Your motivation coach Anna Geary explains the role energy plays as we work towards our fitness goals, and how toxic influences can drain us of what we need to succeed
Here we are in week three of our Fit Summer series. Let’s take 30 seconds to check in with how we feel right now. Take out a piece of paper or answer out loud. It does make a difference when you have to consciously acknowledge your answers. How does your body feel? Your mind? Your mood? Overall, do you feel better? Dare I say, fitter? Do you feel more energised?
Many of us spend our days feeling perpetually exhausted, and often find it difficult to fully engage with any new fitness regime, even though we promised ourselves “this time would be different”. This can often lead to feeling guilty and dissatisfied.
Time is a finite resource and we all wish we had more of it, but the good news is we do have control over our energy management, which helps us to be more productive with the time we do have. We need to recognise the cost of energy-depleting behaviours and then take responsibility for changing them. However, we first need to identify what those behaviours are.
When it comes to our energy, what gets measured gets managed. Our energy is impacted by our exercise regimes and the foods that nourish our bodies. But also, it’s impacted by the thoughts that stimulate (or drain) our minds and even the people that surround us.
You need to tune into who and what helps or hinders your energy levels. Maybe working out three days in a row isn’t suitable for you. Maybe having a big breakfast works for you and maybe avoiding toxic conversations with a friend will serve you best right now. You have a responsibility to protect your energy levels. What are you currently doing to protect and refuel your energy stores?
Personally, exercising in the morning improves my energy levels (although I may not always agree when I am getting up early for a workout). Also, surrounding myself with positive people pushes me to chase my ambitions and goals.
The truth is, if you listened to everything everyone said in terms of what “you should do to improve your fitness”, you would be bombarded with contradictory information. Protect your energy by only taking advice from credible sources.
Just because something works for your sister or friend doesn’t mean it’s an effective way for you to see improvements. You also need to work with the body, mind and lifestyle that you currently have. This is where your mindset plays a part. Accepting the circumstances you are in and acknowledging where you are at is the first step to your “fit” lifestyle.
Trying to force your body to do things it did 10 years ago can lead to burnout, injury and frustration — and I am speaking from experience. There are some natural changes which occur in our bodies whether we like it or not, but we can make mindset, nutrition and movement-related changes to help balance and counteract them.
For example, as muscle mass and metabolic rate naturally decrease as we get older, maintaining a good level of protein intake at each meal can help to combat this. You may also need longer rest periods between workouts. Just because you have to approach things in a different way doesn’t mean you won’t get results.
Doing the same workout over and over again won’t lead to continuous improvements. If the demands on the body stay the same, it won’t need to make any new changes to progress.
To see increases in fitness, you need to regularly tweak things to make it more challenging. That can mean different things depending on what you want to achieve. It could be more workouts a week, lifting heavier weights, adding in more reps, less rest periods, or a faster pace.
Also boredom can set in if you keep repeating the same workouts, eating the same meals or living by the same routines. That’s when we can feel deflated and lacking the energy to sustain a fitness regime. As the saying goes, when it comes to feeling rejuvenated, often a change can be as good as a rest.
Whether it is eating healthier, getting more active, or trying to break a bad habit, it’s easier to do it if you have support.
Research has shown that people with a strong support circle are more successful at implementing and sustaining change than those who don’t. So be mindful of the people with whom you surround yourself. A top tip would be to find a buddy — an accountability partner. Whether that’s someone to train with, share meal ideas with, or even just to chat to when you hit a stumbling block.
Not everyone in your life can offer you the support you need. Don’t take it personally, it’s rarely anything to do with you. Perhaps they see your goals, determination and progress, and wish they were in your position.
If you are having a hard time creating your own support system, seek out external support groups. There are many online communities and of course we are now able to return to gyms again. It helps to talk through challenges and celebrate successes with other people on the same path. WhatsApp groups are also a great way to seek out encouragement, tips and motivation.
The 1pc improvements
Focus on the 1pc improvements. This is one of my core principles. We often strive for perfection when it comes to getting healthier and fitter. If we can’t do it perfectly, then we can be guilty of adopting the attitude of, ‘why bother?’
Focus instead on striving for progress. Let’s break down your day. There are 24 hours in a day, that’s 1,440 minutes. If you take 1pc of that, it equates to approximately 15 minutes. If you dedicated just 1pc of each day to reaching your goal, in a year that’s over 90 hours you have invested in achieving your goal. Imagine what you could do with 90 hours?
Fitness is not just about workouts. Flexibility and mobility are grossly underrated elements of becoming fit. They tend to get neglected by many of us. But without them, we’d be unable to do all our bodily movements. Flexibility is the ability of our muscles to lengthen. Mobility is our range of motion. Maintaining good levels of these is integral to keeping active and injury free. Even stretching for three minutes every day in different directions will have a positive impact — especially as you get older.