When the going gets tough, the tough keep working out

Man's Corner


Jumping into a new health and fitness programme is an incredible way to actively take control of your life and really ramp up your personal development: working towards becoming so much fitter and feeling all that better about yourself, physically as well as emotionally.

canning2The reality, however, is slightly different, and many people find that with the stresses and high toll of today’s frenetic work environment – where employers are increasingly demanding more from their workers – they soon find they either haven’t the time or the inclination to stick to the programme, and quickly fall back into their old and sedentary ways. The cherished dream of a brilliant body and vastly improved health can easily vanish in a flash.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Here, we’re going to look at some steps you can take to ensure that when the going gets tough at work, you won’t have to sacrifice your health and fitness programme. After all, it’s not just about coming up with a new, life-changing routine; it’s also about staying motivated, sticking firmly to it and actually getting the amazing results you’re after.

You’re loving it!

First of all, it’s important to realise that not everyone is suited to the same fitness plan and you need to focus on what’s best for you. Hate treadmills? Then avoid them and opt for a stationary bike, swimming or something else instead for the cardio part of your programme. If you dread the drudgery of a workout you simply don’t like, your mind will come up with constant excuses to avoid it: rough day at the office – you deserve to just slump into the sofa and watch TV for the evening, and on it goes.

By carefully selecting what you actually like, you’ll be more inclined to look forward to that swim or tennis match after a day at work – a great way to release stress and get your exercise for the day in. So at the outset, choose what you like for your workout plan instead of what you think you should be doing. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re moving and getting that heart rate right up.

You’re a pal!

The road to great health is literally littered with all manner of temptations that threaten to make you ditch the entire thing and indulge in unhealthy treats and behaviours. One highly effective way to stay on track is to develop your health and fitness programme with one or more people.

They can be friends at work or elsewhere who share the same goals. So now, when you’re feeling like you’re not up to a workout, that pal is tugging on your arm – and pulling you right in to the gym, and hopefully you’ll be doing the same for them when they’re feeling unenthused. It’s motivational peer pressure that’s perfect to keep you going, and there’s definitely strength in numbers.

Beat the boredom

Another thing to bear in mind if you’ve had a bad day at work and are not looking forward to a workout is to vary what you do in the gym. Even top athletes easily become bored with exercise routines, and it’s not only mental: mixing up what you do – whether it’s cardio, strength training or something else – also helps to keep the body on its toes. That’s because if you keep doing the same thing over and over, working the same muscle groups the same way, you can quickly plateau and not experience any more gains.

So think about constantly introducing new workouts into your regimen so that your mind and your body stay alert, and you’ll be more eager to try something new after a hard day’s work than not wanting to do the same old thing again. Ask your gym fitness instructor for ideas or, if you’re working out in a home gym, look up the many exercise resources on the internet.

Take a break

Finally, one thing to remember in all of this is that sticking to your exercise plan means realising that there are days when you just won’t be up to it, and that’s fine (as long as there are not too many of them). With the heavy workload we all carry, some days you may not have the energy for a workout, and it’s important then not to push yourself or it might result in injury. So don’t be hard on yourself (give yourself a break – you deserve it!) and you’ll be all the stronger for the next workout.

Most health and fitness plans soon crumble – don’t let that happen to you. Start off slowly, and gear up to an amazing new you, despite the tough job.

Stephen Canning is a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post where he writes about emerging trends, the changing workplace, work/life balance and the power of social media. You can also follow him on twitter @Canning_ and visit his website for some really excellent content.