Many fitness tips focus on all the workout strategies, exercise ideas, staying committed, and sticking to it. It may be shocking and seem conflicting to learn that following through no matter what can actually be detrimental to long-term success.
We all have lives with many important areas. Whether we’re focused on family, a career, something else, or many different things, fitness is never going to be the only important part of life. Since there is only so much a person can do, we have to prioritize. Fitness doesn’t have to always be the #1 priority, or even in the top 10. Sometimes there’s an injury that requires inactivity, a career gets demanding, a child needs extra attention, someone gets sick, or a transition requires more than planned. That’s okay. There are seasons for everything. Sometimes it’s a good season to focus on or incorporate fitness, and sometimes it’s just not.
There are different types of fitness tips for different seasons.
When it’s a good season for fitness, it can be very beneficial to follow fitness tips that provide exercise ideas and encourage regular workouts. However, when fitness is not right given the current season, trying to push through can be damaging.
Pushing through too much can lead to:
1. Workout burnout.
Overexercising is doing more than what is healthy for the body, mind, or both. It can be associated with many negative effects including injuries, fatigue, a decrease in performance, difficulty recovering from a workout, and negative feelings and associations.
2. Negative feelings and associations.
Forcing fitness tends to bring negative feelings to the idea of working out, which builds associations. If it’s forced too frequently, it can begin to feel like a punishment be a bad experience every time.
3. Not following through long-term.
Who wants to go to the gym or take a run when it feels like a punishment? This is a recipe for a bad day that makes it harder and harder to stick to a fitness routine as time passes. Taking a break can be just what is needed to start fresh, regain positive emotions, and strengthen self-motivation.
When is it time for a break from fitness?
The occasional day or two of less fitness motivation is normal. This is when it’s good to use motivating fitness tips. When those less motivated days become regular or include a negative feeling that lasts through a workout, it may be time for a break. When other important areas of life begin to suffer because of too much focus on fitness, it may be time for a break. When the stress that is caused by forcing fitness outweighs the benefits of working out, it may be time for a break. That’s okay, because a break doesn’t mean the end.
There are ways to take a break without giving up on fitness completely.
1. Commit to taking a full break for a specific amount of time.
It is important that a break be intentional. Letting it slide without a plan is a slippery slope. The plan can always be reassessed and adjusted, but there needs to be one. This can be an exact date on the calendar of when fitness will resume or an understanding that it will restart after a specific event. For example, there may be a plan for a fitness routine to restart no more than three days after the kids are back in school, arrival to a new duty station, or a work project is completed.
2. Take a partial break for a specific amount of time.
This involves loosening the requirements, lowering the pressure, and doing what feels right on any given day. If the weather is nice and a short run sounds fun, put on the shoes and go. If plans change and there’s extra time for a home workout, do it. If the hotel has a gym, take advantage. If other priorities need to bump fitness, let yourself off the hook and know you’re doing what is best given the situation. Again, set a specific time to restart a more regular fitness schedule.
The essential component of taking a break is to embrace the break from fitness.
If a break is the best decision for the season there’s no reason to feel bad about it. Guilt and shame defeat the purpose of taking a break. These feelings build negative associations with working out, making it even harder to restart and maintain later. It also makes the break unpleasant and harmful to emotional health.
It’s important to listen to the body and mind. If a break from fitness is needed, it’s best to take it and embrace it. Happy and productive breaks make happy and productive fitness routines.
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