How To Exercise Everyday
Regardless of Your Mood
I’ve done all sorts of exercise in the past 10 or so years. In high school, I ran and practiced ballet. I also spent a few years attending hot yoga classes off and on. Then in my early twenties I lifted weights, completing routines of light cardio and calisthenics. Now, at 26, I’m mostly a climber. And from this decade of exercising experience, I know that we all have good workout days, and bad ones.
I often find myself dying to get to the climbing gym in the morning, only to feel exhausted and completely unable to do anything by 6pm after work. But because I’ve finally found a sport that I love, I’ll often force myself to go climbing in all of my various moods.
Sometimes it’s a real challenge. I arrive feeling hopeless, bitter, anti-social, and challenging myself to achieve more can just multiply those feelings, making everything worse rather than better.
I will often go the gym in all of my various moods.
Sometimes its a real challenge.
We do not live Pleasantville existences. We have hard jobs, big dreams, friends and family that need things from us, and sometimes even heavier burdens to bear. So adding physical fitness and hobbies onto that makes keeping up with all of it 5.13-level* hard (*climb joke—means really hard).
But I really think we can do it. Regardless of our moods, which are often the main blockers to this kind of success. You feel tired, worn out, maybe sad or even angry.
I’ve exercised in all of those moods, and so can you. Here’s how.
How to Climb Angry
I’m an impatient person. When some aspect of my life isn’t going perfectly (which surprise! is quite often) I tend to become very frustrated and often as a result, angry.
When I’m in this mood, I’ve found that the best way to overcome it on the wall is to channel my anger. Had a bad day or week? Sick of that one person that’s just repeatedly on your nerves, treating you poorly, or whatever the thing is? Channel it. Look at your task, and conquer it. Focus on the fact that however bad things are going, your workout is something you can win at. Then take all that negative energy and let it our with some hardcore aggression. Run faster, lift harder, throw yourself at the climbing wall. Either way, focus on the win that is now. Your frustration will dissipate with the release of those lovely endorphins.
Focus on the fact that however bad things are going, your workout is something you can win at.
How to Climb Sad
Working out when sad or bummed is a bit different. It’s not about pushing or maxing out. It’s actually quite the opposite. When you’re feeling low, you shouldn’t push yourself. But you should show up.
It’s tempting to go home, order a burrito, crack open a beer and call it a day. But if you had planned on working out that day, show up. I’m not saying you’ll accomplish tons. You may not. But you’re setting yourself up to exercise regularly, and fight through those crummy moods that can hinder our successes in life.
And instead of admitting defeat, you’re acknowledging blockers, which is much healthier and quite different. You’re saying,
“Yes today was hard. I feel like roadkill. But I’m here anyway. I’m going to do what I can and acknowledge that any effort in and of itself, is a huge success.” So show up. Be gentle with yourself. Celebrate your efforts. Then go home and kick your feet up.
When you’re feeling low, you shouldn’t push yourself. But you should show up.
How to Climb Tired
Working out tired: you’re not angry or sad, just utterly exhausted. My strategy for this has been to only require myself to do half of what I normally would. I show up, and rather than getting upset when I can’t fully perform, I complete half of my normal routine, whatever that may be.
It’s on the same principal as working out when sad, because it’s also not about pushing. It’s about being gentle with yourself, maintaining your routine, and trying to work with, rather than against, your energy levels.
If once you get there, you feel up to it, finish your routine. But on the outset only focus on finishing half. Then see how you feel, and after, reward yourself for showing up.
How to Climb Happy
Exercising happy. This one is easy. The trick is to use that good mood to get work done. Now is the time. Challenge yourself, push yourself, and do it now because your mood lets you. The day hasn’t beat you down—you have the energy and vibes to get some serious work in. So use this time to really excel at your fitness and sport. Be fearless and strong, and meet your challenge bravely.