Fluctuating Fitness: Embracing Your Ever Changing Fitness
If there is anything I’ve learned through my fitness journey, it’s that fitness is an ever changing cycle. You gain fitness and (more often, easily) you lose fitness. And you know what. Here’s a secret: it’s OKAY. Your body is not meant to freeze and be the same exact way it has been for x amount of years. Yes, it is important to maintain a base and a healthy body, but I want you to know it is normal, if not expected to have certain seasons of peak fitness and other seasons of ‘off season’ fitness. And both are fine, good, and healthy.
In our body imaged obsessed culture that we live in, it is easy to look at all these gorgeous, airbrushed models and get this crazy idea that we should look exactly like this. But, these models are normally starved, photo-shopped and anything but healthy! Basically, we are trying to reach a goal that can never be met without an air brushed stroke. And in the fitness world it is easy to start comparing ourselves to either other runners or ourselves.
In my own personal running journey, I know in peak seasons of heavy training my body is in peak fitness and when I’m not in peak seasons of training, I’m not in my exact peak fitness level either. It doesn’t mean I’m not fit or tone, etc. but it means that my fitness may look a little different than what it does when I am running 40 + miles a week in marathon training.
Why am I sharing this?
Because I want you to know that it is normal for your fitness to fluctuate. And while I’m all about chasing big goals, striving toward fitness, and growing each day, I’m also passionate about balance and realizing these seemingly un-normal things are normal and okay.
I do want to add, this is in no way promoting just a ‘give up,’ mentality. I never want to just get too comfortable and jump off the bandwagon or just be okay with coasting. My main message here is that you (and I) will have different peak fitness levels and they will come in seasons. It’s okay, good, normal, and healthy! And both sides of the coin, your time of peak fitness and your time of the off season should be embraced.
However, if you are feeling less celebratory and kind of ‘meh,’ about your fitness; here a few things to remember/ consider:
- Look at your nutrition and see what changes can be made. One of the first things I do when I feel like my fitness is in a funk is look at my nutrition. What am I putting into my body? Am I mindlessly snacking? Am I eating because I am bored? Nutrition can totally make or break your running/fitness regime and I’ve found if my fitness seems to not be happening, nutrition is sometimes the culprit!
- Evaluate your water intake. Similarly to nutrition, a vital aspect of health is hydration! Drinking enough water flushes out toxins and gives us an energy boost! Looking into your water intake can definitely make a difference!
- Recognize there are seasons for everything! As stated before, there are seasons for everything. There are seasons for chasing big goals and hitting big fitness goals and there are seasons for a more relaxed approach and taking time off (think post-big race, pregnancy, injuries, etc.). This isn’t what ‘lazy,’ people do, even elite runners do this! Taking time off after reaching a big goal (i.e. PRs, a marathon, etc.) is very healthy and good for your body! Yes, you will lose some fitness, but overall it will be minimal (if you don’t take years off, haha!)
- Remember pant size/ the number on the scale is NOT EVERYTHING. If there is one thing that I could preach to you and myself constantly it is that your worth is not wrapped up in your pant size, your body weight, or your size of your waist. As a Christian, I have to continually remind myself that my WORTH comes from Christ, who made me and gave Himself up for me. My value comes through him and not in what I look like, what I eat, or what I weight. Yes, it is good to have goals and yes, it is good to be healthy, but it should not be your (my) identity.
- Find a goal to shoot for. Oftentimes, when I am feeling stuck and just kind of aimless in my fitness it is because I don’t have a goal I am chasing after. Usually, for me, it is a race. So, a practical example, if you are like me is to find a race, find something that inspires you and chase after it! Goals (backed up by being spoken and investing $$ into will do wonders for your habits!)
- Take some time off, if necessary. Another thing that I’ve done if I am feeling overwhelmed or discouraged about my fitness and is taking time to evaluate if I need a break. Sometimes, I can get so caught up in the day in day out, seemingly never ending grind that I get burnt out and lose the joy of fitness. Sometimes, I’ve found that taking some designated time off to evaluate goals and refresh is not only needed, but vital for future success! If you need to take a break and get refreshed mentally, DO IT!
- Don’t be afraid to do something drastic! This may sound odd, but if you find that you are struggling with your fitness/running/etc, something drastic may need to happen. Maybe you need to hire a coach, maybe you need to get accountability or sign up for a race, etc. Not every time do I resort to a drastic option, but every once in a while a good shake up to the normal, mundane routine is JUST what I need to invigorate me and my fitness routine!
I hope these tips help you as you navigate this sticky subject called, “Fluctuating Fitness.” I want to encourage you, that fitness does fluctuate, it’s okay, it’s normal and it doesn’t mean you fitness life is over. Instead let the off season time be a time too dream, plan, and prepare for an epic return to an even better fitness peak than before!
I’m cheering you on!