Make fitness your lifestyle, not your life: 4 ways to stop obsessing over your exercise routine

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If you look at statistics, it’s obvious that we as a society don’t exercise nearly enough. So I’m all about encouraging people to work out more.

But the thing is: there’s a very thin line between exercising because you enjoy it and becoming overly obsessed about your workout routine.

The moment your life begins to revolve around fitness, and your fitness only, then you’ve taken it too far.

In my early attempts of building the “perfect body”, fitness controlled my life. My schedule was structured around my workouts, I would skip social occasions so that I could squeeze in one more run and I’d never in a million years do yoga because I had the “If I don’t sweat like crazy, then it’s not a real workout” – mentality.

Don’t get me wrong, some people have no trouble whatsoever with meal plans, rigid workout routines and working their butt off at the gym every day. If that’s you, then that’s awesome and I encourage you to continue doing what you enjoy.

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t wired that way. I know I definitely am not. Back then, if I missed one workout, I would consider myself a failure and punish myself by going twice as hard at it the next day. My world existed in black and white: I had to go exercise every single day, otherwise the whole week was considered a waste.

This mentality often had me giving up my routine for weeks on end, because I thought “If I missed one day and the week is already ruined, I might as well give up completely.”. Then, after a couple of weeks I’d be riddled with guilt and force myself to exercise again. And so the cycle repeated itself, over and over again.

If you are nodding your head in agreement as you read this, chances are you have been taking your exercise regime a bit too far.

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Finding a healthy balance

We all want to be fit, but at what cost? If you have been giving up meeting up with friends or cuddling in bed with your partner just so that you can get one more workout in, then the cost may be too high.

Or it may not be.

Let me explain: It comes down to your mentality around workouts, not necessarily the frequency and intensity of your workouts in itself. Yes, it’s about finding a workout routine that is balanced and beneficial for your body, but it’s even more so about forging the right mindset.

See, here’s the thing: You might consider someone who works out 6x a week obsessive. But if that person can have a week of not exercising without experiencing any guilt, then I think that they have a pretty healthy relationship towards exercise. On the other hand, if someone who usually exercises 2x a week skips a day and feels incredibly guilt-ridden for the rest of the week, then that is obsessive.

It really is all about the mindset. How can you foster a healthy mindset around sport? Here’s my 4 tips:

1.    Simplify things: stop worrying if it’s better to perform six reps or five, or if you should rest 60 seconds or 30 seconds between sets. You don’t have to overcomplicate things.

2.    Stop comparing yourself: comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare your beginnings to some else’s end. It will just frustrate you and get you overly obsessed about results instead of enjoying the process.

 3.    Try new things: When we stick to the same routine for so long, we run the risk of becoming too obsessed with it. So get out of your comfort zone and try a new sport or fitness class that you’ve never done before. Chances are you’ll feel refreshed and energized in a different way afterwards.

 4.    Listen to your body and recognize when it’s time to rest: The next time you feel under the weather, don’t force yourself to go work out, but actually give your body the rest that it’s craving. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 It’s time to take a look at your fitness routine and get honest with yourself: Do you control it or does it control you?