Friends! I am thrilled to be featuring my first EVER guest blogger on here, with a message that's near and dear to my heart: embracing the seasons of your life + fitness.
Annie Miller is a badass who not only walks the walk but talks the talk. She knows her shit and I'm so excited to have her sharing some tidbits of wisdom with you today.
Life happens. You love to train. You are all about the grind. But what happens when life and
your training seasons aren’t meshing? Something’s gotta give. ALWAYS.
Your goal with training should always include being consistent and I am not referring to consistency with the type or intensity of that training. I’m taking about consistency in your ability to recover from, and reap the benefits of, that training.
Variety is also important in your training phases, and great way to determine that variety is to
look at your LIFE. No single program is the end all be all. Your results often are not dependent on the program written for you, rather how well you adhere to it. Which depends on what season of life you’re in, and so much more.
Now there's definitely value to "the grind" – hitting the gym when motivation fades, following a
program that you don’t LOVE because you’re working on weaknesses, and so on. But it's always important to also remember context.
Here are a few tips to help you figure out your current context and season when you're trying to decide between pushing hard and slowing down.
There seem to be three big determinants outside of any physicality that affect training consistency: time, stress + mental preparation
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Does this program match my current life situation?
2. Are you pregnant? Or trying? Do you need to back off the intensity just a bit?
3. Are you moving, or have another big change in your life? Do workouts need to be more
bodyweight based or require a less extensive warm up so you can get in and get out?
4. Is it a slower season of life where you can go hard and hit some new PR’s?
5. Where is my current stress level and where will it likely be for two months to follow?
Yes, exercise is both a stress reliever and a stressor to our bodies. If your stress level is on a
somewhat constant high for a season, your training needs to NOT be on a high. Or, stick to your
high intensity training, but maybe just 3 days a week with more aerobic work on or two other
days. This way your body is recovering from the high intensity STRESSFUL loads, rather than
jumping on that catabolic train to breakdown town.
This requires self-awareness. Do you know how to determine your stress level? Your current life
situation can have a lot to do with it. Thinking back to the most stressful times of your adult life can help you determine what type of seasons stress you out and increase those cortisol levels, which ultimately creates a negative training effect.
For me, I think of training during college finals, working two serious internships (that may as well been full time jobs for no pay – awesome experiences, not complaining, just analyzing) + working my two coaching jobs… training definitely did not fit that stress level.
Or, take my summer of 2016 for example. The hubs and I were on a two-week road trip around
the national parks. (If you live on the west coast and have not visited the main national
parks...YOU NEED TO, they are insanely beautiful.)
The road trip was a season itself. We took our kettle bells with us because I was not about to lose ALL the gains I made leading up to this two week adventure. We’d do a kettle bell and bodyweight circuit almost daily or go on a run (mixture of steady state and tempo work) #consistencyiskey.
When we were on the trip: 1. Our car got broken into, we had to get a new window – we drove from San Fran to Vegas (13 hours) with no back-seat passenger window. 2. I lost our camera that had all our photos from the first week 3. My husband proceeded to drop his phone in the Narrows River in Zion.
Despite all that I swear it really was a great trip. We got the winning phone call to top it all off about 1.5 hours away from home… wait for it… Our house had flood while we were gone.
Straight to living in hotels for 2.5 months we went...Glass half full perspective? We were
already packed! The next morning, I would enter choreography season for competitive cheer where I teach routines from 8am-4pm and then coach 5pm-8 or 9pm… Yes, the morning after we arrived, through the rest of the summer. Enter: Survival mode.
Moral of this story?
SEASONS sister, seasons. They aren’t always so extreme, but you better believe I had my gym
membership during those hotel days and it was rarely used. Why? Because my life and training seasons were not in any way cohesive. As a result, I was unable to remain consistent and had to alter the plan.
Remember consistency in training is the key for the long haul. But you cannot always be working on every aspect of fitness. Something has to take a back seat when you are building up another
system of the body or skill set.
So here are some tricks to follow:
- Your training intensity needs to be one you can recover from and reap the full benefits of.
- You need to be have the mental capacity to prepare for and perform well during the workouts.
- You NEED to identify seasons of life AND training…in case you missed it, THEY NEED TO MESH.
- Have a long-haul perspective - It is essential to be open to altering the plan! ( I had to drastically change my workouts during hotel life due to time and stress levels).
- Does the program allow you to be consistent?
- If altered, make sure it is still in line with your end goal, whatever that may be. You can take many paths to one end point.
I was serious about identifying what types of seasons stress you out and becoming more aware
of stress levels, and you should be too. Your seasons don’t have to derail you. In fact, they should make you a better athlete and hopefully a healthier human.
Rather than “falling off the wagon” or trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, be flexible with your training and just focus on consistency.