Fitness

How to Know When to Take a Break

How to Know When to Take a Break - Josie Feather Blog

I’m one of those all-or-nothing types. Either I’m obsessively doing something all the time, or I drop it and completely forget about it altogether. I really struggle with balance which I know a lot of other people do as well. I tend to think that if I’m going to miss one day at the gym, well then, I might as well just skip the whole week! It’s a really damaging way to think and often leads to feeling either depressed about missing one measly workout, or pushing through even when I shouldn’t and hurting myself physically or mentally.

The thing is, it’s all mindset. There’s no other way to avoid it then to change how you view it, which is way harder to me then just physically pushing through something. I’d so much rather attempt to run a 5k on a broken leg then try to wrangle my thoughts under control. The all or nothing mindset has been something I have really been trying to work on lately.

Even though I’ve got a long way to go, I thought it’d be nice to share those signs I’ve been tying to keep an eye out for that tell me it’s time to take a much needed break. I’ve been trying to apply these same ideas to all areas of my life, but have been trying to really focus in on what it means for my exercise routine.

PAIN

The most obvious sign. If you’ve been working out hard and are experiencing pain in your muscles, it’s time to take a break! Let your body rest so you can come back and kill it next time. You’ll only make things worse, and probably cause a full blown injury, by pushing through. Also take it as an opportunity to look at your habits and see if you can adjust anything to avoid pain in the future (you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout - stretching!).

EXHAUSTION

It’s honestly hard for me to tell the difference between physical and mental exhaustion, it all just runs together in my mind, so let’s talk about both. Last week i was feeling it for a lot of reasons. When it first hit me I tried to talk myself into ignoring it and plowing through, but instead I took a step back and saw how much I had been doing - hitting the gym 6 days a week for the past few weeks, walking a lot even on my off days, and running from thing to thing in my personal life. Honestly, I wasn’t even excited to go to the gym the next day, which is actually really rare for me. So I decided to take a day off right in the middle of the week. Instead of letting myself worry that it was the end of the world that I skipped one day, I set my sights on enjoying a rare weekday morning at home before work, and rekindling my excitement to get back to the gym the next day.

LACK OF MOTIVATION

Let’s be straight here, I’m not talking about when you are just getting started and motivation is hard as h*ck, I’m talking about when you have already pushed through that phase and have found that you usually love working out, but all the sudden it’s become a chore. Take a look at why that is. If you’re feeling a little depressed, it may be good to keep pushing through since it may actually help, but if you’re otherwise feeling fine and you’re just dreading your workout then maybe it’s time to take a break and come back with a new plan.

I was starting to feel a little blah about my gym time a few months ago and decided to start a new workout plan, and I am so glad I did! It’s hugely helped me reconnect with what I love about working out, and seeing results from all my hard work gets me even more excited to keep going!

5 Tips for Exercising in the Morning

5 Tips for Exercising In the Morning - Josie Feather Blog

Confession time: I used to truly hate working out in the morning. I used to only run in the afternoons or at night. I was tired, grouchy, and ran about as fast as a baby sloth before 10am. On the rare occasion I would attempt a morning workout I would spend the whole time thinking about how terrible it was.

When I went back to work full time and essentially had no choice but to workout in the morning, I knew I would have to suck it up and just do it. Can I just be real? It sucked, for a while. My body did not acclimate quickly at all. I’d say it was almost a full two months of getting up and going to the gym every weekday morning before I finally started to be okay with it. It’s hard to believe that now I vastly prefer early AM workouts!

If you’re thinking about switching out your PM workouts for the morning, here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve figured out along the way that hopefully will make your transition a little easier:

FIND YOUR BEST SITUATION

So I actually have free access to a gym at work. I don’t have to pay a cent and I could literally walk right from the gym to our photo studio. It would save a lot of time and money to just use that gym (and ya’ll know I’m a cheapskate so you’d think I would) - but I hate it. It’s small, which means limited machines that people are always fighting over, the showers in the locker room are always out of hot water, it’s at the top of a building which means its about a thousand degrees and a million percent humidity, and on top of that you’re working out with people you work with (which just feels weird to me, but maybe I’m crazy). I spend more time and money driving out to my gym, but the experience it so much better, which makes getting up at the crack of dawn just a little easier. So don’t fight it - if your gym situation is truly making you unhappy, try something new until you find a good fit.

Also, tons of people aren’t gym people (I actually used to not be, but have since come to love it!) and that’s cool! Whether it’s working out at home, taking classes, or going for a run outside, figure out what’s the best situation for you. There is so no size fits all, and sometimes it take a little trial and error to figure out what works for you!

DON’T SNOOZE

Seriously guys, you can’t let yourself snooze if you’re going to stay on track. On days I wake up and truly am just not feeling up to hitting the gym I reset my alarm and go back to sleep. If you’re going, you need to just do it. Here’s the secret trick - don’t let yourself think about it. Your brain can be a jerk who just wants to complain in the morning, so sometimes you just gotta get ahead of it. Yes, it’s borderline painful for about the first 5 minutes, but once you get past that it usually gets a lot easier, and just remember that the sooner you get past those 5 minutes the easier it’ll get. Also, have you ever actually felt better with 7 minutes of extra sleep? No! Typically I just feel more groggy the more I snooze, so forget the snooze button and just go!

HAVE A PLAN

There’s nothing worse then walking into the gym at 5:30 in the morning and having no idea what you’re doing. I originally got started by doing a LSF 30 day challenge, so I knew exactly what I was doing (usually a little cardio, followed by grabbing a mat and doing that day’s challenge). I actually didn’t have a program for a few months after that, and while I still got things done, I still found myself wandering aimlessly on more then one occasion. Now I’m week 10 into the BBG program and am so happy I committed to it. Having a plan laid out for me every day has helped me so much! If you prefer classes then sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule them all out in advance - you’ll thank yourself later!

HAVE EVERYTHING READY THE NIGHT BEFORE

This is a tired tip that everyone will give you, but that’s for good reason - It’s really is one of the most important things. I don’t know about you, but my brain is not functioning at 5am, so to expect myself to be able to get everything I need together (or even just to pick out clothes) would be cruel. I lay everything (and I mean everything) out the night before. I even try to put anything I can already in the car. This makes it a lot less painful when I’m feeling particularly zombie-eque some mornings.

TALK POSITIVE TO YOURSELF

I can be mean to myself. Like, really mean. When I switched to morning workouts I really had to commit myself to stop being negative in my own head. Instead of thinking about how much slower I was running in the morning, I would congratulate myself for getting through a run - no matter what speed it was at. I also had to ditch all negative talk when I was at the gym. Instead of getting annoyed someone was on the machine I wanted, I would just turn around and find a different one, no grumbling about it to myself. This little change in internal attitude can make the biggest difference. Ban all negative talk when you’re at the gym - if you’re there, then you’re already killing it!

Getting up early to workout may never be super duper fun, but there are a lot of ways to take some of the pain out of it. Make the morning as easy as you can for yourself. Have everything ready to go, schedule a workout class you love, and tell yourself the night before that you’re going to have a great morning.

My Morning Routine (with a full time job)

My Morning Routine (with a full time job) - Josie Feather Blog

The beginning of last year I was freelancing, so life was a little different then. When I accepted a full time position in May I knew I needed to make some changes. Not only was I going back to the 9-5, but I was also going back to a commute into the city (an hour each way) so my free time would be a lot more limited. I knew I wanted to set aside my nights to recharge and spend time with my husband, so that meant I needed to start taking advantage of my mornings as the time to work on myself.

My mornings feel a little crazy at times, but it’s worked well for me. Since we live in the middle of nowhere my gym is about 20 minutes away, which takes up a lot of time, and I’m really hoping I can change that in the future. Either way though, I am so glad I’ve found something that works for me, and I really wish I had started a morning routine a few years ago!

5:00 // WAKE UP

My husband makes fun of me for it, but when my alarm goes up I sit right up. My brain is not on, and I’m essentially a zombie, but I know if I let myself stay laying I’ll be passed out asleep again in no time. So I sit up and give myself a minute to adjust.

Once I drag myself out of bed I brush my teeth and throw on my gym clothes. Packing all my bags and setting out my clothes the night before is the most important part of having a successful morning for me. If I have to think about finding clothes in the morning I might as well just go back to sleep.

I grab my lunch for work and I am out the door and on my way to the gym. I’ll usually eat a banana on my way, although I don’t find myself as hungry first thing in the morning as I was last year when I first started my routine, so I go with how I’m feeling that day.

5:40 // GYM TIME

The thing I love about my gym time, more than the endorphins and more than feeling vaguely like wonder woman afterwards, is that it’s the one time of day I can always count on to be “me time”. Even if the rest of the day is pure chaos, having that chunk of time in the morning to only worry about me and focus on what I’m doing is such a huge mental help.

After I throw everything into my locker, I do some stretching for a few minutes before I hit the floor. I’ve been working my way through the BBG program (which I talked a bit about here!) which has helped me lately, since I’m no longer wandering aimlessly around the gym. After I wrap up whatever’s on my BBG schedule I try to do a few minutes of yoga and more stretching!

6:40 // CLEAN YASELF UP

I try to shoot to wrap up my workout around 6:40 and jump right in the shower. I KNOW, everyone is freaked out by gym showers, I used to be too. I have been pleasantly surprised by how clean my gym keeps their showers, and really, there’s just no way I could make it home in time to shower and still stay on schedule, so it’s really my only option. So far I’ve lived to tell the tale.

I usually only do my hair once or twice a week and then just dry shampoo the other days so I don’t have to wash or style too much. I’m all about keeping it simple.

7 // ON THE ROAD

On my way to work I try to either listen to an audiobook or start the day with an inspirational podcast (I love Optimal Living Daily and Chasing Joy!). Starting my day with something inspirational always helps to put me in a good mood and focus my brain on big-picture goals.

8(ish) // QUICK “MIRACLE MORNING”

Once I get to work I usually chill in my car for a few minutes and go through a short and sweet version of the “miracle morning”. A few minutes of meditating, affirmations, and visualizations, followed by writing just a bit in my journal. It all sounds so cheesy, and I was hesitant to try it at first too, but I have been loving the new additions! I am still really really really bad at meditating but it’s all about practice, right? I would definitely recommend adding in some or all of these to your routine. They’ve been really helping me start my day with a positive and clear mindset!

That’s it! It might seem like a lot, but adding these to my mornings instead of rolling out of bed and heading right into work and any craziness that might ensue, has helped so much with my overall happiness. It’s a lot harder to have a bad day when you’re full of endorphins and spent a few minutes clearing your brain out!

I am obsessed with hearing other people’s morning routines, so tell me what you are currently doing for yourself in the AM!