Offering Compassion During Different Seasons - Fitness Edition

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Flash back to 4 years ago: 2016.  I thought that THAT year was going to be one of the hardest years of my life.  We decided to sell our house while living in it with 2 little boys (ages 2 & 5 at the time) and a dog and buy a new house.  The housing market was hot, so the whole thing should have been easy.  We had a fabulous and amazing realtor – thanks Jennifer! – but luck was not on our side.  On the buying side of things, we made offer after offer on houses that lasted less than 24 hours on the market.  Over the course of 4 months we went under contract and walked away from 2 houses before finding our current home.  In the meantime, we also went under contract twice before selling our home.  To top it off, the eventual timing of things required us to move into a rental house for 3 weeks between houses and commute 1.5 hours in rush hour traffic to get to kindergarten, daycare, and work each morning and afternoon. We camped in the rental house.  Literally.  We unpacked what you’d take to the beach for a week and slept on mattresses on the floor.

During this eventful summer, I was also training for the Blue Ridge Relay and Toughman Tennessee.  Blue Ridge was incredibly hard and due to my fitness level, I was forced to walk more than I preferred.  My band width simply could not handle the training required to run more and honestly, though I was a little disappointed with my overall fitness, I was proud that I finished such a hard event after such a hard life season.  As my husband and I geared up for Toughman Tennessee 6 weeks later, we discussed our current fitness level, the amount of time we had left to train and decided that, while we could probably muscle through a 70.3, let’s not. I was dreading the race because I knew it was going to hurt more than necessary without the proper training.  We contacted the race director and changed our registration to compete as a team.  I ran and swam and my husband biked.  We had a blast and being compassionate with ourselves during this hard time was just what we needed to kick us into the next year with renewed enthusiasm rather than exhaustion.

Yeah, I thought 2016 was going to be the hardest year for a while, but here we are.  2020, you’re dishing it out like no other.  What did 2016 teach me about getting through now?

SELF COMPASSION

This season of life is INCREDIBLY hard.  Fear. Anger. Trust. Uncertainty. Exhaustion. Monotony coupled with excessive newness.  Depression.  Sadness.  Grief.  Humans don’t typically thrive during prolonged experiences with these emotions.  And, currently, we’re facing many of these stacked on top of each other on a daily basis.  Our brains and bodies are tired.  In times like these, compassion is the name of the game.

When it comes to exercise, if you are under a lot of stress, marathon or triathlon training or even weight loss goals are likely not be the best fit right now.  Offer yourself compassion by using movement to manage stress, rather than making your workout yet one more thing "you have to fit in today."  High intensity workouts and/or cardio over an hour stress your body’s bones, muscles, and hormonal systems.  With proper recovery and managed stress, these workouts/workout stresses are managed.  Ryan talks more about this in his post Chronic Cardio - How much is too much? Right now, stress is at an all-time high and it's time to offer self compassion when it comes to your exercise routine.

Looking for an example?  Here’s how I’ve offered myself compassion during this season and modified my fitness routine:

  • Pre #WFH2020 total exercise time during a maintenance block of training: 350+ minutes per week (~100 moderate intensity; ~250 vigorous). Current average exercise minutes per week:  280 minutes (~80 minutes of moderate intensity, ~200 minutes of vigorous)
  • Pre #WFH2020 workouts included: 2-3 runs per week of 3-6 miles, 2 rides per week of 20-25 miles, 2 swims per week, 2 strength training sessions, at least 1 actual yoga class, but yoga most days in some capacity (run warm up, cool down, mobility training, etc.) + teaching classes. Current workouts:  2-3 runs per week of 2-6 miles, daily walking, 1 ride per week, 1-3 strength sessions, almost daily yoga via YouTube + teach 1-2 virtual classes a week.

So I don’t bore you, I’ll stop here with my personal stats.  What I really want you to see are these 2 key things:

  1. My workout time is down and it’s not because I necessarily want it to be down, but it’s because I need it to be down. Days are long and time is short.  Recovery activities like sleep and down time are priorities.
  2. Swimming, biking, and running are down because I’ve swapped many of these workouts for walking and yoga due to necessity.  I need workouts to be restorative and energizing, not tiring and also exercise is often a family affair.

If you’ve been struggling with doing enough exercise, it’s time to offer yourself compassion!  Move to feel good.  If you’re not sure how to modify your training schedule to fit your current lifestyle, ask your trainer or coach for help.

My expertise lies in fitness, however, being generous with compassion is not just for workouts! Love and offer grace to your partner, children, family, friends, and coworkers.  We’re all processing the times based on our personal stories and this may look very different everyone.  With your interactions with others, be the light, or, as Kid President says

Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.

Are you offering self-compassion in your fitness routine or another area of your life right now?  Share below!

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About Author

Amanda Pack

Sr. Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator

Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Passionate about health and fitness, Amanda worked in the fitness and wellness industry for 6 years prior to joining the Recreation and Fitness Center team in 2011. At the RFC, she enjoys sharing her passion with the SAS Community through personal training, group exercise instruction, teaching yoga, and coaching recreational endurance athletes. A wife, working mother, triathlete, and yogini herself, wellness is an important theme in both her personal and professional life. Amanda is registered through Yoga Alliance as a 200 hour Yoga Teacher (E-RYT200), certified in personal training and group exercise instruction through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and is an IRONMAN Certified Coach.

2 Comments

  1. Hi, Amanda! Thanks so much for the article - compassion in all varieties is very important right now. I love to workout, but as often as once or twice a week I run into a "I don't want to" feeling. So I try to honor that by being curious and trying to find out why...sometimes I can figure it out and address it. If I can't figure it out, I use the time for meditation or some kind of slow yoga. That seems to help a lot. I also give myself permission to just try the exercise for five minutes, and if I want to quit, it is absolutely fine. Interestingly, I never want to quit after the five minutes.

    This is a hard time, no matter what you have going on. We need to be compassionate with ourselves and everyone we encounter. Thanks for the reminder!
    Diane

    • Amanda Pack

      Absolutely! I love that you're giving yourself permission to stop exercising after 5 minutes. What a great way to exercise self compassion!

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