Managing a Routine
Nowadays we’re bombarded with the notion that we should always be feeling motivated – we should always be wanting to train, work hard, eat healthily. It’s impossible to scroll down a health-related Instagram feed without coming across at least one motivational post. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with offering motivation and encouragement, but the belief that we should be permanently feeling motivated is wrong. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty when we have an off-week.
I know that it took me a while to accept that I won’t always look forward to going to the gym, or feel like avoiding treats or ploughing tirelessly through work. It’s simply not sustainable. Something that my mum always says to me when I’m revising is that I should ‘go with the energy’, and I think she’s right. Our energy levels are constantly fluctuating, and it’s easy for us to ignore our body’s signals and burn out. Some days we’ll feel energetic and productive, other days we’ll feel lethargic and unmotivated. That’s just how it is. To quote my mum again (I promise she didn’t write this), “manage your energy, not your time’.
I am in no position of expertise to advise anyone on how to find a balance, but I can share my thoughts based on my experience. I’m currently 17 and doing A levels in three quite full-on subjects. Outside of school I train regularly, have a Sunday job, try to maintain a regular supply of content for my personal blog and social media channels, as well as collaborating with and creating content for other companies. So, when I feel shattered after a long day of work, it’s hardly surprising that the last thing I want to do is head to the gym.
I enjoy all of the things which I do outside of school, and, as I’m not willing to give these up, I have to find ways of fitting them in. This is easier than it sounds because finding a balance between schoolwork, blogging, enjoyment and relaxation tends to be quite tricky. I know many people are in the same boat; our lifestyles are becoming increasingly more hectic, so I’ve decided to share some things which I find helpful.
1.) Training – I’ve reduced my training slightly because this year is extremely important for me and I want to focus heavily on my schoolwork. Don’t underestimate how exhausting mental work can be physically. Learning to listen to your body can be difficult, but it is crucial. If you’re feeling exhausted, then maybe don’t go to the gym.
If, like me, you’re determined to maintain your fitness levels, try and shorten your workouts. I’m focusing on full-body HIIT workouts at the moment – they’re short and intense, and the science-backed effects are powerful. At the weekends, when I have a bit more time, I can build in slightly longer strength sessions or yoga classes around my work.
2.) Treats – These are important for sanity. I don’t crave junk food, but I definitely have a sweet tooth, and I prefer to satiate it in a healthier way, using delicious alternatives like home-baked cakes (you can find a range of healthier dessert alternatives on my blog!) Oppo ice cream (salted caramel is the dream) and Lindt 90% dark chocolate is another one of my favourites. If you’re including treats you won’t feel deprived and are less likely to binge on junk food or neglect the healthy diet.
3.) Don’t over-commit – I am definitely guilty of this – when exciting opportunities pop up, I find it hard to resist saying yes to them all. Then I end up with a lengthy to-do list, which, when combined with everything else in my life, gives my stress levels a big unhealthy boost. Even if I enjoy these tasks, it’s still another thing to do. This goes for training plans too – I am sometimes guilty of booking in too many workouts and completely underestimating my need for rest. If I feel particularly tired one day, I might end up cancelling or repeatedly postponing a workout, which is never a nice feeling. So instead I’ve started to build in more rest. That way I feel more motivated when I come back the next day, and my body has more time to recover.
4.) Use a diary – Whether you buy one or have one on your phone, make use of your diary. I prefer to write my appointments in my diary, and I use it all the time. I am quite an organised person, and I will write every little thing in mine. My work, my training plan, my blog posts everything goes into my diary. That way, these plans are solidified, and I feel less stressed because I know when I’m going to do the things that I have to do.
I hope these help, and if you have any tips or suggestions that help with your motivation and energy levels, then please do share them!