a professional athlete, I don’t depend on my physical strength to support my livelihood, I simply workout to boost endorphins and stay happy. That means I do what I can with what my body is up for on any given day. I’ve developed some techniques to keep from getting frustrated when it comes to workouts.
- When you plan your workout schedule for the week, give yourself options
I am the type of person where if I have something written down for the day, I feel really guilty if I don’t get it done. Sometimes this translates to doing a workout my body isn’t up for because “it’s written on the planner!!” and causing myself pain. Dumb. To remedy this, I give myself options. Body Pump class OR long walk with pushups after. Goat yoga OR a few laps in a pool. Then I still feel like I accomplished what I wanted (getting some exercise) without hurting myself or feeling guilty for bailing on a scheduled workout.
2. Modify, modify, modify
Sometimes I’ll be in a workout class and the instructor will pull out a move and my body is like:
OLD Georgia Mae, the dumber one, would be all “omg everyone is watching me they’re going to think I’m a weakling if I don’t look exactly like the instructor… whatev I’ll just push through.” You know who cares what you’re doing in a workout class? NOBODY. Skip the moves that don’t feel right and substitute in ones that do! It is your workout. And if somebody were to be judging you in secret..who really cares?3. Keep in mind that diet is equally important
No matter what is going on in your life or with your workouts, you can always try your best to eat healthy and avoid taking in too many calories. During the week I cook a lot of lean proteins, a ton of vegetables, whole grains, and snack on dates or apples in between meals. Mentally, this keeps me sharp and alert, and reminds me that there are many ways to focus on your health besides just being in the gym. It also keeps me from gaining weight during the periods in which I can’t exercise as much as I’d like. This does NOT mean depriving or starving yourself because you cannot torch calories at the gym. It DOES mean giving your body the nutrients and building blocks it needs to recover and work efficiently.
4. Remember that your worth is NOT defined by the number on a scale, the amount you can lift, the miles you run every day, or how long you can hold a back bend. Quit staring at people doing Burpees on Instagram if it makes you sad. There’s a season for everything in life. When you’re spending less time exercising, make it a priority to fill that time with activities that are meaningful to you. Reading, cooking, writing, watching movies that are on your list, volunteering, sleeping even! You are wonderfully made, and the physical stuff you can do is just that…stuff. Don’t put so much importance in it.