5 Things Your Fitness Journey Should Not Be

This article originally appeared on Oxygen

All of us have self-motivating beliefs that guide us through the world of exercise and keep us showing up in our fitness arena of choice. And just like anything else, our means of health and wellness should be ever-evolving. What your fitness looks like now should be different today compared with what it looked like five or ten years ago.

My 20-year-old self was doing a lot more cardio and a lot less of the basics, and I’ve leaned more into weightlifting over the years. Suffice to say, the path to my desired body looked a lot different then versus now. Much more than that has changed in the last decade, most notably the amount of time I have to dedicate to fitness, and that’s okay. Throughout that time, I’ve learned many lessons about what fitness is most certainly not.

Here are my top five things a fitness journey should not be:

1. Restrictive

Just because I want to do one type of exercise doesn’t make any other type off limits. I can do HIIT and also train for a 5k. I don’t think it’s ever healthy — mentally or physically — to put yourself in a box when it comes to fitness.

You can be a weightlifter and an endurance athlete. If running means you have time to catch up with a friend and talk about life in a way that feeds your soul, and weightlifting is a place for reflection and solitude, there should be room for all of that.

2. Comfortable

Let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I work with women everyday who spend years scared to get under a barbell. Then one day they finally work up the nerve to walk into a functional training gym and their lives are forever changed. You know what they always say? “I wish I’d done this sooner!”

You’re not going to love every medium of fitness that you try, but you should get out of your own way and try as many things as you can. Getting comfortable in our fitness routines removes the ability to grow and change and ultimately, get fitter.

3. Unrealistic or Not sustainable

There was a time when I used to be able to spend unlimited hours at the gym, and I enjoyed it. No longer does that work into my lifestyle nor is it something I necessarily want. I want to get in, get out, and get the most bang for my buck. That means no two-hour training programs, 6 days per week. I want to spend my time training efficiently for one hour, five days per week.

For me, that is what sustainability looks like. If you ask me to do more, I could pivot in the short term, depending on my goals, but it’s not likely I could sustain it. Ask yourself, what do you want exercise to look like? Is it a 30-minute virtual yoga session? A one-hour spinning class? A 45-minute tread boot camp? What works in your current lifestyle that promotes sustainability?

Step one: Figure that out, step two: Lean into it.

4. Unenjoyable

The worst kind of workout is the one that leaves you feeling worse off after the fact. It’s just exercise! If you find yourself in a place where you can’t stop beating yourself up over your performance or comparing to others in class, you might be in the wrong place.

You should feel lighter, better, and uplifted after riding those endorphins. So, if it’s people and places or if it’s the mode of exercise you are choosing, be honest with yourself about that. Reflect on what drives you and why you are doing this in the first place.

Along those same lines, if you’re only doing a certain type of exercise solely to get the body of your dreams as opposed to something you actually enjoy doing, we still have a problem, sister. Devoting time to activities you don’t like will not get you in better shape — it will just make you miserable.

5. Leaving You Sore ALL the Time

Soreness is a trophy of victory. So, don’t get me wrong — you should be sore sometimes. But working out so hard that you cannot get off the couch for the rest of the day, or feeling like you can’t walk up the stairs all the time is not a win. Either you’re not fueling your workouts well (aka: eating enough), you’re not recovering well (think: sleeping and hydrating), or you are simply overtraining. None of the above will get you closer to your goals any faster.

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