Let’s be honest: Making room for self-care can be tough, and making room for a fitness routine can be even tougher. But at the end of the day, the two are inextricably linked. After all, don’t you get the same fuzzy-warm feeling from a leisurely hike as you do from buying a bouquet of flowers, making a healthy meal, or sleeping in on the weekend? I mean, it’s hard not to love that feel-good sensation that arises when you do something nice for yourself, regardless of how small the gesture is. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting started off on the right foot.
However, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for you is half the battle. And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s easy to latch on to a certain gesture, transforming it from a well-intention treat into a bad habit (read: lip balm and shoes are my kryptonite). But with a little bit of self awareness and due diligence, navigating your go-tos can feel natural, effortless, and fulfilling. Meaning, you can mix work with fitness, fitness with self-care, and self-care with work—and it doesn’t have to require a whole lot of effort on your part.
And as we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, fitness doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be as easy as taking a walk on your lunch break or waking up early to do some stair sets at the local stadium.
The key to success is simple: It’s important to stay true to yourself during this whole process. If you aren’t a morning person, don’t force yourself to wake up at the crack of dawn every day. Think of it this way—not only will it be an unsavory experience for you, but the odds of you maintaining that stride (so to speak) are pretty slim. So, do you and what’s best for you.
That being said, here are a few curated tips to help you integrate fitness into your daily routine. Also, we know that we don’t have all the answers, and if you feel as though we’ve left something out, just leave us a note!
Take the Pressure out of It
Regardless of where you fall on the fitness spectrum, how you move on a daily basis needs to be pressure-free. More specifically, don’t beat yourself up about not attaining a certain mileage or being unable to achieve a certain amount of steps in a day. Be kind to yourself, because every iota of effort matters, regardless of what you’ve achieved in the past.
Make a Commitment to Your Future Self
And modify as necessary. You know yourself better than anyone else, which means you know when you’re actually exhausted versus when you really just don’t want to get up and go out for a walk. Knowing the difference between the two is important, because it draws a line between injury and endurance (if you will). Listen to your body, trust your commitment, and don’t be afraid to give yourself a kick in the tush or take a chill pill if need be.
Use the Buddy System
This one is straightforward. As wonderful as those moments of solitude can be, it’s also nice to tackle a hike, run, or walk with a friend. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pals.
Admittedly, this is a bit of an ironic statement coming from me because when it comes to my life outside of work, I’m not much of a planner. I like having the freedom and flexibility to do what I want, when I want. So when I decided to start training for a half marathon, I got a little stressed out. Why? Because I was afraid of sacrificing that flexibility.
Despite my initial apprehension, creating a day-by-day game plan helped me navigate the lows and highs of the week: I would rearrange my longer runs to coincide with close-to-home workdays, or flip-flop rest days when I needed to. And once I got accustomed to planning ahead, the easier it was to make on-the-fly decisions.
Granted, how you plan ahead doesn’t have to emulate what I did. Simply assess what days you’d like to run, walk, hike, bike, or whatnot, and then look at your calendar (and the weather) to see what you’ve got in store. If you’re not sure where to start, give yourself a goal of walking for 30 minutes after work, for however many days you see fit. Or, make generic aims for the week: three days spent walking on your lunch break, two days spent running with your dogs, and so on. That way you can decide on a whim what days you want to run, walk, hike, or bike.
Meal prep is crucial. Food is fuel, and you can shave minutes off your morning or evening routine by doing a little extra legwork the night or day before. In turn, this allows you to spend more time taking care of yourself and use less time stressing about whether or not you’re going to have enough hours in the day to get your self-care in.
So, meal prep and planning ahead go hand-in-hand, but what exactly does that look like? Well, how you choose to meal prep is up to you: some folks like to pack a week’s worth of dinners and lunches on a Sunday, or, in my case, I pack my lunch and prep my breakfast the night before.
As I mentioned before, I like flexibility. I often buy foodstuffs that are nutritious, but versatile— meaning I can cook them in a variety of ways. Vegetables, oats, quinoa, eggs, coconut oil, sweet potatoes, and yogurt are some of my cupboard staples. I’m a big fan of overnight oats and veggie stir-fry. Speaking of dinner, last night’s leftovers? Well, it’s today’s lunch: I always make at least four servings so my husband and I both have lunch the following day. And I can’t stress this enough: get yourself some Tupperware or Pyrex for those leftovers.
Be Kind and Have Fun
This goes without saying, but sometimes we all need a little reminder. Not only that, but this quote from Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure sums everything up quite nicely: “be excellent to each other… . and party on, dude!”