Fitness Funk? Find your Focus

Posted Jan 10 2012, 9:51 am in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s the second week in January which means millions of people across the world have revved up their exercise routines and the gyms are packed to the rafters.

People are excited about exercise again. Their goals have been redefined and they’re raring to go.

So why was it that I found myself firmly in the middle of a full on fitness funk?

Yesterday, figured it out…

Over the years, I’ve discovered one very important fact about myself. I am goal oriented. Give me a goal, and I will achieve it. (or make a really valiant effort) I need to see a finish line, a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t do well with generalizations like, ‘get in shape’. What does that even mean? I need something to shoot for. In the past that’s usually been a race. I’ve trained for first a 5km, then a 10km, then a 1/2 marathon, then a triathlon. If I’ve signed up for something, committed to doing it, I’m going to do it.

The problem is, I currently don’t have a race to train for. My next race isn’t until the end of May which gives me way too much time to make excuses. Over the last month I found myself unmotivated, quick to make excuses, and feeling generally ‘blah’ about the whole thing.

And then yesterday, two things happened.

1) I went for a run. This in of itself is not unusual. But on yesterday’s run with my training buddy and bestie, something shifted in my brain. We were talking about goals and how neither of us had a Holy Shit goal this year. I was blaming my lack of goal setting for my general apathy towards exercise and then I realized, Wait a minute. Why do I NEED a new and different goal? I love running. So why not focus on that? Do what I love.” And knowing me and my oh so slightly competitive nature, I’ll do everything I can to create a new personal best in the process (hey, I am who I am) But the whole thing was such a basic concept, but one I couldn’t see because it was too close.  My first lightbulb moment of the day – Focus on doing what I love. And love doing it.

2) Later that night, I went to hot yoga with another fabulous bestie. Because of Christmas craziness it had been almost a month since I’d been to class. I missed it. I’d been looking forward to it all day. At the beginning of the practice the instructor/yogi, tells us to set an intention. It can be a spiritual or physical intention. Whatever you need. My intention was to just be there in the moment (this is difficult for me as my mind wanders…a lot!) and to refocus on my body to rediscover my fitness mojo. The Yogi we had for last nights class is tough. She challenges our bodies and our minds and after four weeks off, both my mind and body got exactly the workout they needed! Somewhere between high plank, downward dog and frog (ow!) something clicked for me. My second lightbulb moment  of the day – Focus both on what my body AND my mind need.

Such simple concepts, but I’d lost sight of them. Sure, exercise is good for the body. Yes, I need it to stay healthy. BUT, my mind needs it too. I have a tendency to get wrapped up in my thoughts, overwhelmed by day to day life and the voices characters in my head. Exercise clears that out for me. It’s me time. Time for me to connect with myself and leave everything else behind.

I woke up this morning feeling good (and yes, a bit sore). But I’m ready to focus on what my body and mind need and I’m going to love doing it! And if it doesn’t fit that very simple criteria…it’s out.

How about you? Any light bulb moments when it comes to your exercise/fitness routine? Why do you do the activities you do?

Photo credits to lululemon athletica



16 responses to “Fitness Funk? Find your Focus”

  1. Two epiphanies in one day? The kids must be back in school! 😉

    I weighed myself yesterday. I know we’re not supposed to focus the numbers (and I’m actually pretty good at this), but when I’m owning my body, I check in once every week or two by stepping on a scale. It keeps me from denying that what I put in my body has an effect on it.

    It was a step. Scheduling exercise is my next step. I need to schedule it, or it won’t happen.

    By the way, I love that you love yoga!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Oh you know the kids are back!
      I also check in with myself. Keeps me accountable. The key is to not let that little number rule you. Been there, done that. Hated it!
      Scheduling it in…SO important. Especially with a super-busy-mom-extraordinaire like yourself.
      And yes…I love yoga. SO much!
      You were a big part of the nudge that got me to try it. 🙂

  2. Excellent epiphanies! If you’re doing something you don’t love, then you’ll eventually resent it and that’s not good. I’ve never tried hot yoga, but I hear it’s great. hmmm, I might have to brave the wilds and give it a try.

    I think I read somewhere that if you engage your mind in what your body is doing (running, yoga, weights, etc…) then the benefits are doubled. Something like that, but basically saying what you said ~ keep the mind and body focused.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      You must try hot yoga! I resisted yoga for SO long and I can’t believe how much time I wasted! I also agree that when your mind is engaged, everything’s better!

  3. Oh, yes, when I’m running I always have those light bulbs moments. (And, then, I usually forget b/c my memory is so bad w/o paper and pen. lol) Exercise clears my mind and makes me really think.

    I am training for my first 10K and then, maybe, my first 1/2 marathon. I’m not like you though, I don’t always achieve the fitness goals I set out to do. (I DID achieve my fitness goals for 2011 though – a first, Yeah!) I’ll have to follow your progress to keep me focused for 2012. 🙂

    Btw, I’m reading Drawing Free and loving it. 🙂

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Congrats on achieving your goals for 2011! And yay got tackling the 10km! You’ll do great! You absolutely can and will accomplish your goals!!
      Oh, and thanks for reading Drawing Free! I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think.

  4. Naomi Bulger says:

    Hmm, I need an epiphany like this. I’m an “all or nothing” exerciser (ok, “all or nothing” in pretty much every aspect of my life). Last year I was just telling myself “NOW is the time to go all-out on fitness” when I fell pregnant. Now it’s unsafe for me to pursue those original goals, and I find I’ve lost my fitness mojo. How do you find a new zone when the old zone you loved so much is unsafe? I’ll let you know if I find out 🙂

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Oh that’s tough! But… I’m sure you can find something that keeps your body and mind engaged. Although…. I was pretty much the least fit person EVER before I got pregnant and then it just got worse before it got better. That being said, I was a very different person then.
      I have faith that you’ll find something. Most importantly, you must be true to you and what’s working for you at any given time in your life,

  5. Annie says:

    I have to have a goal, too. But it can be a daily goal…it doesn’t have to be a 10k or anything. I feel so much better when I work out so I schedule it in as a “Must Do”. I must get an hour in everyday. I usually set the schedule for the week on Sunday night, so I can work around the other stuff in my life.

    I’m in love with yoga right now. I can’t miss that. 🙂

    • Elena Aitken says:

      I really like the idea of a daily goal! I’m like you, I have to schedule it or it doesn’t get done.
      And yes…. Yoga. It’s my MUST right now!

  6. Rebecca Stanfel says:

    I love this. Yay for you for letting the simple truths in. It’s so easy to forget about why we do things and complicate the process of doing the things we love. I’m good at complicating writing and exercise–two of my oldest loves. I love the idea of simplifying, of getting back to “I’m going to do this because I love it.”

    Thanks for clarity.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      It’s such a simple concept, isn’t it?! Almost too simple! Just do it cause you love it! Thanks for your lovely comment

  7. LOVE that! Two very simple concepts that I will take to heart as well. A friend of mine and I were talking at length about our eating healthy goals and trying to find analogies that would keep us motivated. We were talking about trying to change the way we view food – instead of seeing it as a treat, pleasurable, or social event – start to look at it as fuel for the body. Would you put regular or dirty gas in your premium sports car? Hell no – you’d put premium, top of the line fuel in that bad boy to get peak performance and to keep her running in top shape! Our bodies are the exact same. That analogy helped both of us change our perspective and is helping us stay focused! Woot woot!

  8. gingercalem says:

    You know I love this post! 😉 I have a friend who’s been inviting me to bikram yoga for a while and I never seem to make a point to go. I really want to try it. Yoga is such a great example of connecting the mind and body. As odd as it will seem, so is weightlifting, specifically, olympic weightlifting because it’s so technical. It’s this intense combination of technical skills, control and aggressive speed all at the same time. I love it!

    I can’t wait for your blog you can meet your goal of surpassing your personal best! At which point, you can set the ‘next’ goal. Love it!!!

  9. Tammy says:

    You do amazing things when you set goals for yourself! 5 yrs ago you never would have thought any of these things possible.

    Yoga has been so good for me! I too have trouble getting my mind to stop going in several different directions. It has taken quite a few classes but I am getting better at just focusing on being in the class and enjoying ever moment.

    I have not been good with goals for me. I’ve spent years trying to go with the goals of the people around me. It gave me someone to work out with and to share these things with but it cost me a huge chunk of my self esteem and left me continually disappointed with the outcome.

    This past fall I started to learn how to work out on my own. To be accountable to me & not to depend on other people for that. I’ve learned to set realistic goals for myself and to be proud of what this body lets me do. This is still a major work in progress but I take it one day at a time.

    Good luck with your 2012 goals & continuing to focus on body & mind!!

  10. […] you struggled with finding motivation for your fitness/exercise routine? Elena Aitken had two fantastic “aha” moments that might help motivate […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts