There are few people, places, or things that make me feel as powerful and free as a killer workout does. There’s just something about sore muscles, sweat dripping down my face, and pure “me time” that makes me feel… me.
But let’s be real for a minute. The gym isn’t everything. Even when it comes to health! Seriously! There are a few things that should (almost) always come before hitting a workout.
- Proper Nutrition. I’m not talking about crazy cleanses, juice diets, supplements, or fads. I’m talking about basic nutrition habits like eating plenty of fruits and veggies, getting enough protein, staying properly hydrated, and eating enough food to fuel a workout in the first place.Without the proper nutritional foundation, you can say, “bye bye” to any true advancements in the gym. You’ve got to eat to grow, and you’ve got to eat right to grow right!
- Sleep. 7-9 hours a night. No more no less. Stop trying to sleep-hack your days to make more time for work or the gym. Your body and your mind need their snooze time and you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise.
Sure, going to the gym the day after a restless night isn’t going to kill you. But if you’re repetitively not sleeping enough, you’d be better off figuring that situation out before jumping on the treadmill or busting out curls.
- Fostering healthy supportive relationships. Your life is only as good as the people in it. If your relationships are hurting (family, friends, significant others, etc.) you can all but guarantee the rest of your life will take a beating too.
It’s OK (and fully suggested!) to skip a workout if it means fostering a relationship that’s important to you. Your abs can wait – grandma shouldn’t have to.
- Mental health.Mental health and physical activity are directly related. Working out has been shown to be equally effective at treating depression as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). So, by all means – sweat away if it helps your mental health.
What I’m talking about is taking the time off when and if you need it to recharge, relax, re-organize, and sort things out in your mind before worrying so much about your body. If Thursday hits and your anxiety is through the roof and you know stepping into the gym is only going to make it worse, SKIP IT. That’s OK.
I love the gym. It’s truly my second home. But sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that working out isn’t everything – it’s just a piece of a much larger puzzle.