A huge part of being a healthy person is sticking to a fitness routine. Being out of shape negatively affects nearly every aspect of our lives. But we can’t simply put our heads down and work out until we drop. Any overall wellness plan must not sacrifice other forms of self-care for the sake of fitness. As a fitness fanatic myself, I learned the hard way that fitness burnout is real. I was crushing my fitness goals, but it came at the expense of my own happiness. Here’s how to ensure you balance your fitness with everything else to stay physically, emotionally, and mentally well.
Develop a fitness routine that doesn’t take hours
If you have to spend hours every single day completing your fitness routine, it stands to reason that you won’t have as many hours in the day left for anything else. I used to try to cram everything into one session to maximize my results. I was an exercise machine, but more time spent exercising doesn't mean better fitness. This is a myth. It’s about making it count - quality over quantity. Can you get a total body workout in 15 minutes? You sure can. Or if you want to focus 15 minutes on a certain muscle group, you can stack a few of these workouts for a 30-45 minute routine. Don’t spend 90 minutes on a treadmill. Turn the intensity up and get it done in 45. Another way to save time working out is doing it at home. You can find a spare room or space and set up a home gym.
Take some days off for mindfulness
Despite what you might think, it’s ok to build in some “off” days from your cardio/aerobic/strength workout regimen and splice in some mindfulness days. Before I switched my mindset, I would workout seven days a week and feel guilty if I missed a day. Every day I would get home dog tired, leaving zero time and energy to do things I enjoy. It’s important that at least once a week you so something mostly for your mind. This can be meditation or focused breathing. It can be massage or aromatherapy. It can also be something like yoga, which will tick off the mindfulness and fitness boxes. However, don’t make the mistake I did at first of treating low impact exercise as an “off” day. Trade in the sweat session for a de-stress session. This weekly rest will recharge you - mind, body, and spirit.
Schedule group exercise (even if it’s not that hardcore)
Every act of fitness you do doesn’t have to be about big gains. One way to keep from neglecting the all-important social aspect of your overall wellness is to work some social interaction into your physical activity. Group classes at your local gym or YMCA are one good option. But if you have a friend or family member who is up for it, having a workout partner that you are actually close to is the best. I got one of my closest friends into exercise, and we push each other to the next level. She’s not afraid to tell me when I’m going overboard either. Sometimes we all need that little reminder that good enough is enough.
Don’t forget to eat
Some fitness-heads think that since they are working out a lot, then they can eat whatever they want with no consequences. Others think that they will be healthier if they forgo meals, as not to “waste” their workout. Both of these opinions are based on misinformation. For overall wellness, you must continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet - no matter how much you’re working out. I’ve never been one to pay much attention to what I eat, and cooking isn’t my strong suit. Imagine my surprise when I looked online and found easy, healthy recipes I could whip up quickly and tasted yummy too. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to revamp your diet.
Listen to your body
Despite the opinion of some, it is possible to workout too much. Not only can it negatively affect your physical health, but it can stress your mental state too. At one point I was exercising every single day, and instead of feeling energized, I was worn slap out. In order to maintain a good fitness-life balance, you can't overdo it. You have to find your sweet spot - where nothing in your life is being sacrificed for fitness.
One example of people overdoing it comes from those in addiction recovery. It’s vital to have a solid fitness routine if you’re recovering, but you can push it too far, too fast. You have to listen to your body and make sure that you’re not replacing one addiction for an - albeit healthier (but still detrimental) - other addiction.
Overall wellness includes physical fitness. It also include spiritual wellness, mental stability, and social wellbeing. As soon as you begin to sacrifice one of the latter for the former, you’re going to run into problems. Any workout routine you settle on shouldn’t monopolize your time. Focus on working out in balance with the rest of your overall wellness goals.
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash