I don’t feel the same way today as I did yesterday. Or the day before. Or this time last week. Some days I feel social. Some days I feel solitary. Some days I feel energized. Other days I didn’t get enough sleep. Or I had too much caffeine. Fluctuations in my mood, energy level, and personal responsibilities for the day effect what I eat, when I go to bed, and how I spend my time. Yet, when it comes to exercise, society says to do the exact same thing, at the same time, on a regular basis. Well, if you’re anything like me, that approach is simply unsustainable.
If you’re like me, your body has different needs every day. You can’t predict what it will need tomorrow. You can only ask what it will need today. It’s not as if, left to my own devices, I’d always choose to sit on the couch and watch TV every day. Honestly! There are days when I genuinely want to exercise! But it’s not every day, and I can’t predict which day it will be. So, instead of committing to an exercise routine that doesn’t always cater to your needs, why not commit to having a conversation with your body every day? Substitute that time you’d set aside for an exercise routine that you can’t maintain, and use it for whatever your body needs TODAY. Given the flexibility, you may end up working out more in the long run.
One thing you’re going to need to pull this off is a well-equipped arsenal of different options to suit every whim of your temperamental body. You’ll need high intensity and low intensity workouts. Workouts that you can do indoors and outdoors. Workouts you can do alone, and classes you can take with others. You’ll need different workouts for your arms, your legs, and your back. You’ll need workouts that take 10 minutes and workouts that take 40 minutes.
This may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. My arsenal consists of: swimming laps in my apartment pool, going for a walk in my neighbourhood, going to a yoga class, doing a Pilates video at home, and, last but not least, doing laundry and cleaning my room. Yes, those DO count as exercise! Each of these options can be modified to accommodate low or high intensity workouts, and focus on different muscle groups. They can even be combined!
Although sitting on the couch and watching TV should never be off the table (some days it’s just what you need), the point of this approach is, after all, to exercise, so challenge yourself to do a little more. One great way to gauge how amendable your body is to exercise today is to do jumping jacks for 60 seconds and see how you feel immediately afterward. Did that kick start your dormant inner athlete or did it merely exacerbate a critical need to take it easy. Often that trial spike in your heart rate is enough to give you all the information you need.
The most important part of this approach is getting into the mind-set. If the exercise you chose isn’t working for you today, then stop. If none of the exercises in your arsenal are working for you today, ask yourself why and create a new option for next time. You might do the same exercise video every day for a year, and one day it just doesn’t do it for you anymore. That’s fine! Learn the difference between being physically tired because the exercise is working for you, and being bored because it’s not. Listen to your body. Give it a say in how you treat it, and it may start working with you and not against you.
By Tori Galatro
Tori is a freelance writer and blogger based in Austin, TX. She specializes in lifestyle, food, art and culture, film, child development, and personal finance. You can contact Tori on;