…and How to Keep Them Balanced
When you think about what the perfect fitness routine should be, you probably imagine a few characteristics: consistent, well-planned, varied, challenging. However, chances are you don’t think about how it fits in with your overall self-care. Physical fitness is an important part of taking care of your body and mind, but in order to be truly effective and beneficial, it needs to complement other elements to form a cohesive self-care regimen.
You probably know what you eat affects your fitness routine, especially if you are following a particular diet plan such as the low carb, high fat ketogenic diet. Certain foods will help you turn fat into fuel and get the results you need at the gym, while others will just make you lethargic and less likely to push yourself. Eating a balanced and nutritious keto diet is just as important to your health as exercising regularly.
Of course, it’s not just about food. Everything you put in your body has the potential to either improve or impede your well-being. Too much alcohol, caffeine, or sugar can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health. Try replacing your nightly cocktail with a low-carb mocktail. Instead of that third cup of coffee, try green tea (organic blends are available for under $4). Satisfy your sugar craving with a naturally sweet coconut milk smoothie. And instead of a diet soda or energy drink when you’re feeling sluggish, consider a natural, energy-boosting supplement. These simple swaps can make a big difference in how you feel.
Exercising can be a big stress reliever. When you get into the groove of a workout, all the bad parts of your day can disappear from your mind. Scientifically speaking, endorphins are released during exercise, which create that feel-good effect known as “runner’s high.”
On the other hand, chronic stress can actually prevent you from performing well during a workout. If you’re experiencing muscle tension and fatigue that are resulting in ineffective workouts, then you should find ways to reduce that stress. Little changes, such as practicing meditation for five minutes a day or making time to do things you love, can really help. If going to the gym stresses you out, create one of your own at home by investing in your favorite workout equipment. A handyman can add necessary installations to it, like electrical outlets, flooring, a ceiling fan, and a pull-up bar. It costs an average of $159-$539 to hire this service in Costa Mesa.
It makes sense to assume that fitness helps you sleep better, as anyone who has ever collapsed into their bed after a workout can attest. However, the link between sleep and exercise is more complicated than that. Although exercise does improve sleep, it does so slowly and in the long run. According to The New York Times, regular exercise over an extended period of time changes the body’s stress response, which eventually allows people to fall asleep faster.
In the short-term, it’s the opposite: Your sleep is more likely to affect your fitness routine. Poor sleep will make you worse at your workouts or make you skip them entirely — so focus on getting enough high-quality sleep every night. The importance of this goes way beyond improving your exercise routine, though. Good sleep is crucial for good health, and bad sleep affects your physical and mental well-being in a variety of complex ways.
When you’re invested in a fitness routine, it’s easy to let other pastimes fall to the wayside. In some cases, this is a good thing. After all, the less time you spend in front of the TV, the better. However, many people will start completely neglecting relaxation and downtime in favor of constant exercising. This can have disastrous health effects and is perhaps the biggest danger when allowing fitness to become a dominant part of your life.
But, isn’t exercise a form of relaxation in itself? Well, it’s true that exercise relaxes you when practiced in moderation, and its impact on mental health is well-proven. However, over-exercising can reverse these benefits through several negative side effects. According to US News, these include mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, as well as physical symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, and even fat gain.
Your downtime is important for your mental well-being, so make sure to balance your free time between working out and other hobbies. The best activities — especially creative ones — for self-care are those that relax you but aren’t just passive forms of entertainment (like TV or social media). Some people also look for supplements to help them relax and recuperate; for example, CBD oils can help with soreness, anxiety, and stress, though it’s important to speak with your doctor and look at online reviews to see which dosage/brand works best.
Self-care is a complex matter, made up of several interconnected habits and behaviors that all affect each other. Focusing on fitness alone is not the most productive way to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and it’s not even the best way to achieve your fitness goals. A holistic approach to your health will help you feel supported in all areas, which will, in turn, keep you on track while getting fit.
About the Author: Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy and encourage her clients to stay positive. She incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions.