When you live with chronic illness getting enough exercise can be a challenge. You have to very carefully balance your abilities with training plans and techniques designed for folks who are already physically fit. To little exercise and you lose muscle strength, too much and you can injure yourself in a way that limits life even further. It’s not impossible to create a new healthy lifestyle even while battling chronic illness. I’m still very much a novice when it comes to physical fitness and working out. However – I’ve learned a few very important things along the way that I wanted to share these 10 workout tips for spoonies.
10 Workout Tips for Spoonies
1. Make A Goal
Make a lot of goals actually. There are mini milestones all along the way heading to a big goal that you need to hit. I celebrate every small goal and as I move through the progression it helps to keep me going. Read my previous article Get SMART Setting Fitness Goals.
2. Half The Fight Is In Your Head
Give yourself pep talks throughout your workout. Leave yourself notes around the house about how greta you are doing. Simply believing that you can do it will carry you a long way. Don’t let the mind monsters get in your way of being successful.
3. Work Out Hard, But Be Smart
When those voices start telling you to stop, what you really need to do is reassess. Scale back for a couple of minutes without stopping, slow down, and mentally scan your body. If you’re just tired stay at the slower pace until you can ramp back up. However – if you feel like you’re injured or so tired that your motions are sloppy and dangerous it may be time to stop for the day.
4. Trust Your Plan
Set up a solid training plan to reach your goal, and stick to it. Even if you feel like you are doing great and can take on more – don’t rush your increases – trust the plan and you’ll get to your goal. If you don’t you’ll risk injury that can set you back even further.
5. Do Something, Anything
On days that you don’t feel great or you are hurting more than normal you don’t have to completely give up on your work out, simply scale back. Gentle movement can be a huge benefit to many invisible illnesses, like fibromyalgia. Try to replace the cardio or weight routine with slow yoga, pilates, or water walking. Getting in a shorter, lighter work out supports your plan, keeps your head in the game, and the healthy habits going. I have a stretching routine that I can even do in bed.
6. It Always Sucks Until Your Body Is Warmed Up
You can’t rush your warm-up for any reason. Getting into a groove takes as long as it takes. Just keep moving forward and eventually the early work out aches with fade away and everything will become easier. Even the most seasoned athlete will start out bumpy but finish strong. Embrace the suck.
7. Find A Buddy
You may be excited about your workouts, but your family’s eyes will glaze over if that aren’t into fitness too. Have a designated work-out buddy that you can talk about your training plan to, and be accountable to for your workouts. My buddy and I live a couple of hours away from each other, but we send each other videos and pictures both before and after out gym times.
8. Use All The Resources You Can
Not only do I have a training plan, but I’m seeing a physical therapist, massage therapist, and frequently looking up sports articles regarding nutrition, and sports psychology online. Use all the resources that you can to inspire your health and keep you on track. There’s more to fitness than just getting to the gym, do your research and train smart.
9. Fuel The Machine
If you are going to be working out for more than an hour, it doesn’t matter if you’re running or walking, your body will need more than just water to keep you feeling good. Find the endurance fuel that you like best and work it in to your regular training schedule, it’s not just for races. My favorites are Nunn Hydration, and Watermelon Gu Chews.
10. No One At The Gym Cares What You Are Doing
Just go in and do your thing with confidence, because that’s what everyone else is doing. No one cares what you’re wearing, or what size you are. No one cares if you pause the treadmill so you can stretch a little more or tie your shoes. Be confident, and act like you belong – because you do.