Hello everybody, welcome to episode 124 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and we’ve got a lengthy question today on joy from exercise that’s more physically health driven than we’re used to. This listener has nonetheless found herself in a conundrum and to me, it’s a conundrum that mirrors a lot of what we can face in our mental health as well. Let’s take a look and see if we can help her re-organize a bit and make the most of the new found confidence she goes on to describe. Here’s the question…
QUESTION: “Last year, I learned how to swim and promised myself that by the end of 2020 I’d master it. But all the swimming pools were shut down and it has been 5 months since I last swam.
During quarantine, I started working out at home and practicing yoga and have discovered that I really like moving my body, and any training that involves physical movement brings me a lot of confidence and joy! My body and mind have transformed in a way that I never had imagined before!
But now that the swimming pools have reopened, I don't know how to schedule my workouts anymore. When they were closed, I used to do a 60-75 minute muscle-group and inversion workout which in itself is a lot more intense and leaves me tired.
I'm afraid I've forgotten what I learned about swimming and because of this fear, I'm avoiding the pool. On the other hand, I feel, if I don't do my yoga and muscle-group specific workouts enough, I'd lose the form I've built and it'd take me longer to master inversions.
It might seem like I'm wanting to do a lot of different things at the same time, but all these are mentally rewarding for me. Now I just feel guilty of missing out one thing or another. I want to be better at all of them…not miss out on anything! So, how should I plan my weekly training sessions to incorporate everything–maximize my joy from exercise and progress in every training I do and minimize the guilt?”
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Before I begin, this is another question that will also be answered on Optimal Health Daily by Dr. Neal in addition to here–another lucky listener that has earned herself two episodes in the network.
As I said, this is a question driven by physical health more than mental health…to the untrained eye.
What I’m seeing here is that you’re feeling overwhelmed by so many sources of meaning – which is probably the purest form of FOMO (fear of missing out) one could ask for, and something I struggle with myself. It sounds to me like we both know what’s at the core of solving this problem, and that’s the fact that sacrifice is going to have to exist somewhere.
And it’s awesome that we can explore sacrifice in a scenario like this, because my guess is that if you’re this torn from deriving meaning from exercise, you’re highly susceptible to someday being this torn over other equally important or more important areas of life – such as choosing between relationships, jobs, places to live, or anything in between.
Best to learn how to sacrifice now before you find yourself in a scenario like one of those which can become more painful and less flexible – pun intended.
So I see this as not only a good problem to have, but a useful problem to have.
Where Do You Get The Most Joy From Exercise?
I think there are two ways you can answer this question for yourself, and the first is from the practical standpoint you alluded to at the end of your question – so how to efficiently rewire your training sessions.
What you’re going to have to settle on is where you derive the most joy when it comes to working out (if the joy of exercise is indeed what you want to gain from it).
Do you get the most joy from total mastery, total diversity, or a blend of the two? This question is really going to be your guiding light, and if you want to have a plan going forward, it’s going to be hard to come up with one if you avoid coming to a conclusion on that question.
Possible Training Regimens
Let’s explore training regimens for each of those options:
- A total mastery type of training would be picking between strength training, yoga/inversion training, and swimming, and committing 100% to it. This would mean rarely or mildly dipping into the other two if not completely eradicating one or both of them. The upside would be quick mastery that you’ve mentioned you seek, but the downside would be losing out on other sources of exercise that you enjoy.
- A total diversity type of training would probably be an ongoing three-day rotation. Swimming one day, yoga/inversion the next, followed by strength training. Rinse and repeat, very simple. The polar opposite of what I mentioned a moment ago, the upside would be maintaining all the sources of exercise that you’ve come to enjoy, but taking a longer time to make progress in any of them (though there is a lot to be said about cross training).
- Finally, a hybrid approach has some wiggle room. An example might be all swimming for 2 weeks, followed by 2 weeks of rotations to be a little swimming-heavy but still balanced. Or 2 weeks of yoga followed by 2 weeks of rotations to be a little yoga-heavy. You get the picture. This would allow you to devote a lot of concentrated time to mastery but still have diversity. And I would think that if you focus a lot for 2 weeks, the strides you made would not go away if they were being maintained even on a rotation schedule for the next 2 weeks.
Flexible Choices in Health and Life
As you can see, it really depends on deciding what you want most for yourself, and beyond that, you can make time for this decision based specifically on how much you want it more than other things.
If you love swimming 100% more than other stuff, go for mastery.
If you like it a little more, go for the hybrid and be swimming-heavy.
If you really can’t decide, go rotational. And you can follow the ladder down if you like it a little less or much less.
And I sure hope none of you are falling asleep over there, because you can unquestionably do the exact same thing within the areas of life that we’re more apt to talking about on this show. Don’t let the structure of planning workouts fool you.
Underlying Guilt and Fear
Anyway, that was the practical side of it. But we mustn’t forget what’s underneath all of this, and that’s the guilt and fear you’re feeling.
It’s very much worth your time to explore what exactly you’re afraid of or feeling guilty about.
What exactly is the worst thing that would happen if you start lacking in any of these areas, whether or not you’re able to construct a new plan based on what I’ve talked about so far? Take some time and sit with that.
And once you do, once you’ve searched the depths of your soul and questioned what parts of your identity really matter in the grand scheme of things, I think you’ll find that nothing bad would happen. Not only because there is more to you than your fitness levels, but because of your adaptability.
Joy From Exercise: Believe In Your Adaptability
If you don’t believe in your adaptability, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice, because you’re extremely adaptable.
How do I know this? I know this because you’ve already adapted. Before yoga was but a twinkle in your eye, you were hooked on swimming; fully engaged, full of joy, and promising yourself mastery. Then what happened? Your plan was upended by the coronavirus, and you found something else that was equally meaningful.
Yes, you didn’t have a choice in the matter, which is one of the many examples of how too many options can be obnoxious and it’s often preferable to have less freedom in this way, but still, you proved to yourself that you could rebound and find joy and confidence regardless. Give yourself credit for that.
You’re going to handle this change just fine, and as we’ve said, a change has to come. You’re too tired for a reason, and your body is telling you that it can only handle so much. Listen to it and move forward with a choice that’s meaningful and tailored exactly to how enthusiastic you are about it.
Your physical health is going to stay great, and you can now count on your mental health to keep pace.
Thank you so much to the woman who sent this question in. It was a wonderful opportunity to look at how we can shuffle our lives accordingly, take bits and pieces of our desires and live them out appropriately.
I hope this answer helps you, I hope your able to find a routine that works out for you (another intended pun) and of course, I hope you’re starting to give yourself some more credit for your adaptation skills.
That’s it for this one though, folks. Got questions of your own? Email them to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We’ll take them there and create episodes for you like we did today – doing our best to help you out with whatever you need. Thanks so much for being here everyone, have a wonderful rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you next time.