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Dealing with life, motivation and my 'fitness slump'

We all know we should exercise and hear about the benefits it has on your mental and physical health. Not only for now but also in the future, to hopefully help you live a longer, healthier and happier life. For some people, going to the gym, for a run or to a class is a regular part of their daily routine. For others, finding the time and predominantly the motivation to exercise can be a struggle. Trying to juggle work, family life and many other stresses that modern life presents, means exercise becomes less of a priority to make way for everything else.

Now I'm lucky in that I've been pretty active for most of life. From going a few dance classes a week from the age of 3, to training at a professional dance school 5 days per week for 8 hours a day for 4 years. Then transitioning into the fitness industry and Personal Training, I've always been on the move.

However, that does not mean I'm immune to feeling a lack of motivation. It has now been about a month since I completed the Edinburgh Marathon. An event that gave me motivation to train frequently because I wanted to finish the race with a time I was proud of. And quite rightly, apart from gentle stretching and moving, I gave myself about a week off from training to recover. But since then getting back into some sort of training has been a huge struggle for many reasons, which I imagine may be relatable for many of you reading this.

Firstly, I had no goal or reason to train. With the marathon and my years of dance training there was always an end goal in sight. Whether that was a performance, audition or just to be able to nail a certain move or piece of choreography. Since completing the marathon, I ended up being in a place where for the first time I did not have something I was aiming for. And I felt lost. I would end up going into the gym and just do 'stuff'. No plan, go from exercise to exercise fairly aimlessly trying to maintain my general level of fitness. Which for someone who likes to always have a plan or a purpose to what I do, this was frustrating as I felt unable to get myself going again.

Secondly, LIFE HAPPENED. I've had a few major changes happen in my personal life which made exercise go down in my list of priorities. Days where I though smashing out a leg workout would help distract me, would work in the complete opposite way. I'd do 10 minutes, then walk out the gym because I was too stressed about everything else I had to do or get on with. I did find that sometimes running helped clear my head, but overall the emotional stress of what I was going through was a massive barrier to what my normal exercise routine would include.

Now I'm slowly getting back to 'normal' in terms of managing my work/life/exercise balance. I know that my fitness levels are not quite where I want them to be. I have started to regain some motivation to help push me forwards. Knowing that I have felt fitter and stronger in the past helps remind me that I have done it before and I can do it again. And that I am capable to progress even further beyond that!

So, if like me you know you should or want to exercise more but are lacking some motivation and struggling to fit it in, try out some of these pointers to help.

1. Set a goal and make it S.M.A.R.T - One of the most important points on this list. Making your goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realtistic and within a Time frame, will help make you more accountable and likely to stick with it. This could be anything from aiming to lose a dress size by a certain date, signing up for a 10k race or to be able to deadlift 100kg in the gym. Have something to aim for and you will make yourself proud when you reach that goal!

2. Do it for you - Being fit and healthy should be about wanting to be the happiest, most confident and healthiest version of yourself. If you are getting into exercise because somebody said you are too fat, heavy or unfit that is in no way going to help you feel good about yourself. Yes, take advice and inspiration from people who you admire and respect, but ultimately doing it for you is going to get you the best results.

3. Ease yourself in - If you currently do very little or no activity, don't feel the need to go 100mph straight away. Start with a few days per week with what ever amount of time you feel you can commit to. This could be 10 minutes while you get used to introducing yourself to a new routine. As it becomes more familiar and your confidence develops in what ever form of exercise you choose to do, then start building up from there.

4. Schedule it in - If you are looking for an excuse to not exercise, you will find it. Check you diary or calendar and find a time where you know you won't be easily distracted. That 15 minutes where you scroll through your instagram feed in the morning could be the perfect time to do a quick HIIT workout in your living room. If your mornings are always busy, make time in the evenings and vice versa. If you plan on going to the gym after work, take your gym kit with you so you can go straight away rather than going home and be distracted by the TV and that oh so comfy sofa.

5. Don't beat yourself up - As I mentioned, life happens and don't feel pressure to be 100% on top of everything all the time. If life and work is already presenting too many challenges then adding exercise will only add to the stress. Don't force yourself to do it or don't feel bad about it. Once things have become more settled or you have more control over the situation, then let yourself get back into things at your own pace.

Eilidh Brown

Simply Moving Personal Training

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