exercise

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!

You Don't Have to Love It // The Secret to Getting Started

You Don't Have to Love It, The Secret to Getting Started - Josie Feather Blog

The other day I was checking in with a friend on how of her fitness goals have been going and she said they had come to a halt because she “just hates running”. Oh gosh, have I been there. If you all think that I was born loving to run, work out, meditate, eat spinach, or basically any of the other things I do on almost a daily basis, well let me just tell ya - you’re wrong.

When I started running I hated it. If they handed out world records for how incredibly bad you could be at running then I would have easily won. My breathing was so bad I felt like I was constantly being strangled. I got side cramps like you wouldn’t believe. I was slow. SO SLOW. In fact, I am still incredibly slow compared to most “runners”. When I started going to the gym I hated that too. I felt like everyone was looking at me, probably thinking about how I was using every single machine wrong. All I wanted to do was get the heck outta there. Don’t even get me started on my switch to working out in the morning, that just felt like some type of cruel and unusual punishment.

But I didn’t stop running, I didn’t stop going to the gym, and I didn’t stop waking myself up at some ungodly hour to sweat first thing in the morning.

Even though I truly and deeply hated these things, and was legitimately bad at them, I kept with them. I knew they would make me a better person long term, and they were part of a process of achieving bigger goals, and if I gave up I would save myself the short term pain, but set myself up for long term frustration. I know that, because I had given up about a million times before that, and it had only served to make me feel worse.

You go to work every day even though maybe you don’t absolutely love it, right? Filing documents, answering annoying emails, or dealing with customers may not be at the top of your list of things you love, but you find a way to get it done anyway. So what if I told you that when it comes to things that are good for you, you don’t have to love them? You don’t need to feel like they’re your life’s calling in order to do them. What if you stopped putting the pressure on yourself to love every single thing you do, and instead learned to sit with that discomfort?

In fact, I’m giving you full permission to hate those things.

but hate them while you do them

Let’s get something straight here though. I’m not talking about forcing yourself to do the bizarre things that the “Wellness” or “fitness” communities tell you to - or basically anything anyone tells you to do (except maybe your doctor). I’m talking about things you intuitively know are important for you. I definitely don’t believe that everyone needs to run, but I do know that everyone needs some type of regular movement in their life. I don’t think you need to eat all organic food or swap your chocolate chips for fancy cacao nibs, but you should probably make sure that you at least eat some veggies occasionally.


All I’m trying to say here is, there are things in our life that are good for us, even though we don’t love them, and that’s okay.


It’s okay not to love them, but never eating a vegetable because you don’t love them is probably something you need to work on getting over.

This is definitely not just about exercise or eating right, it’ll probably come up with almost any habits you try to build in your life. Let me tell you, I still don’t love waking up at 5am even though I’ve been doing it almost every day for a year. I’m okay with the fact that I’ll probably never love it, but I can see how much good it does in my life, so I keep my focus on that instead of constantly talking to myself about how much I hate it.

Learning to sit with the discomfort of not liking something, but pushing through it anyway has taught me so much more then I ever would have learned by avoiding tough things. And who knows? you might find yourself ending up like me and learning to adore some of the things you used to absolutely loathe, like running!

What I've gained from exercise that's way better than abs

Josie Davis

The conversation about fitness tends to revolve around one thing : “Looking good” whatever that means. MAYBE if there’s time, health will be thrown in there too. But in general, the exercise industry tends to direct all of it’s attention towards reminding you that you need to look better and that’s the number one reason you should be working out regularly.

Want to hear a dirty little secret of mine? How I look is the least important reason I work out on a daily basis, and I truly believe that’s why I’ve been able to build such a strong and healthy relationship with the gym. Seeing my body change has just been an extra benefit. It’s not a punishment to go to the gym because I don’t look good - it’s a pleasure to go to the gym because it makes me feel good.

If you’ve been struggling with building a healthy workout routine in your life, I highly recommend ditching the body shaming and find some new motivation. You need to change your mindset and focus your sights on all of the great things that will happen inside your mind and body, and stop worrying so much about what the scale says if you want a shot at having a loving relationship with the gym.

If you’re trying to find some better reasons to get in your daily sweat sesh, here are mine…

Physical Health

I know, this is probably an obvious one, but it’s hard to fully communicate how poor my quality of life was before I started exercising. In fact, I really had no idea how bad it was, or how much it could improve until it all changed.

You might also think that your health really isn’t that bad, you’re fine! so did I. After reading a lot about how exercise changes both your mind and body I really do believe that if you don’t have some regular physical activity in your schedule, then you’re not seeing your optimum health.

There’s a ton of little health benefits I’ve seen, but one major one has been my energy level. I used to be able to take a nap anytime, anywhere. I was exhausted all of the time. Doctors regularly tested me for Anemia, worried about how lethargic I was. Not only do I have more energy in general, but since I’ve switched my gym time to 5am and got them in before work, I rarely hit that 2pm slump that used to crush me.

Mental Health

I have been on anti-depressants, I’ve done countless hours of talk therapy, and more group therapy then I ever wanted, but I can confidently say that regular exercise has helped me manage depression better than any other thing has. To be clear, I am 100% not putting any of those other things down (in fact, I’m a huge believer in talk therapy for everyone), but building in a daily workout routine has made a dramatic impact for me personally, and it’s something I highly recommend to anyone struggling with depression and anxiety.

I actually was so surprised by how much it’s impacted me, that I read “Spark” by John J. Ratey and absolutely loved the deep dive into how exercise effects the brain. He really takes it to a true scientific study and lays how how and why it can be so affective. I am not going to pretend it’s a magic cure-all. Nothing is, and anyone telling you otherwise is lying, but it can have a huge impact, and can be so helpful with those struggles.

Confidence

This is major guys.

My husband once described me to someone as “the most insecure person in the world”, which was 100% true at the time. My confidence in myself has always seemed be in the negatives, and I struggled daily with the mental fight to feel confident. Then I started running. Okay, in the beginning it was more of a run 100 feet, walk 500 feet (you can read a little more about my journey here if you want) but I began to realize that I could do something I never thought possible.

That little bit of confidence I gained from running I took and decided to finally commit myself to also doing full workouts every day. I had tried to do exercise programs before, only to quit before day 3, but this time I was determined. I had already taught myself to run a 5k, and if I could do that, I figured I could probably do anything. So I did. I worked out every day for a month. Even when we were traveling and I had to do it on the floor next to our bed, I did it. And then I kept doing it.

Almost a year later I look back now and see how much that changed me. I’m not talking about physically (although that has happened too) I’m talking about mentally. Workouts have taught me every single day that even when something’s hard, I can do it. I can push thought and accomplish way more than I ever thought I could. Now when something is hard, or my brain tries to tell me I might fail, I remind myself I’ve done things so much harder. I’ve already accomplished this thing I would have never thought possible.

Alright, now get going!

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the idea that you need to workout just to look better. You look amazing, I already know it. You should workout because it will make your mind and body feel better, and work better together. It is such hard work, especially in the beginning, but make a rule to banish all negative talk during your workouts. Whether you workout for 5 minutes or an hour, it counts, and it’s awesome.