Exercise Preparation as a Lifestyle
It doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting. In fact, it probably sounds downright boring and hard work. But accepting exercise preparation as a part of my lifestyle was a real game changer for me, and for many of my clients over the years. So I wanted to dig a little deeper and explain what it’s all about.
Why prep anything?
Almost everything we do in life requires some form of preparation. Going to work requires, having clean work clothes, setting an alarm to get up on time, traveling to work, having money on you or a prepared meal for lunch. An international holiday means having a passport, some money, a mode of transport, a place to sleep….you get the point. No matter if it’s something as routine as work, or something as exciting as a holiday we have to prepare for it. Most of the time we don’t think of this a preparation though. We barely think of it at all — it’s just stuff that has to be done so we can do the things we have to do, or want to do. Without all those forms of preparation we would achieve very little and not recognise our growth or when good things are happening to us. Preparation forms a sort of mental network our boundary for us to push up against. It helps us to deal with challenges and the unexpected events of life.
What prep does exercise require?
To truly get the most out of our exercise, and to feel our best whilst we are doing it, we have to prepare a number of things. How much sleep we have the night before, making sure we have adequate meals leading up to it, the right amount of water in the body, ensuring you stretch before and after exercise, and the best frame of mind going into it should all be on the list. Like most other things in life, your exercise is not an accident and how you feel when you exercise isn’t accidental either.
Why is it so important?
I have met countless people who are frustrated at the gym because they feel tired, nauseas, demotivated or outright pissed off that they are even there. When I asked them about what they have eaten and drunk, what time they went to bed, and what happened during their day at work or how they are feeling in their personal lives, the answers astounded me. The number of people that came to the gym either having just eaten a heavy meal minutes before arriving or not having eaten at all that day was gobsmacking. People would train having only slept 2 hours, or having had nothing but coffee to drink all day.
They would wonder why they felt demotivated working out when they had just had a big fight with a spouse or had an awful day at work. Every single thing leading up to exercise affects it. In the same way that a bad night’s sleep affects your work, or a fight with a loved one changes your mood. Simply stated everything in your life and therefore your lifestyle is interconnected. Nothing is really separate and so you need to accept exercise as part of the same lifestyle as your work and personal life for it to really work for you.
So a good rule of thumb is to be prepared the day before you exercise. That means thinking about everything that will happen that day (you do this subconsciously anyway, now you will just include exercise as part of that thinking). Will you have a bottle of water with you so you can remain hydrated throughout the day? What will you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least you can acknowledge you need to have 3 meals a day)? Do you have your gym clothes ready to go? What time are you going to go to bed to make sure you are up in time for work (and therefore the gym)? Is there anything in your life right now that is making you unsettled that you need to deal with (do you need to talk to a friend, do some future planning, look into meditation to assist with stress)? Sound like a lot, but like anything with practice it becomes routine, and routine eventually becomes autopilot.
Start thinking of your exercise as part of your life, instead of an addition to it and you will find that the prepping becomes more natural and you will get a lot more happiness and success from the process!