Most of us are super busy these days, and it can be hard to fit exercise into that jam-packed schedule. I’ve posted before on the benefits of morning workouts, which have helped me establish a regular fitness routine. Mornings don’t work for everyone, though, so lunch breaks are the next best opportunity to get in some exercise. Plus, if your office has a gym inside or nearby, you can take advantage of those amenities with a workday workout.
But squeezing in a workout over lunch can be challenging. And I hate to say it, but the transition is even more difficult for ladies. Unlike most guys I know, I can’t have a full shower and be ready to get back to work in ten minutes flat! So when it comes to mid-day exercise, I can’t afford to waste time or effort in getting it done. Preparation is key to making your workday workout work for you. Here are some of my tips for doing just that!
The first time I went to a hot yoga class, I was sweating buckets… And that’s before the class even began! I’d just signed up for an intro class pass at my local studio, and decided to make the most of it. I didn’t have someone to come along with me to the class, let alone someone with hot yoga experience that could show me the ropes. In fact, I’d never even been to a new type of class without a friend there as a safety net. I read as much as I could about hot yoga online before the class, and it still sounded super intimidating. “Feeling like you might pass out is normal” isn’t the most reassuring thing to find out. Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone!
Whether it’s in the realm of fitness, school, work, or even hobbies, I’ve always struggled with going beyond my comfort zone. I somehow developed the mentality that if I wasn’t good at something, there was no point in doing it. If I’d never done it before, of course I wasn’t good at it! This became a vicious cycle. It definitely made it easier to have friends or family lead the way. So for many years, I only tried new things if someone else was doing it too. This strategy worked pretty well… Until I graduated.
If you’re a student, I’ll let you in on a little secret: real life doesn’t have extracurricular fairs. And there’s no curriculum forcing you to try new things. If you let the pressure get to you — like I did for a while there — you will just stick with whatever routines you formed in school. Maybe that means you’ll party every weekend, or maybe you’ll just stay home and watch Netflix. (I’ll let you guess which one describes me!) But as that super-popular Pinterest quote says:
Ah, the eternal wisdom of Pinterest quotes.
If you want to grow, you have to go beyond that comfort zone!
That said, how do you stay cool once you step into the unknown and the heat is on? Thinking back to that first class last winter, the strategies I used in hot yoga are applicable to pretty much any uncomfortable situation.
- Take deep breaths. Listen to the gentle music playing (or the ambient sounds around you), and focus on those simple sensations. It helps you tune out the endless chatter of self-doubt, and to calm the physical and emotional impacts of new and uncomfortable situations. Make yourself comfortable in the physical sense, whether that means rolling your shoulders, finding some comfy furniture, or choosing products that promote comfort and support from brands like Tommy John (check them out here). No matter what you’re tackling, give yourself permission to find your zen.
- View others’ success as inspiration, not competition. I definitely struggle with comparison and the impostor syndrome that follows. But lately I’ve tried to be mindful of the times when I notice others that are better at something than I am, and to use the opportunity to set goals rather than to foster jealousy and embarrassment. A yoga example: crow pose isn’t in my practice at this point, but many other people in my classes seem to have it down pat. It’s been a conscious process to focus on my own journey and keep a level head (so to speak) when the pose comes up in yoga class.
- Track and embrace your progress — then keep going. As you continue to work through a new challenge, you will grow… And so will your comfort zone. At that point it can become easy, once again, to stay in that space. But the more you try new things, the more you will be able to handle — and even avoid — the discomfort that comes with it. Feel free to think beyond the typical linear trajectory of growth, too. When it comes to yoga, it’s easy to think of the practice as a checklist of poses to master. But I know that my biggest hurdle is a mental one. It’s all about quieting the mind, focusing on the breath, going with the flow. Look for new ways to challenge yourself, and you’ll learn how to stay calm, cool, and collected in the process.
How do you stay cool when the pressure’s on?
Since I moved to Oakville over two years ago, I’ve tried to take advantage of the great outdoors as much as I can. It helps that I live so close to Lake Ontario for lovely summer strolls. But I also discovered the Halton Parks, a collection of seven conservation areas along the Niagara Escarpment. A couple of my previous posts talked about my experiences at these parks, such as Hilton Falls and the Nassagaweya Canyon, and my newfound love for hiking. This year, they launched a hiking challenge (or trail running or mountain biking or rock climbing, depending on your sport of choice) called the Halton Parks 150, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. My quest to complete the challenge took over my summer… in a really positive way! Continue reading
You know those people you see out jogging every morning? Or those people who finish exercising at the gym before you’re even out of bed? Or worse, your friends that post gym selfies or yoga poses with the sunrise as their backdrop? They are what we call “morning workout people”. Maybe they drive you nuts, but you’re probably a little bit jealous of them too. Where the heck do they get the energy and motivation to be a morning workout person?
I used to totally envy those people. The thought of waking up and working out seemed totally out of reach. But now, a year later, I’m one of them. I wake up at 5:45 (and some days at 5:20) to start my day and sweat it out. If you’re familiar with Tone It Up, my favourite online fitness community, the morning workout is so important that it has a name: the “Bootycall”. And it’s a daily occurrence, not just a few times a week or only weekdays! So how did I go from never exercising in the morning (or at all, for that matter) to putting in a morning workout every damn day?Continue reading
School is back in session! Are you lamenting the end of summer vacation (or maybe celebrating it)? I’ve been out of school for a few years now, and it still feels strange not heading back to class after Labour Day. Looking back on high school, I definitely learned a lot, both inside the classroom and out. But there are a number of life lessons I wish we’d all learned in high school. If you’re a student, know a student, are a teacher, or know a teacher, let me know if you agree! Continue reading
Whether it’s a tight deadline or an unexpectedly massive workload, sometimes your 9-5 can turn into a “9-whenever”. Extended work hours can seriously drain you for days to come. Despite my best efforts, I tend to pull some long hours at work for a variety of reasons, so I’ve had to develop ways to make the schedule a bit more bearable. Try out these tips next time you need to stay late at the office! Continue reading
Hello from the East Coast! I’m currently on vacation in Sackville, New Brunswick on my first-ever road trip. It’s only been a few days, but I’ve learned a lot already! Here are some of the road trip lessons I’ve learned so far:
The prospect of a road trip was initially pretty stressful for me. Planning routes, stops, and excursions was a lot, not to mention having to rely on the weather’s cooperation! I’ve learned over the past couple of days, though, that having an open mind and a flexible schedule makes for a much more relaxing trip. This was especially clear when we realized we accidentally set our Bed & Breakfast check-out a day too early! Rather than panicking and trying to stick to a rigid plan, we took the opportunity to book our extra day in Gaspé to hike in one of its National Parks. I’m looking forward to the (unplanned) adventure! Continue reading
Millennials are having a really hard time these days when it comes to finances. Mountains of student debt, underemployment, housing prices through the roof… It’s crazy! And without a clear game plan, a lot of us are struggling to make ends meet and achieve our goals. While it’s not as easy as forgoing avocado toast (for a few decades), every money-saving habit helps to build the foundation for your financial future. For me, the most reliable ways to save money are the ones I don’t even think about. Here are five everyday choices and habits that help me save up.
Last weekend, I attended a “vision board party” and created my very first vision board. It’s basically a big collage of photos, text, and graphics that symbolize your visions and goals for your life. They’re pretty popular in the self-help and wellness space thanks to The Secret and the so-called “Law of Attraction“. I’ll admit that I was pretty skeptical. First of all, I’m not very artistic (at all). If my school poster projects were any indication, then this was going to be a disaster! Continue reading
When it comes to gardening, most people tend to imagine older ladies in large-brimmed hats tending to flowerbeds outside their sprawling suburban homes. (At least, that’s what I think of.) So when my boyfriend and I started a backyard garden during our very first spring out of university, we were met with some surprise. Now that we’re into our third season of growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, we can’t recommend it highly enough to other twenty-somethings! In fact, it seems that millennial gardeners are becoming a bit of a trend. (Finally, something millennials aren’t killing…) Here are five reasons why gardening in your twenties is a definite must-do. Continue reading