Yesterday evening I had a great gym session. I didn’t hit any PBs, I didn’t push myself to my absolute limit and I didn’t try anything new. There was a time when I would feel like I hadn’t done a proper workout if I hadn’t pushed myself to the max. Now I’m happy with pushing myself when I feel like it, and as much as I want to. I think there’s a lot of pressure, particularly on social media, for us to always be pushing ourselves to the next level, and I don’t think this is necessarily a good thing.
A lot of people are surprised when they ask me what my fitness ‘goals’ are and I go blank. I try to think of a goal, something impressive – surely there’s something I’m training for? In reality, I don’t have one. I train because I like to feel strong, fit and capable, because I enjoy doing it and I like to challenge myself. I want to maintain, possibly improve, my level of fitness.
Some people are only motivated to train by their goals, whether it’s for aesthetic reasons, for an event or competition, or something else. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a goal, especially if it’s what motivates you to move. But I do think it’s wrong to imply that everyone should always have a goal.
Exercising isn’t just about improving – it’s also about feeling good, it’s about celebrating the fact that you can move your body. For me it’s a chance to clear my mind, de-stress and to focus on myself. It’s my selfish time. As I’ve already mentioned, I do like to challenge myself and try new things, and sometimes I do train with a goal in mind. But in general, I listen to my body. I push it when I feel like it needs to be pushed.
Another issue is that there is also a huge pressure to train and to look a certain way, again largely thanks to social media. In the end, this is irrelevant – train in the way that you want to. It will be much more enjoyable and sustainable.
I think we all need to tune in to our bodies more. If you’re low on energy and you still complete a workout, well done you – you got moving even when you didn’t want to. If you’re feeling energetic and you gain a PB – again, well done you. These are both achievements and I don’t think the latter is necessarily better. I think it depends on you, as a person.
Clearly all of my Headspace meditation has been paying off, as I have noticed that I’ve been thinking and behaving in a much more mindful way recently. I believe it’s important to establish and focus on that mind-body connection with every action performed – something that yoga in particular is brilliant for.
Thank you for reading.