This week’s blog is guest written by Sheila Olson, a.k.a. FitSheila. You may visit her website at fitsheila.com. Enjoy!
Achieving a healthy lifestyle is not an easy feat. While it’s tempting to simply push yourself in a high-intensity workout, this too often means neglecting your basic self-care needs. Being self-aware and having the ability to check in with yourself allows you to address any physical and mental needs and create a balanced lifestyle.
Check out some tips below on how you can incorporate self-care into your fitness routine.
- Don’t Skip the Warm-Up or Cool-Down
Resist the urge to dive right into your workout. A proper warm-up and cool-down will ease you in and out of your workout on both a mental and physical level. The American Heart Association recommends spending just five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles. This will not only make them more flexible and less injury-prone, but will increase your physical performance. Likewise, time spent stretching at the end of your workout will help prevent cramping and stiffness.
2. Train Smart, Not Hard
If you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle mass, pushing yourself harder is generally not the best route. Going to the gym every day or over-increasing your intensity is not the way to get the results you want. In fact, overdoing it like this can lead to a burnout.
Instead, it is better to train smarter. Your muscles need time to rest and recover to grow. Overtraining can also lead to problems sleeping, cause exhaustion, and create mood swings. You should aim to work out three to six times a week and vary your routine by concentrating on different muscle groups each day for the best results.
3. Catch Those ZZZs
Sleep is incredibly important. In order to fully accomplish your health goals, you need to prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try putting away your phone and turning off that TV. CNN warns of blue light emitted from screens that tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Instead, swap your phone for a book, or try meditating before going to bed. Turning your phone off or putting it on silent mode for the night is another good way to keep from getting distracted when it goes off.
4. You Are What You Eat
It’s no secret that what you eat is important in maintaining a healthy diet. While it’s easy to remember to pay attention to all the carbs, protein, and fats you consume, most people forget about their vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients are just as important. They are what keep your body running as it should.
Don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day, either. Staying properly hydrated ensures all the nutrients you eat get to all the right places in your body. Watch out for signs of dehydration like increased thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine, exhaustion, headaches and dizziness. Be sure to drink up if you experience any of these signs.
5. Have a Self Check-In
Both while exercising and throughout the day, listen to your body. If your arms are sore, work another muscle group. If you have a headache, drink some water. If you are stressed, take time to do a hobby that you enjoy.
It is also a good idea to keep in mind why you are doing what you do. This skill is especially important in those recovering from substance abuse. Many going through rehab find exercise a great outlet and motivator for getting healthy and staying sober. It can increase confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment.
However, many are also susceptible to replacing one addiction with another and may start obsessing over weights and calories. Successfully keeping an eye on the why and regularly checking in with yourself can prevent this from happening by knowing when it’s time to seek help.
Slowing It Down
In many ways, self-care is about slowing things down. It is about taking much-needed time to take care of yourself and putting your needs first. By doing so, you can achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.