One of the most successful strategies I have been using with my students and clients who are already regular exercisers, but not seeing results they want is by encouraging them to embrace more mindful approach to their exercises and fitness routines. By mindful, I don’t just mean trying to be more present, more in the moment, more breathing, but this is more about incorporating the same type of balanced approach to exercise that most people do with their eating habits. For example, most people don’t eat the same foods every Monday, every Tuesday, every Saturday etc. etc.. year after year. Yet, when I hear from many of my students, I often hear a similar story like this “I spin on Mondays and Wednesdays, boot camp Tuesdays, Barre on Fridays, and Yoga on Saturdays. This has been my cross-training schedule for 5-10 years”. The type of exercises doesn’t really matter, it is the more the emphasis on a routine that people are following month after month without getting the results they are looking for. I hear this all of the time that people find a fitness routine that fits their schedule or a list of favorite instructors they follow, and they will stay with this exact plan for a long time, even if they are not seeing the results that they want, and even if it is not necessarily making them feel good.
One of the reasons these regular exercises are not seeing the results that they want is that they might not be giving their bodies what it really needs. Their well-intentioned workout routines might be working against them. For example, some of the women I talk to are balancing successful and demanding careers, families, trying to have a social life, and of course their commitment to staying healthy by following their very structured workout routines which typically include intense cardio workouts either very early in the morning or late after work. These women are already managing a whole list of daily stressors, scrambling to fit in workouts and then pushing their bodies through intense routines can lead to more stress on the body. Constant stress keeps people living in that “fight or flight” state, which causes increases in cortisol levels, which over time can cause increase weight gain and fat storage. We want the opposite from our exercise!
One of the easiest ways to combat having your workouts add more stress is to be more mindful and more intentional with what you are doing daily. Try to shift your mindset from just following a standard routine, but more about fueling your body withal the healthy benefits of movement with the same varied approach you would with food. Each day that you plan to move your body, try to be more aware of how you are feeling and try to match the intensity and type of exercises to what your body needs. If you had a stressful day, maybe a yoga or meditation class would be best for you. Maybe skipping that extra hour of back and forth to a gym or studio, and streaming your workout at home, so you get use that time for more sleep might be the best workout for you that day. Saving your intense workouts for weekends, when you have less demands on you, might boost the energy you bring to the workout, and therefor increase results. I have seen in myself and others transformations physically, increased energy levels, and heighten sense of joy towards exercise, just by shifting their fitness from routine driven to being more mindful about movement.