Whenever I’m coming to the end of a writing project, be it big or small, I give myself a little incentive for finishing. It could be anything from jellybeans to a fun meal out to seeing a movie. I also often take a short rest in-between big projects, or if I’ve been working on a bunch of little stories for a lengthy period. Not only is my mood boosted by a mini-celebration of a completed draft, I also get some downtime to let my creative energies recharge so I can go into the next project stronger than ever.
Guess what? This is essential for your fitness and health too! Investing yourself in regular workouts and trying to focus on eating well and everything else involved in fitness can sometimes feel like a whole job in-and-of itself. Who knew being healthy could be so exhausting?
Taking the time to reward your progress as well as giving yourself time to rest are critical aspects of the whole fitness pursuit. Setting up rewards for achieving fitness goals is a great way to motivate yourself. Maybe it’s getting a two hour massage after running a marathon. Maybe it’s buying a book from your favorite author on setting a new bench press max. Maybe it’s a new outfit after losing those stubborn five pounds. Whatever the case, you’ve put in hard work to get there and deserve to be recognized for the effort, even if it’s just by yourself!
As for rest, it’s just as important as the actual exercise. When you’re working out, you are, in essence, breaking your body down. You’re causing damage to muscles, draining your energy stores, and burning through nutrients. You’re putting a lot of stress on yourself. Your body needs time to recover, replenish, and rebuild. Don’t fall prey to the idea that, “If working out a few times each week is good for me, then working out every single day of the week must be even better!”
No. That way lies exhaustion, injury, and plain old overtraining and burnout. While you can certainly adapt to being more active (a good thing), constantly beating down on your body with high stress workouts and never giving it a chance to recover will wear it out over time. Excessive training will not only create extra wear and tear on your joints but also grind on your nervous system, causing overall performance to suffer. You need to find a balance for your health’s sake.
If you reach a point where you like exercising more regularly, then try switching up what your workouts focus on. If you worked out your legs one day and want to hit the gym the next, swap out into some upper body work. If you do strength training another day, then alternate it with a run or swim.
Have you given yourself rewards for hitting fitness goals—or even for just making an effort where you hadn’t before? Do you give yourself the chance to rest and allow your body to recover?