Forget “No Pain, No Gain”: Give Yourself the Gift of Pain Free Fitness

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Stefanie Johnson


Imagine this:  Your New Year’s resolution is to lose a substantial amount of weight.  Every day for six months, you doggedly push yourself out of bed two frosty hours before sunrise, don a jogging suit and run miles to the gym, where you spend an hour on a treadmill and lift weights until your muscles and joints scream in agony. You run home again, shower, and then head off to work, fresh as a daisy, whistling a jaunty little tune.


It’s a beautiful dream but here’s the reality:  You try your intense pre-dawn exercise regimen for a couple of days. You lose steam when you don’t get the immediate results you were hoping for, and feel utterly exhausted from all your hard work.  During one of your sessions, you push too hard and up injuring yourself. Then you give up.  You tell yourself it “hurts too much,” “it’s no fun,” and “it’s not worth it.”  You say “some people just aren’t meant to be fit.”  You get depressed at your inability to follow through with your goals, and end up gaining even more weight.


This is a vicious, self-destructive cycle, and its time to break free from it!     One of the keys to breaking free is to toss out the old adage “no pain, no gain.”  It’s simply not true, as prove by study after study!


You can attain your fitness goals.  You just need the right mindset.  Many approach fitness with an all-or-nothing attitude, and it’s an attitude that leads to failure and injury more often than not.  


Instead, approach your fitness goals with these 10 no-pain commandments in mind, and you will have a much greater chance of success:


1- Start Slowly

Too much, too fast, can lead to injury and completely derail you.  Start all workouts gently.  Warming yourself up with a brisk walk or gentle, repetitive movements is best and may help to prevent strain.   


2- Know Your Limits

Know where you are within your body.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and be realistic about your current level of fitness and what you have to work with right now.  And remember, as you gain fitness, you workouts will likely change in intensity over time.  So don’t feel the need to punish your body … take it one step at a time.   


3- Be Patient With Yourself  

Never treat your body like the enemy.  It’s not something to be whipped into shape.  It’s your vehicle, your home, your shelter.  Treat yourself with kindness, and don’t punish yourself if you don’t see immediate results.


4- Your Time Belongs to You

Only you can decide what schedule is right for you.  Perhaps you prefer a more structured environment, like a class.  If your circumstances don’t allow for that, consider investing in some workout equipment (though make sure it’s equipment you will truly use and enjoy) or workout DVD’s, which you can do at your leisure.  You could do all your exercise at once, in one big block, or smaller increments throughout the day. Choose whatever fits you best and makes you feel the most energized. 


5- Mix it up!

This is about having fun and being healthy.  Doing the same old routine all the time gets stale fast. Don’t be afraid to try new things!  Whether it’s Salsa dancing or Pilates, if you’ve wondered about it, give it a try.   


6- Don’t Go It Alone

Having a support group can make all the difference in the world when times get tough.  If you can get family or friends to join you for your workouts, do it!  If that doesn’t work out, they can still provide you moral support and might even suggest new activities for you to try. 


7- Drink To Your Health!

It’s important to drink enough fluids to make your body work its best, especially if you’re exercising in warm weather.  Dehydration can be extremely dangerous.  However, there is also such a thing as being over hydrated.  There really is no hard and fast rule as to how much you should drink a day, so the best thing to do is figure out what amount works best for your system.  For a super refreshing post-workout drink, try putting a few drops of pure lemon juice in ice cold water or tea.    


8- Get Plenty of Rest

A tired body doesn’t work as well as a rested one.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re sabotaging your efforts to get healthier.  So don’t sacrifice too many zzz’s for a morning jog.  The stress you’re putting on your body may cancel out the benefits.  


9- Treat Yourself

This isn’t about pain and denial.  This is about health and joy.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with indulging yourself with a favorite treat, so long as you do it in moderation.  In fact, having a nibble of chocolate or something similar right after a workout might help you stay motivated.  That way it’s a pleasure, and a reward. 


10- Have fun!

This is the most important thing of all!  Fun will help keep you motivated.  Look forward to each workout and how good it’ll help you feel.  Life can be challenging enough as it is, so take this time to enjoy being in your own skin.


Remember, at the end of the day, it’s not about the inches you shed or a number on a scale, or even about fitting into your skinny jeans.  It’s about how well you feel and how happy you are.  


That’s the greatest gift you can give yourself this year, or any other.


“Never hurry. Take plenty of exercise. Always be cheerful. Take all the sleep you need. You may expect to be well.”
-James Freeman Clarke


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Posted on 5 January, 2009 in Fitness & Health, Goals
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