If you had told me a year ago that I would be enjoying a workout routine, I would have laughed.
Surprisingly, I’ve been so motivated to take care of myself that I actually want to be active, which is a first for me. While I have no desire to be a triathlete — or even a uni-athlete — I’ve been consistently doing yoga since November and I’m amazed at how much it has made a difference (I use Yoga With Adriene!).
I don’t want to re-hash every fitness study ever done, but I will say that this has brought so many positive changes, the least of which are physical. I’m getting more sleep, have reduced anxiety, and while I won’t be mistaken for a CrossFit instructor anytime soon, I have noticed more muscle development and feeling healthier overall. For someone who’s spent her life avoiding anything that resembles cardio, this is a pretty big deal.
What’s made this different is that I started this journey thinking about not how I wanted to look, but how I wanted to feel. I kept my goals simple but set them with mindfulness, and I do think that’s been the key to my success. Setting goals is a personal process, but I wanted to share what’s been working for me.
Find What Feels Good // This is directly from my yoga videos, and it’s been my main mantra on this journey. Instead of trying to force myself to do things I don’t enjoy, like running or lifting weights, I’ve focused on doing activities I truly want to do. I do yoga on weekdays, I go for an afternoon walk, and I’ve been hiking on the weekends — all of which bring me joy. Following this strategy has been much more effective for me because I actually want to do these things, instead of convincing myself I have to. Which brings me to my next goal…
Respect Your Own Wishes // I can’t tell you how many internal arguments I’ve had over something I didn’t want to do — then one day, I decided to quit fighting and listen to what my body had to say. Even with workouts I enjoy, some days I am NOT feeling it. So if I don’t want to do a full workout, I just stretch for a few minutes and call it a day. If I don’t want to go for a walk, I don’t. At first, this was scary; I worried I’d quit working out altogether. However, having this self-respect has actually helped me tackle the next day with far more energy and enthusiasm — as opposed to furthering the “I don’t wanna” cycle.
Measure Progress in a Healthy Way // I’m not a proponent of scales or weigh-ins, and I think there are far better and healthier ways to measure progress. While an effective measurement method is different for everyone, having my watch has been a game changer for me. It takes a while to see results from working out, so having daily goals to hit is a tangible way to see the progress I’m making towards my well-being — without obsessing over a scale.
Be Kind (To Yourself) // I’m finally to the point in life where I don’t constantly think about what I hate about myself/what I would change/what I could do better when I’m working out, and I think the other goals I’ve set have made that possible. Everyone handles objectives differently, but my tendency to get tunnel vision makes it hard to be kind to myself if I’m falling short. Hence, the goals that have nothing to do with numbers or to-do lists! I still have those self-deprecating thoughts sometimes, but I know that learning to be kind takes time and effort. Keeping this as a goal has been extremely helpful, and even the small amount of progress I’ve made has made a world of difference in my physical (and mental!) health.
Like I said, I do think that goal-setting is a personal process, but if you think you’d never enjoy working out, this might be a good place to start. Whether it’s yoga or daily walks or you actually are interested in being a triathlete, starting from a place of mindfulness and self-care can make a world of difference in whatever practice you choose to try.