Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Part I: It's Okay, Go Ahead and Suffer a Little

            It seems to be a common thought that pain is the enemy – to be avoided at all cost.  We’d rather not make ourselves uncomfortable.  We’d rather not push into the zone of suffering.  That is, after all, just the human tendency.  I dare you to challenge that though.
            We all have things that we would like to change about ourselves.  Being at the Y everyday puts me in contact with many people who want to get into shape, lose weight, etc.  However, it seems that all-too-many think that just by being at the gym, or doing a little bit at a low intensity, will somehow make this happen.  For somebody just starting out, that can be a good way to begin, but then your body will start to adapt to the new stimulus and there will be a point of diminishing returns. 
Here’s when you need to start shaking things up.  Throwing in short stints of high-intensity can do wonders, whether that is with running, biking, swimming, or whatever you’re doing.  This should increase your heart rate, get you sweating, and challenge you physically and mentally.  You can build on this as you adapt.  Going hard should hurt (in a good way – always be attentive to your body for any oncoming injuries and do this with good form), and it seems that’s what some try to avoid.  It’s okay, though - go ahead and suffer a little (in fact, embrace it!), and you’ll discover that the rewards are great!
      As I said, it can be not only physically challenging, but also mentally challenging.  So here are some ways that you can get and stay motivated to stick with it:

1)    Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely)
2)    Write your goals down and post it where you can see it everyday.
3)    Write your workouts/training plan down.  If it’s in writing, it makes you a lot more dedicated.
4)    Don’t leave any room for excuses.  Make it a priority.
5)    Find a friend to workout with, or find another way to hold yourself accountable, perhaps by posting on social media what your plans are.
6)    Make it your routine/habit – motivation gets you start, habit keeps you going.
7)    Sign up for a race!

Another great thing about all that hard work is that you can reward yourself afterwards with a glass of low-fat chocolate milk.  After a frustrating spring/super-long winter, I finally got some amazing training rides in outdoors.  Did it hurt?  You bet!  But I feel like I’ve finally had some breakthroughs after a lot of frustrations and tears (yup, it really happened).  So I celebrated afterwards with a glass of cold chocolate milk.  Why?  Because after all that work, I knew I needed to refuel properly to reap the benefits of all that pain I put my body through.  Who knew chocolate milk could taste so good after a long, intense ride and run?!

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