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Mindfulness, and When to Just Stop Thinking

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I’m a busy woman – and it’s hard to keep everything in balance sometimes. Normally this isn’t an issue – and finding time to hit the gym usually seems like a welcome break from the huge amount of time I spend sitting in front of a computer screen… Even though I do tend to multi-task with the iPad when I’m on the treadmill.

Thing is though, as much as I’d love to say that I’m officially one of those proper fitness freaks (I mean that affectionately, you understand) that just can’t wait to hit the gym – some weeks…. Nah. Honestly. I have no interest in any of that.

One of my super-fabulous readers Maggie sent me this awesome pic labelled “For Your Motivation Files” that pretty much says it all:

Yep. That’s how this week has been. I need that dinosaur.

There are a few reasons for that. For a start, no matter how close you live to your local gym, as soon as the nights start drawing in, putting the heating on and drinking endless cups of tea seems considerably more tempting. Especially when you know you’re going to spend the next three months so wrapped up in knitwear that you can easily find room for a few extra pounds. That’s not good for anyone’s sense of purpose.

Secondly, I’ve been nursing a slightly strained shoulder for the last ten days, so I’ve been taking it easy on the weights – meaning it feels like a long time since I’ve had a ‘proper’ workout. I’ve still been walking, but it never feels quite like I’ve kicked enough butt when I haven’t lifted a couple of weights. I think it’s because walking doesn’t quite feel like it looks hardcore enough to contribute to my Rocky montage. And as soon as you get out of the habit of hitting the gym, it seems harder to get back into your routine. Like I said before, good habits are ridiculously easy to break.

So the other night, having done a pretty half-assed job of my weekend workouts, I decided there was only one thing to do. I made a bargain with myself. ‘Tonight,’ I thought, ‘I will lie on the sofa in a blanket, drink tea, and watch telly. But if I do that tonight, you have to promise me you’ll go to the gym tomorrow and give it some welly.’

No worries, I thought.

And that night was awesome. I loved it. Sometimes it’s good for the soul to just give yourself a damn break and enjoy doing nothing.

The next night rolled around, after a very long and very busy day at work – and my god, I did not want to go to the gym. Not at all. But I’d made myself that promise, and as much as the seductive looking blanket on the sofa was making my very bones ache with longing (or something like that), I had to go to the gym.

So, I dragged myself in.

An hour and a half later, I felt amazing. Better than I’ve felt all week.

I’m saying two things here. Two things that might sound like they’re at odds with one another, but they’re really not.

Firstly, sometimes it’s okay to give yourself a break. Remember, as I keep saying, we’re in ‘lifestyle change’ mode here. You can’t be perfect every day, and you’re far more likely to make a long-term success of it if you give yourself the opportunity to relax and recharge sometimes. If you’re a long-term dieter, it’s hard to get out of the mindset where you assume that one slip-up means complete failure – but seriously. Take a break. Have a Kit-Kat, if you really have to.

But, if you’re going to do that, make sure you keep yourself focused on the end goal. ‘I’m going to spend a night doing absolutely nothing because I need a break to recharge my batteries’ is a very different scenario from ‘I’m going to spend a night doing absolutely nothing because it’s the same thing I always do.’ I know if I’d had that amazing night in twice, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anywhere near as much.

There’s a thing I’ve seen doing the rounds on sites like Pinterest, and I do tend to remind myself of it sometimes. The gist is that no-one ever regrets working out. And I think that’s true, up to a point – because I’m a big advocate of not pushing yourself when you’re ill, or injured, because that will only make matters worse in the long-run. I don’t think I’ve ever had a workout that I’ve regretted once it was done – but at the same time, taking the time to relax and do nothing once in a while is not something you should regret either.

It’s about mindfulness. Paying attention to what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling, at all times, is important in this whole wellbeing thing. I enjoyed my night in because I was enjoying it for what it was – a night of pure indulgence. Just the same as, like I’ve said, I will have chocolate sometimes – but I’ll enjoy it, because I’m really paying attention to it. It’s not ‘just another chocolate bar’ or ‘just another night in.’ It’s a total, unadulterated treat.

But that said – and here’s where it seems like I’m saying two very different things – sometimes, you’ve just got to pick up and get moving. It turns out thinking about going to the gym is a much more tiring experience than just getting off your butt and doing it – so sometimes, it’s time to just quit on the thought part, and just do. Because usually, once you’ve taken those first few steps on the treadmill, you’ll realise you’re enjoying it – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that sort of irritating. Stupid fitness people being right. Grr.

It’s a matter of knowing when to be mindful, and when to just stop thinking. Those mindful treats are great, when they are treats – but thinking your way out of your gym shoes and back into your PJs is something that shouldn’t happen all too often.

So if you’re going to skip your workout tonight, bask in it. Enjoy it. Take the recline. But once you’ve enjoyed every last moment of it, it’s time to stop thinking about it. Stop thinking, and go.

You won’t regret it.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Heather Born 27 September, 2012

    Great post! I visit your site daily to read what you write! It’s very motivating and inspiring.

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 27 September, 2012

      Awww, thank you so much Heather! That’s really kind of you – I shall do my best to keep it up :) x

  • comment avatar Jana 28 September, 2012

    I’m finding in this week that this is so spot on and true. Last week, I was eating like dreck, shoving everything into my mouth by the scadful. And I wasn’t working out at all. I had a terribly bad back that week, I felt depressed and tired, and my stomach was bothering me. I was also really in a foul mood most days and insecure on the other days.

    This week? I started power walking again regularly and doing some stretching and abs. And I’ve been taking my vitamins and eating right! And when we had an indulgence for my husband’s birthday on Sunday, I didn’t go over board and didn’t continue the eating and the slothing. And this week as a result, I feel great! Alert and full of energy (and spunk!) and drive. My outlook is brighter. I feel my skin,and body feeling better already and I’m positive about the busy weeks ahead. It took just doing the right things and I feel so much better. And it wasn’t all that hard to do, either.

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