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Working Out How You “Feel”

Working out is good for your health. Fitness helps you keep diseases away by increasing your immune response to bacteria and virus. A healthy body means it’s less likely to be overweight. Obesity is one of the largest, most prevalent diseases affecting Americans, with more than 40% rate according to the CDC. Increased fitness levels help your body react to inflammation and recover faster from injuries.

I work with many clients who are recovering from injuries. Many come to me specifically to rehab injuries. The body is a magnificent machine and is capable of many great things, and with the right guidance and strength training routine has the ability to come back stronger than it was before.

But first, you have to listen to your body.

Client One

A little background first. This client is intuitive. She is attached to her body and understands her body. This might sound a little “alternative”, but truth be told, we could all use a little alternative in our body. The ability to understand the intuition your body is giving you, from pain sensations to psychic-type feelings, is important. The more in-tune you are with your body, the better you can develop it, physically and mentally.

One day, I get a text from my client who has been taking a break from her workouts with me. She wanted to talk about setting up a new workout plan. She started taking time off for a while since the pandemic sent the world into a shelter-in-place. She has six kids at home, works from home and completed a few workouts with me virtually. I understood the need to take a break as we, as in the entire world, went into shut down mode. So, when I got the text from her, I was a little bit surprised, though not entirely surprised that she was ready to do something else, something more, get back to resistance training. It had been a few months since she had a full body resistance training workout.

Her goals were to get back to pre-COVID workouts, hopefully, without any pain. This client occasionally suffered from neck pain, shoulder pain, and low back pain. These three “pains” are pains I see on a regular basis with many clients. I understand her hesitation to get right back into her regular workouts. There is usually some rehab time required when getting back into a resistance training workout after experiencing pain. That’s where I come in as a certified personal trainer.

We discussed her hesitations, her goals, and what kind of plan we were going to set up for her. We talked about her current fitness levels and her current workouts. She was walking up to five miles a day, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. She was also doing plenty of stretching and yoga. She bought a treadmill since her daughter was home and wanted to workout too. She has her nutrition dialed in, and always had; so, this part was going to be easy for her.

The Class

Every Sunday, I take a look at the upcoming week. I look at the weather and what has been done over the last week or two to determine what I will be planning for the upcoming week’s workouts. I usually have one or two game plans that I utilize for the week. From there, I can make adjustments as needed based on the clients’ needs and how I might be feeling, too. I have learned that doing the workouts while teaching the class over the fans and trying to be loud enough for Facebook Live class to hear me is tough, and sometimes, we have to be flexible. I have been making adjustments more often lately, and between my personal training clients and the classes, I came up with the idea of working out how you feel.

Working Out How You Feel

Let’s rewind a couple of months. After the holidays, I had a hard time getting back to my regular workout routines, but I did, eventually, find my groove. Then, the pandemic shut everything down. I had wanted to increase my online presence and post more exercise videos. This was my opportunity to get online more – by default.

I kept my workouts on schedule for a couple of weeks while teaching all my clients over FaceTime or Facebook and running my evening classes on Facebook Live Monday through Thursday. Because of the shifted style of teaching, I found it necessary to do all the moves during the class for almost the entire duration of the class. During the first several weeks of this kind of activity, I got really tired. Then, it dawned on me. I was doing too much. I was wearing myself out. After this realization, I decided to cut back on my own workouts since I was doing all the workouts with the classes. I started feeling better and not so run down.

This is really where the “workout how you feel” came into origination, although I did not know it at the time. I started cutting back on my cardio workouts and only doing one or two hard, heavy resistance workouts during the week, mostly on the weekends when I wasn’t teaching. Occasionally, I found myself not wanting to do anything extra except walk my dogs. Then, my friends stepped in.

I would get the occasional text from one of my running buddies to get out for a run that week. Of course, at the time, I did not want to run. I wanted to wallow in the self-pity of not getting my workouts in and eating whatever I possibly could in the house. Stupid self-talk! But it was the current reality. In order to get out of the vulgar reality, I had to say yes to the runs. Well, the runs made me feel better and put be back on the path to the regular workouts.

Still, I was not fully committed to my typical workout schedule.

Then, I shifted my mindset. I changed the way I was looking at my workouts – how I approached the schedule, what my goals were going to be, how hard I was going to push myself in my workouts, and how was not going to judge myself.


Mindset: “An established set of attitudes.”

For three years, I set goals to compete in fitness competitions. The goal was to do better and better year over year. The training and the nutrition were rigorously followed for three years with a few months off each year. It was emotional, it was hard, it was rewarding. It was also exhausting. I thought I would do another competition this year, or at least sign up for a few running races. I signed up for and completed one race in January and signed up for another and planned to sign up for a half marathon in mid-summer. And then, COVID-19 sent us all into shelter.

The traditional way of doing things was no longer an option. I had to shift my mindset, the attitude I had toward my training goals. Once I got on the phone with “Client One”, I realized that this was what I had done. I gave myself some grace. I allowed myself to start working out how I ‘felt’ from day to day and from week to week.

Each week began to ‘feel’ better and better. Each week also offered new challenges as COVID fatigue settled in more and more. It became clear every week that all my clients were beginning to feel the same way I felt. What’s my point?

Every one of us has the ability to work out how we feel. The key is to listen to your body and listen to your emotions. Emotions can be altered through working out, for the good. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” ~Elle Woods, Legally Blonde.

Choosing to exercise how you “feel” allows you the ability to move freely through the workout you choose that day. For example, if you think about your upcoming week of workout plans, you might plan to do a leg day, an upper body day, and do cardio six days a week. As the week progresses, you get the good leg day in, but the rest of the week starts to dwindle as you deal with emotional stress of family and work. You manage to throw in a good upper body, but not quite as good as you wanted it to be. You got a few cardio sessions but nowhere near six days a week. The next week you plan to do the same thing, and hopefully, it will get back on track.

Although, life had other plans for you. The next week proves to be more of an emotional challenge than the week before. Instead of pushing through the plan, there is a shift to working out how you feel. How you feel is all about walking the dogs, yoga, and light weight lifting. The week turns for the better, emotionally. Working out how you feel gives you the much-needed workouts, the emotional lift, the stability in your life that keeps you on track.

Next time you try to push through a week of workouts that you just don’t feel, try changing your mindset to a workout that you do feel. Feeling good is the priority. Working out to improve your physical health to the detriment of your mental health is not the goal. Choose to work out the way you feel, and you will feel the reward of the workout times ten.

Smile! Working out is good for you. It's good for your health - physical, mental, and emotional.

~ Sara

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