Over the last couple of months I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with exercise, and crucially what I need to do to achieve my goals. Right now I'm working hard on building solid foundations for some big challenges next year and getting lots of rest. It isn't a particularly glam time, but it works for me, and crucially it's helping me get where I want to be. However, it's not been an easy road getting to a place where I have the confidence to do my own thing. We live in a world full of noise about 'pushing your limits' and the obsessive rhetoric around fitness can be stifling. With all that going on it can be easy to slip in to habits where you start overlooking your own goals and doing things because you think you should, not because they're helping you to get where you want to be! Or worse, you feeling guilty because you don't feel like you match up to those around you. So how do you avoid getting sucked into that vacuum and focus on being the best that you wanna be?
1. Get Support - I would be lost without support, and I am lucky enough to have a coach who keeps me focused on my own goals and encourages me to make choices that serve them. I appreciate coaching isn't an option for everyone, but finding someone you trust who can remind you of the bigger picture right when you need it most can be invaluable, whether it's your partner, best mate or even your Mum.
2. spring clean social media - I love Instagram, but I also make sure that I'm only following positive, realistic accounts that don't distract me from what I need to be doing for myself. Think about who you follow, does their approach to exercise align with your own? If it doesn't stop following them, and save yourself the risk of feeling guilty if you don't perceive you match up.
3. you do you - grab a notebook and a pen and write down not just your goals, but also why they are your goals. I remember ages ago I was at goal setting workshop where one of the facilitators said that the first time she wrote goals herself she put down 'run a half marathon'. Now she had no interest in running, she just wrote it down because she felt like she should, it was what everyone else was doing. Unsurprisingly she never achieved this goal! The process of achieving a goal should make you feel good, so challenge yourself and ask why you're saying you want to achieve what you've said you'll do. If you can't answer the question honestly, and with passion, bets are it shouldn't be your goal.
4. change your perception of rest - I remember listening to Chrissie Wellington talk about her transition to pro triathlete and her shock that much of her time was spent watching box sets when she wasn't training. However, when you think about it, it makes sense! Your body needs time to adapt to the changes it's going to, and to stay injury free you need to work slowly and allow lots of time to recover. While this can be harder than it sounds, I've found that by reframing rest as part of my training (and investing in a few good box sets to keep me busy) I've become much more comfortable with taking time out.
5. know the science - do you know why you're doing the exercises that you're doing? Learning about the theory behind the workout can be a great way to put your training into context, and stop the temptation of slipping off to do something that seems more exciting, glamorous or Instagram-able. Take the time to do your research, speak to your trainer or coach and understand how each move fits into the bigger picture.
Finally, choose not to feel guilty. Yeah you might miss a session. Yes you may not be drenched in sweat after a gym session. Heck, people may even question what it is exactly you are doing. But if you're true to yourself and your goals in the long run you'll achieve more than you could ever imagine.
** This post is in partnership with Pretty Little Thing and they provided me with this great outfit, but all opinions are my own