Are your workouts more of a punishment than fun?
I just need to get in 2000 more steps for my daily step goal, I need to workout for 10 more minutes to hit the 60 minute mark, I have to workout at least 6 days a week or I feel like I've failed myself.
I've heard it all. Often these metrics are coming from a place of punishment or the feeling of failure if we don't reach some arbitrary number. Yes, there have been studies done to get certain numbers but the majority of studies are done on men in the exercise community leaving a big fat ? for how this actually affects a women's body.
I'm in a few different Facebook groups for programs I'm in, one of the top questions I see asked is how do you get your workouts in each week. I just hate to workout. I usually cringe at some of the answers as some are coming from a dogmatic approach which is not at all helpful to someone who hates to workout, others not understanding that it's not the lack of time that's the issue it's the lack of finding something they enjoy doing.
Too many times we don't workout not because it's not convenient but the shear fact we don't like it. It's not always enjoyable to get your heart rate up, jumping can be painful on the joints, it's boring, we don't know what to do. We start a program but quickly finding ourselves stopping within the first few weeks of starting.
If you're a female and you're still cycling there is a reason you feel the up and down workout roller coaster ride each month. Our hormones play a HUGE factor in how much energy we have, motivation, time of day we want to workout, what we want to do for our workout even.
It's time to take our cycle into consideration when we plan our workouts.
Each phase in our menstrual cycle brings in new energy and with those new energy we have new superpowers.
Menstrual Workout Superpowers
Rest. Yep. That is our major superpower during this time and it should not be ignored. We can really throw our cycle off by not taking the first few days of our cycle off from a workout. You typically have low energy and feel slower. Take those days to rest. On days 3-5 of your cycle maybe you want to add in gentle walks or gentle yoga. That's about it for this phase. Don't over do it or you miss the magic of the next phases.
Fun! Your superpower for the follicular phase is fun, new, fresh, exciting. This is the time your energy will start to pick up again. Use this energy to enjoy new classes, try a dance class, get outside on your bike, try goat yoga. Do something outside the box. It's a great time to workout earlier in the morning as you have the energy to do so. Be creative and invite a friend to share in the new fun aerial yoga class you've been dying to try!
Power. This phase of your cycle you feel powerful. You have a huge surge of energy for a few days so use it! HIIT workouts, outdoor bootcamp classes, running or biking long distance, hot yoga. Just like in the follicular phase your energy can be used first thing in the morning for your harder workouts. You may still have energy for a walk around your neighborhood, or a gentle stretching class later that night. Now is the time for 2 a days if you feel called to them. This is also the shortest phase so use your power workouts wisely.
Flow. The luteal phase starts with energy but leaves you feeling a little sluggish by the end. Break this phase into two chunks. It's the longest phase at 14 days. You might have energy for the first 7 days or maybe 12 of the 14 days. Each cycle and person will be different. Tune into your body. I say flow as you need to adapt to the energy of this phase which can be a bit up and down. You will probably have a combination of HIIT workouts, dance classes, walks, and gentle yoga all built into this phase. I also like to use the second half of this phase to work on specific body parts that don't always tone up as well for myself- ahem my arms. I add in an extra triceps day during this phase as it's a lower energy workout typically needed to get the job done. I'm also not afraid to rest when I just feel like I have absolutely nothing left in my tank. This phase you might enjoy an afternoon workout in the 2nd half of your luteal phase as your energy in the mornings can often be low this phase.
I think women don't like to workout because we've been spoon-fed a method of working out that is supposed to look the same all month long when clearly our hormones show us we are not the same all month long. The more we can adapt our expectations on ourselves and stop punishing ourselves thinking another hardcore workout during day 1 of our cycle will get us the results we crave is problematic. Often it doesn't and we end up with hormonal imbalances and burnout thinking we hate to workout.