One question I often get is: “Ines, what do you do, when you don’t feel like working out?“
Before I answer the question, you must understand that every state is simply the way our body talks to us, i.e. our states are the body’s language. To me each and every emotion and state are simply a conscious feeling of invisible biological processes. In other words, everything we feel happens in the body first and the sensation we get is only trying to draw our attention to the reason. This is also true of “I don’t feel like working out”. Before we decide what to do, we need to understand what the reason is, because every reason leads to a different course of action.
One of the frequent reasons we don’t feel like working out is overtraining. I invented that. I am so keen on movement in its various forms that I sometimes overdo it. For a person like me who is always enthusiastic about going for a walk, climbing Cherni Vrah for time or swimming for an hour or two, not feeling like exercising is an indication that something is wrong. It is usually due to overdoing the physical activity and to my body’s attempts to stop me. At times like this, the feeling of laziness, fatigue, the reluctance for physical activity are the body’s tools for making us take a break. By the way, years ago a person drew my attention to depression. Many people fight it, but in most cases the emotions we feel in a period like this can simply be a signal from the body that it has reached its limit and has become exhausted. It needs rest and something different that can restore it. This is also the case with working out. We don’t have to force ourselves and work out. We would overcome this condition much more quickly, if we just took a short break to recover.
At a time like this the best we can do for our body is to take care of it. We can spare 15 minutes for sauna. Sauna is quite inexpensive and works miracles to help us relax our muscles and unwind. Naturally, you shouldn’t forget to drink enough water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to replenish your electrolytes.
At a time like this massage always helps and you don’t have to be spoiled to have a massage now and then and give yourself an hour to relax your body.
And last, but not least, the other thing that always helps are contrast showers – alternating cold and hot water. This allows more blood to get to the muscles and speeds up the recovery process.
2.A restricted calorie intake
Calorie restriction is another contender for the number one spot, along with overtraining. Most people who work out substantially underestimate the role of food in how we feel and how well we perform in the gym. This is normal! After all, the myth that we need to cut our calories to lose weight – as much as possible – is everywhere. And even though a moderate reduction of our calorie intake does work, there comes a time when the body goes into survival mode, and when this is a chronic condition, the body develops a deficiency of micro- and macronutrients. This inevitably leads to a change in biochemistry which leads to these lethargic, lazy and tired episodes. It is not an accident that professional bodybuilders, who definitely run a large calorie deficit when they are cutting fat, have scheduled “cheat days”. Or simply put, days when they eat more food. On those days their body gets what it needs to be well prepared for the coming workouts. I am not a fan of cheat days for people who are not into professional bodybuilding. So when you find yourselves in this condition and are quite tired, one thing you can do is to increase your calorie intake for a day or two. I can say from experience that as little as one day does the trick.
What I have noticed is that when I have been too active, but my physical activity has not been compensated by a sufficient calorie intake, there comes a day when I feel quite tired. I don’t feel like working out and I am hungrier from the very morning. At times like that the food that usually tastes good and fills me up is not at all satiating. I would even say that I find it tasteless and even though I feel my belly is full, I lack energy and feel like eating some more. On days like this I know I have disrupted the balance between my energy intake and my energy expenditure and I know that the best solution is to simply eat a little more – and eat carbohydrates. Naturally, I have not eaten unhealthy food for years and as you know, I love oatmeal, so what I choose is a slightly larger amount of oatmeal in one of my favorite sweet-and-salty combinations. I start feeling considerably better from the moment I have had this meal. Then I make sure I increase the serving sizes of my other meals or add some carbohydrate to another one of my meals and on the next day I am ready for new exploits. So, if you feel like this, start by skipping a workout and increase your serving sizes and carbohydrate intake, and you will feel better on the very next day. If you resist this feeling and work out nevertheless, and you don’t get enough food, you will only prolong your agony and you could end up having an emotional eating episode.
3.You do the same thing over and over
I see movement as food for the cells. Every form of physical activity can be defined as a different macro- or micronutrient. When it comes to eating, no one likes having the same foods day in and day out. There comes a time when you get bored and you need different tastes. Besides, if you eat the same food over and over, you obtain the same nutrients and this creates a deficiency in the body and the body doesn’t feel good. Then you can get cravings for other foods, because you instinctively know that they contain what you need. Let’s get back to movement. Most people do the same things every day. Some have a thing about big weights and lift very heavy without doing nothing else – they don’t have brief mobility workouts or sporadic cardio-like physical activity, be it swimming, running or climbing mountain peaks. Others do aerobics only or some similar group class, but never try anything different – other exercises, another degree of intensity. All this overstimulates the body and the mind and they crave something different. For me personally, one of the best times in my life was when I realized I did not have to train with weights every time in order to have a quality workout. The time I realized there was nothing more pleasant than moving one’s body in all kinds of ways. I used to train in the gym – every day. I don’t do this anymore. On some days I train with weights, on others I swim, do yoga, ride a bike, climb mountain peaks, do mobility exercises or hand-stand practice. This way I challenge my body in different ways and I would say that one form of physical activity helps me take a break from the other one and I can work out every day without becoming exhausted often, because I can dose the intensity and the variety. Yoga helps me recover from the weights, hikes help me get away from everything and water makes my body feel like no other sport can. If you don’t feel like working out, try something different. It is highly likely that your body wants to move, but in a different way. You can take a longer walk today or go to a yoga class, or do interval sprints, instead of training with weights. Or instead of going to a yoga or an aerobics class, you can try working out with weights. Your body will thank you.
4.You don’t make it a priority
Each item is a candidate for the number one spot. I have a magnet on my fridge that says: “Today I didn’t feel like working out, so I didn’t. It has been 10 years in a row.”A funny quote that is quite telling. Many people regard physical activity as some kind of probability during their day – it may or may not happen. This is the most sure-fire way for you to skip a workout. It is the most sure-fire way to always find something more important to do. The things people prioritize are the things they make time for and approach willingly. If movement is not a priority for you, you shouldn’t wonder why you don’t feel like working out. You have to stop looking for motivation and start looking for inspiration. The former is something external, while the latter is something that comes from inside. Something that helps you exercise and keep on, even when you don’t have perfect conditions.
5.You don’t schedule your workout at the right time
We are all different and everyone has different preferences. The time of day we schedule our workouts is largely dependent on our overall schedule. For example, from a biological point of view the body is best prepared for physical activity during the afternoon hours. I am aware of this, but I get up quite early nonetheless and when the afternoon comes, I have done so much that I feel tired. Neither my mind, nor my body feel like a more strenuous workout. So I know that if I want to work out, I had best schedule my workout in the morning hours and this is what I do. A workout in the afternoon or evening costs me too much willpower which I prefer to use for something else.
There are people who prefer to work out in the evening. They like having ticked off all their tasks and going to a training session afterwards. If you make them work out in the morning, they analyze everything they have to get done and can’t focus. They don’t feel like working out, because their minds are not focused on that, either. This kind of people can lack enthusiasm to work out in the morning, but be keen on working out in the evening – and all this happens within one and the same day.
Just think about it and determine which option is best suited to your personality and lifestyle.
Which of the 5 items sounds like you?