Fitness Focus: Balancing Self-Improvement and Self-Care

Is your New Year’s resolution still going strong? Are you still spending every spare moment improving your health and fitness? If so, congratulations to you. It’s hard to keep up the progress toward self-improvement long-term. For many of us, there comes a point where we push a little too hard and become burnt out. Even if you feel like you could keep at this rate for weeks to come, your progress may stall. When will you decide you want to give up?

Developing a fitness routine has become a cornerstone in the lives of many. For some, exercise has been a saving grace—a way of coping for those suffering from depression, anxiety or addiction. It can help refocus their lives as they strive for recovery. But as with anything in life, the benefit is limited if we start to overdo it.

How We Burn Out on Fitness

In our efforts to become better people, we may push our minds and bodies to their limits. Self-improvement requires insight into ourselves to see if there is something wrong. Maybe it’s that we are overweight, can’t run as far as we’d like, or that we rely too heavily on an addictive substance that’s ruining our lives. When we see room for improvement, we set goals and start an action plan of what we think would help us meet those goals. We may spend more time at the gym, improve our diets, or change our lifestyles, all in the name of personal fitness.

Over time, as we see improvements, it fuels us to push a little harder. We push and push until one day we notice that for some unknown reason the scale begins to tick in the wrong direction, or something happens to cause discomfort. Even something small that could be gut-wrenching and upsetting. Suddenly, we may realize how much time and energy we’ve spent focused on losing weight or gaining muscle mass. That tired feeling we’ve been pushing off is back and we decide to maybe skip the gym today. This is what burning out can feel like. It can mark the end of our progress for better fitness and self-improvement.

The Importance of Balancing Fitness with Self-Care

So how do we avoid burn out and sustain a fitness routine for the rest of our lives? The answer lies ultimately in our ability to love ourselves and care for our needs. Self-care is about taking a moment to pause. Appreciate who we are and what we’ve acheived. Instead of always striving for self-improvement and always pushing to be better, we can decide to reward ourselves for simply being who we are. Personal acts of self-care may include taking a day to get a massage, lounge in the spa, sleep in on a weekend, or meditate. If you enjoy meditating, consider finding a quiet space in your home where you can create your own meditation room. These acts of treating ourselves reward us with rest and relaxation can be just as motivating as “sticking your nose to the grindstone” with your fitness routine.

The key to finding the right balance between your fitness routine and self-care activities is by setting aside time for both. Perhaps you’ve already discovered your physical and mental limitations when you pushed yourself to be fit. Decide to never push yourself to do more than you can handle. Whenever you feel strained or discouraged, allow yourself a day or even a weekend to indulge in self-care.

By scheduling some self-care days throughout your calendar, you give yourself small pauses in your procession of self-improvement to reflect and catch your breath. Knowing that you have an upcoming day for self-care will help motivate you to keep pushing yourself in your fitness routine and prevent you from burning out along the way.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Posted 10-5-18 Blog article by Guest Contributer Shiela Olson.

She has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.