Becoming Mindful

How changing the way you workout can have an impact on your results.

One of the most successful strategies I have used with my students and clients, who are regular exercisers but not seeing results they want, is to encourage them to embrace a more mindful approach with their exercises and fitness routines. By mindful, I don’t just mean trying to be more present, more in the moment, more breathing. 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, Tuesday, Saturday, etc… year after year. Yet, when I hear from many of my students, a similar story like  “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”.  I start to understand why they aren’t seeing results.

The type of exercise doesn’t really matter, it is more the emphasis on a routine that people are following month after month without getting the results they are looking for. I hear all of the time that people find a fitness routine that works with their schedule or they have a list of favorite instructors that they like to go to. They will stay with this exact routine for a long time, even if they are not seeing results or even if it is not necessarily making them feel good.

One of the reasons they are not seeing the results that they want, even if they exercise regularly, is that they might not be giving their body 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. They will often follow 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 that push their bodies through intense routines that can lead to more stress on the body. Constant stress keeps people living in that “fight or flight” state, which can cause an increase in cortisol levels. Over time, this can lead to an increase in weight gain and fat storage. We want the opposite from our exercise!

One of the easiest ways to combat having your workout 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 to fueling your body with all the healthy benefits of movement. Use 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 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. Or maybe skip that extra hour of back and forth to a gym or studio by streaming your workout at home. You’ll get to use that time for more sleep, which might be better for you that day. Saving your intense workouts for weekends, when you have fewer demands, might boost the energy you bring to the workout, and therefore increase results. I have seen in myself and others transformations physically, increased energy levels, and a heightened sense of joy towards exercise, just by shifting from being routine driven to being more mindful about movement.

Jessica Lajoinie is a  Carbon38 #Team38 Trainer and a barre instructor at Equinox and Asana Charleston. Find her on Instagram and Facebook, and use her #Team38 personal link or code JESSICADIA50 for her discount when you shop Carbon38.

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