Working Out, When Everything’s Falling Apart

Exercising consistently and eating well are EASY when life is simple, however when things get a little crazy (or your world is falling apart and you’re managing huge hard things) exercise is often the first thing to fall off, closely followed by fuelling your body properly.  

One thing I would like to teach the world is this: “Let exercise/nutrition/self-care be your anchor when your world is going crazy”. I promise you I understand, I have experienced some very rough days and years, I have gone through some pretty intense crisis times in my life and I struggle pretty seriously with PTSD. Through these times I cling to my exercise schedule and nutrition habits with all I’ve got and here is why:

  1.  When you have zero energy and nothing to give – exercise will give you a boost to help you get through another hard day
  2. When you are really sad, exercise can’t fix what is happening, but it will give you a nice dose of endorphins and other feel-good hormones that will help you cope for another day. 
  3. Being with your gym community can help you feel supported and connecting with the group will also release oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and more endorphins.
  4. Not eating just makes you feel like garbage, which is the last thing you need when things are hard.

It is important to recognize that when life is bananas or really hard, your energy is not going to be what it normally is. Depending on the type of person you are and what is happening you might find a great escape by focussing on your goals and training for them – this can mentally help a lot if it can take your mind off the big hard thing for a few minutes. But sometimes the big hard thing is too much and you have nothing to give instead you just need to use your exercise time to do things that help you feel better. Here are some things you can do to make exercise more manageable when you just have nothing left:

  1.  Do what you like the most. If you love lifting weights and hate cardio, then do more weights, if you love cardio and hate weights, do more cardio. Skip/change any parts of your workout that you don’t feel like doing. 
  2. Give yourself permission to show up and slack off, you’ll always do more than you thought you could, and whatever you do will help you feel a little better, so truly just show up and chill
  3. Change your schedule if necessary. Sometimes something needs to change for you to prioritize your fitness, if life is getting in the way of your daytime workouts, you might need to shift to early mornings to find time that is protected. Or maybe you can’t protect your sleep time anymore and you need to shift from early mornings to later so that you can get in another little bit of rest. Maybe you need to find a way to workout with children in tow or enlist the support of a partner or friend for childcare, whatever is getting in the way usually has a solution, I love to help with figuring out logistics in busy lives, message me and we can talk it through and find a way.
  4. Whatever happens at the gym, just be proud of yourself for showing up, maybe you didn’t lift as heavy, maybe you were slower, or maybe you skipped some stuff. But you showed up on a hard day and you gave what you could, so you get a gold star!
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others! Every fit person who works out consistently has good and bad days, and remember: it’s easier to show up on the good days. So you just did the hardest thing by showing up on the bad day!
  6. Take exercise OFF the to-do list full of things that aren’t fun, and place it in the category of “very kind things that I do for myself so that I feel a little bit better”. Doing something that has no other purpose and is for the benefit of no one but you is a little gift to yourself. Things are hard right now, so prioritize giving yourself this little gift that will just really help with coping.
  7. Make sure you are eating, my appetite can be the first thing to go when I’m very stressed. Eating is more important than nutrition if you’re struggling to put food in your mouth, just eat what you like. Obviously the healthier the better, but if fries are the only thing you can get yourself to eat, just eat them and move on.

When life is hard, the best thing you can do is find any joy you can find, prioritize the things that will help you manage and cope, be gentle on yourself and keep breathing until it gets easier. I truly love helping when people are going through the hard parts, message me :)