Diary Entry: What I learn from every workout
On the surface the benefits of a workout seem pretty straight forward. It helps us burn calories, increases our energy levels and improves our all round fitness. However, what I have learnt over years of training is that we learn something about ourselves from every single workout and the more we train the more it unveils. The lessons are not always positive it should be said, but they are all worth looking at as they will most certainly be connected to other areas of our life.
In the first instance, lets state the obvious by saying that completing a tough workout shows us what we are capable of. I cannot tell you how many times I did not think I was able to complete a workout, yet somehow found a way to make it to the end. This might seem both obvious and insignificant, but actually it demonstrates a variety of skills. It is about having the determination to persevere when feeling uncomfortable, a desire to finish what you started and the ability to find extra resolve when you did not think you had it! If any of you have been in this situation you will know that these workouts are the ones that give you the most satisfaction once it is all over, obviously! On finishing a workout like this, I normally feel as though there is nothing I cannot tackle that day. It has a positive impact on my mindset and my motivation for the rest of the day. However, on a bigger scale beyond that singular day, as this is a situation I conquer weekly, I believe it has an impact on the goals I set myself professionally and personally. It gives me the impetus and confidence to work harder, to dream bigger and to continually push myself. It might just seem like a workout on the surface, but it is a daily challenge conquered. In fact, I believe conquering any challenge daily would have this positive impact on our lives, not just physical challenges.
Conversely, however, there are the days when nothing goes to plan and my workout is not so successful! I do not hit the reps I wanted, I do not complete the level that I wanted or, worst of all, the workout did not even happen. What does that tell me? It depends. The reasons for it not going to plan can be varied and most of the time is something simple and perfectly justifiable, but again it is not about the workout it is about what impact this has on my day and on my mindset. I used to feel frustrated, annoyed and disappointed in myself when I did not hit the necessary targets, but I have learnt not to dwell on it. I now simply assess it and, if necessary, amend the parameters for the next week. A task that shows assessment, analysis, flexibility and patience. Tools that can be applied to any situation in our lives. Being able to successfully manage a negative situation and overcoming it is an important life lesson and one that we will all need to apply at some point to varying degrees.
However, as well as giving us the opportunity to grow and learn, these negative situations also give us the opportunity to give up and, for many, this is the chosen path especially when it comes to fitness! Giving up is the more negative side of our personality and, whilst negative, it is completely understandable. It is uncomfortable to constantly push ourselves, it is scary to get out of our comfort zone and exercise, in particular, can leave us feeling very exposed. This last point is not talked about very often, but I think it is crucial. No one wants to do something they are not good at and no one ever wants to feel as though they are at the bottom of the class. Yet, whilst it is understandable, you have to work through it and remember that everyone is a beginner at some point, plus these feelings are more of a reflection on your own perceptions and are very rarely based on reality. Your reaction to a bad day or week can say more about your personality than the good days. Can you overcome it or do you walk away from it and is this how you react to other new and difficult circumstances? If throwing in the towel is not your normal reaction then you need to assess why you are doing it now and try to overcome it. But, if giving up seems to be a pattern you are familiar with then you are severely holding yourself back and need to find a way to build confidence, discipline or whatever it may be that you think would help you stay on track.
I know many will read this and simply not believe that a workout, good or bad, can teach us anything, but when you work with as many people as I have you realise that their approach and reaction to their workout is the same as how they approach and react to most areas of their life or at least the parts where they feel out with their comfort zone.
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