I’m the kind of person who takes goals so literally that I can invest every ounce of who I am into them. I grew up accelerated in every academic pursuit, juggling athletics with a chaotic home life: high school by day, college by night and a tutor who taught Latin and Shakespeare to boot. The road to crazy town. I have this vision of adding more and more juice to a train that’s way past controllable, everybody cheering its feat of speed as it goes skidding off the tracks.
We all have them, you know. Tracks, limits, a healthy middle ground that if we push for too long will burn us out, injure us, cause us to bite back against people that we care about or life in general. If I believe in something, I don’t need extra prodding to go after it and dedicate every resource to it. I began self-destructing when other people’s desires added too much fuel to my already hot fire. I had to learn the hard way when to reign myself in.
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Understanding Limits and the Drive
Limits: they suck, right? Do you want to believe in less of yourself? I don’t. But I also don’t want to spend many days sitting on the bench, unable to get back in the game. You may look around at people who don’t seem to care much about the outcome of their training. They try this, try that. They dabble. You’re serious. You’re the guy that will hit the road seven days a week without taking a vacation. The gal who doesn’t look back.
It’s true that many people aren’t giving it their all. Being one who is self-motivated, experiencing the feeling of apathy around me can actually make me drive harder and harder. Be warned that this attitude could be carried out into over-training. If you haven’t been thrown for a loop big enough to redirect your course, you might not see the benefit of setting limits yet. If you think you can always break through the pain barrier or that nothing can stop you, limits just might not be your thing. But how does that play out for you in the long term?
If you want to keep your train from derailing, here are some big areas to watch out for:
- Nagging Pain: Don’t let every tiny strain get between you and your goals, but if you are experiencing a shift in your daily activities as a result of pain you’re ignoring, address it.
- Fatigue: A blowout day of activity will leave your eyes heavy and body drooping. It’s normal to experience fatigue that leads to sound sleep those days. Chronic fatigue is a sign of not recovering. You shouldn’t wake tired every morning then applaud your ability to still go after your activities and responsibilities.
- Obsessing over Goals: Have you ever felt chagrin at the inability to drive forward, the feeling of being stalemated? People who are goal-oriented make the world go-round. Being balanced means knowing when to set the goal down and take a break. Don’t let it turn your head into a funny farm.
- Lack of Desire: If you are a naturally driven person who finds yourself unable to care, it’s a sign that something is out-of-whack. Don’t let that go unchecked and become lethargy, dissatisfaction or depression.
- Reckless Abandon: I love to see a client determined not to be broken. I flourish when I’m killing a climb that’s better than me. Where do you draw the line between refusing to be beaten, and jeopardizing your own sanity in order to preserve your pride?
If you’ve recognized some of these tendencies in yourself and don’t want your own training to turn into a nightmare, start now by setting smaller, manageable limits. I look at it as investing in myself. Sure, I won’t experience all of my power and ability right this second, but when I really need to make a withdrawal from my account, I won’t be zeroed out. I have the resources to tackle tougher times because I’ve saved up for them.
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Guiding your Training Toward Balance
Here are a few tips for guiding your training toward balance so that you don’t wake up on the train to Crazy-ville:
- Healthy Workout Times: I recommend programming your scheduled sessions for goal-specific desires, then letting the rest of your time be “play.” Find a recreation that you are passionate about and get into it. Your body won’t perceive play as punishment, your mind will find release, rather than plugging into another obligation. All in all, it will help you rock your workouts and love your time inside and outside of them.
- Listen to your own voice: If something outside of you causes you to feel excessive pressure to achieve, then politely decline. If you check your motivations and that goal isn’t intrinsic, then put it on the shelf until it’s something you want for you.
- Routines: If you love goals, then you could have a nature that thrives on consistency. Scheduling your workouts at the same time of day and same days of the week, while allowing flexibility for something unexpected, will help you to feel like you are still in control. If you lose consistency, you might lose connection to the very goals that help you feel empowered.
- Schedule time off: Be just as strong resting, as you are when you’re “on.” This is difficult to assimilate because doing nothing feels, you know, like NOTHING. When our downtime is as successful as the rest of the day, stress levels decrease and self-empowerment increases.
- Deal: Some things really are what they are. And sadly, they’re outside of our control. If it isn’t something that you can functionally change, then invest your time and attitude in what you can and honestly find peace with that action. Let the rest be what it is.
Over-training is a real problem I’m seeing more and more often. You work out because you love your body. Love it enough to say ‘no’ today before it screams “No” tomorrow.
Stronger U Fitness
Kristi has written for us once before, and you can find it here: The “Inner Game”.
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