It’s Not About The Destination, It’s About The Journey
How To Enjoy Life More
How To Get More Out Of Your Current Training Program
What are your health and fitness goals? Are you working hard? Are you seeing progress? Are you enjoying the process or does it sometimes feel like pointless effort with little reward?
It doesn’t matter what you are training for – fat loss, a powerlifting competition, a 24 hour adventure race or a 5km fun run – you know the saying – it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. So are you enjoying it? Or is it turning into a chore?
We all have ups and downs in our progress. Sometimes it can feel like there are more downs than ups – when you reach a fat loss plateau, when a training session feels harder than it should, when you get bored from doing the same thing again, when you feel tired and lousy instead of bubbling with energy. You may be going through the motions with your nutrition and training, but you wonder What’s the point? if you’re not getting the results that you once did. Keep going like this, and you beat yourself up about underachieving, and sooner or later you’ll fall completely off the bandwagon and slide backwards into disrepair.
There is a way around this. And that is to enjoy the journey.
Enjoying The Fitness Journey
I have to admit I’m not perfect. This may come as a shock to you, but sometimes I don’t enjoy training. I’m usually training for various competitions so I have a fairly strict training program, and if I miss a day, it’s incredibly hard to make up. This means I cannot miss a day. I have to be organised to make sure I get it all in, and sometimes this can feel like a chore if I have a lot of other things to do, or if I’m tired and just want to relax.
When you no longer enjoy each training session, you need to bring more joy into it.
Write down a list of physical activities that you enjoy, that’s different to what you are currently doing. This might be hiking, swimming, trail running, orienteering, cycling, basketball, walking the dog at the beach or pursuing different sports. These activities do not have to take a long time – they can be as short or as long as you like. My own list of enjoyable activities is quite long, so make sure you take your time to think of everything you enjoy, and add to it when you think of more things, because this list is important.
Now you have your list, you need to pick one activity and do that just once per week on top of your regular training. So for example, at the moment I am training specifically for a powerlifting competition. This is 3-4 days of specific training per week. I’m usually quite exhausted from that, so don’t do anything else. But in order to enjoy my physical activity, I make an effort to add one more training day that includes a trail run, some kettlebell sport training, some Olympic lifting, a rogaine or some strongman training. Because I get so much joy from these activities, it makes my training week much more fun and enjoyable. In fact, I look forward to each training week, because not only am I doing my prescribed training, but there is always one surprise day with something fun planned.
Enjoying The Nutrition Journey
Eating purely for health, physical performance or fat loss can often feel like a chore. If you don’t enjoy cooking, or you are not very good at it, you may end up eating the same things over and over again and sooner or later you’ll get bored with it.
Depending on your nutrition protocol, there are 2 ways you can go about enjoying your food.
- If your nutrition protocol incorporates treat meals, I suggest writing down everything you would really like to enjoy for your treat meal. And I don’t just mean some cheap fish and chips, unless that’s something that gives you great pleasure. Write down some food items that you get a lot of joy from – really special things that make your taste buds swoon. For example: specialty chocolates from your favourite chocolatier, a slice of cake from your favourite patisserie, a meal at your favourite restaurant with a glass of top shelf wine or perhaps some gelato from your favourite gelataria.When it comes to your treat meal, you now have a list of things that make you go oooh ahhhhhh instead of some random bit of junk food that you don’t even enjoy. Usually these oooh ahhhhhh types of foods are much more satisfying and you don’t need a lot to get a lot of pleasure from them. This is a really great way to look forward to your treat meal and seriously enjoy your food, rather than see every single meal as a chore.
- If your nutrition protocol does not allow for any treat meals, then you need to find ways to treat yourself that fit within your plan. Firstly, many restaurants have seriously delicious meals that are actually good for you too. For example, recently I went to my favourite pub planning to have a real treat, and the meal that appealed to me most on the menu was peppered salmon, smashed peas and salad. This was 100% healthy and I would be happy to eat this any day of the week. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have to say it was the best thing I’d eaten in a long time!A second option is to come up with healthy versions of your favourite treats. There are lots of recipes online that will have some swoon-worthy treats for you that are actually healthy and fit within your guidelines. You can search the recipes on my site here or if you are on a strict diet (or even if you are not) have a look at Chocolate Chilli Mango where you are bound to find something that fits your calorie and macro requirements.
Enjoying The Life Journey
So we have covered training and nutrition, but that’s not all there is to life, right? So there’s one more list you need to make. This time I want you to write down EVERYTHING that you really enjoy. Things that you would drop anything to do. Things that once you get into the flow, you get so absorbed that you lose track of time. This might be playing guitar, painting, reading, fishing, gardening, watching a movie, catching up with old friends, relaxing by the beach, or perhaps this might also include some of your most enjoyable exercise activities. As with your other lists, take your time to think of everything you take great pleasure from, and add to the list as you think of more things.
The rule is at least once per week you must do one of these activities. If you are stuck in the rut of going to work, training, eating, sleeping and little else, I guarantee this will make your week a real pleasure.
If you can do all these things:
- One enjoyable physical activity
- One (or more, depending on your guidelines) truly enjoyable meal
- One other activity that is so enjoyable you get lost in it
…then your weeks will be much more enjoyable. If you are finding you have more downs than ups in your training, then this will bring more pleasure to your journey and it won’t matter how long it takes to get to your destination because you will be gaining pleasure every step of the way.
As a bonus, there is more to this than simply enjoying yourself. When you do things that you thoroughly enjoy, this keeps your stress hormones in check. When your stress hormones are too high or too low, you will not get the results you want. When they are at their optimal levels, you will get much better results.
But wait, there’s more! As a double bonus, it’s not just your adrenals that you want to keep in check. When your happy neurotransmitters are at healthy levels, this will also help keep your stress hormones where they should be, and again you will get much better results. It’s true what they say – healthy mind, healthy body.
I personally have been doing this all year and I have to say the occasional chore of having to train and eat well each week is greatly outweighed by the pleasure I get from the enjoyable activities. Not only that, but I am seeing more progress… which in turn gives me more happiness. And the cycle of progress and happiness continues 🙂
I would love it if you try this for a week or a month… or even more… and let me know how you go.
I like writing. I like knowledge. I like sharing my knowledge. $3.50 buys me a coffee, which puts me in a creative writing mood; $5.50 covers the website’s costs for a month. Any donation is most welcome.