When I look back at my high school self, sometimes I’m sort of amazed at the bandwidth I managed. I really have no idea how I to got straight A’s (oh no, i CRIED if I got a B on anything), played sports year round and for a traveling club team, was in Leadership and every group you’re “supposed” to join to get into college, etc. If you are anything like me, you tend to spread yourself a little too thin sometimes – ok, almost always – and at some point, it catches up with you. You feel the burnout and thus become irritable, you get sick, or you snap at someone. I’ve actually done all 3, none are very fun. I tell myself all the time “you need to start saying no to things” or “take a break from such-and-such”. It could be telling a friend ‘no’ to grabbing a glass of wine (this is the hardest thing ever to say no to, by the way), staying home from an event to catch up on life chores, or being honest at work about taking on another project that’s going to put your head under water. It’s really about deciding where your time is best spent for you and your goals, what really moves and drives you, and where do you get the most pleasure/benefit. I believe keeping a focus on this really helps with overall happiness.
While giving things up here and there is necessary to create some “me on me” time in my schedule, there are some things that I absolutely refuse to give up on with my lifestyle – fitness and working out being pretty obviously one of them by now. I’ll find ways to fit workouts into jam packed work or social days, holidays, vacations, everything (also things I refuse to give up on are my morning lattes from Peet’s coffee, letting my dog sleep on my bed, and dark chocolate on a DAILY basis…but hey, they all, in their own ways, make me just a little bit happy). Of these “non-negotiables” in my crazy life, exercise is the obvious #1. Not only for that endorphin kick at the end that makes you feel amazing, but my race training, my weight, and my mental happiness rely on it.
As many reasons why exercising is a top priority for me, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it takes some ridiculous will power to get out on the pavement or to the gym during a busy day, and dealing with sweat, clothing annoyances, and body backlash issues are not glamorous by any means. Below are 5 unavoidable, annoying downsides to exercising that I’ve found are, albeit humorous, all too true – and how to overcome them to keep that motivation high and the positive vibes going!
1. Earbuds – I don’t know if it is just me or if the rest of the population struggles with this, but unless they are the old school 90’s headband earphones, mine DO NOT STAY in my ears when I am running. And then there are the cords that get caught on everything. And the buttons that malfunction when you sweat too much. Frustration central.
Problem Solving Tip: Wear a headband/sweatband that hold the earphones in place, and try looping the cord behind your head to avoid the swinging arm or weight yanking-out-of-place situation. So far, it’s working for me. Bonus? Keeps your ears warm on frigid days!
2. Alarm Clock wake-up calls. I have it EXTRA special in that Lucy tacks on 25 minutes to my morning routine, so those alarms go off way, way too early sometimes. There’s a million remedies for sleep, and really the only problem solver is to GET MORE of it, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Life is too fun to sleep a lot anyway.
Problem Solving Tip: Set your phone or alarm on the other side of the room. Use the message section to write yourself funny, positive notes or even reminders. Just the act of getting up to turn it on, coupled with some kind of thought-provoking message really helps to wake you up. I currently have Christmas music as my alarm, because I’m a weirdo like that, but it really helps! Insta-happiness.
3. Sweaty clothes at work. Gross. Unavoidable? Not really, sometimes. I’ll find myself diving into my gym bag to get my favorite chapstick and go totally beet red because people around me MUST smell the sweaty goodness permeating from the bag. Not to mention my laundry basket has a much higher turnover rate than your average bear. Scented candles in my room are my best friend.
Problem Solving Tip: Take dryer sheets and put a few in your gym bag, and one in each shoe. Take a small plastic bag along with you to put sweaty clothes in, then put in your gym bag. It adds an extra layer of protection, plus you feel a little bit better that you’ve redeemed that anti-eco friendly decision of paying $0.10 for a bag when you should have used a tote. When those things fail, embrace it. You’re an athlete. Athletes sweat.
4. Playlists – does anyone really have a perfect one? Maybe it’s because I’m often lazy and default to radio on Spotify or Pandora, but nothing aggravates me more when I’ve settled into a running pace and a song comes on that I hate. Trying to run, typing in my password with unstable fingers to unlock my phone and switch the song to one that I like, meanwhile one of my earbuds just fell out and Lucy just yanked me trying to chase a bird…-___-
Problem Solving Tip: Spend some time on this. Create stations or lists that are fool-proof, tried and true, and that are high energy. Or hey, use it as an excuse to get mentally tough. Say mantras in your head during crappy songs. Talk to yourself. Run faster out of anger. You choose.
5. Tightness and Soreness. While it feels amazing in its own way, exhausted and tight muscles are tough to deal with. Lactic acid builds up, your calf maybe feels like it has a golf ball inside of it, perhaps your IT band is causing a minor limp as you walk. None of this is a fun or sexy part about working out.
Problem Solving Tip: STRETCH and ROLL. I’ve talked about my love affair with the foam roller before, and there’s a reason. It really releases tension and buildup, increases circulation (read: less cramping), and actually helps with flexibility for when you stretch. Stretching POST workout helps your overall state of fitness and allows your muscles to take on more over time. Plus, it just feeeeeeels good. Sure it’s time consuming and seems like a chore after a hard workout, but put a slow song on, take deep breaths, and do it.