I get a lot of questions about what to do right after a workout. Stretch? Foam roll? Walk? Eat? Don’t eat? Have a protein shake? Carb up?
All of these questions are valid and are worth going into on an individual basis. However, if you’re just beginning to workout the most important thing to focus on has very little to do with what you do physically. Whether you eat or don’t eat, stretch or just race home, it’s much more important to pay attention to how you talk to yourself.
After your workout, what’s your self talk like? Is it “Wow I’m really out of shape.” “This was so hard, I suck.” “Wow everyone else did so much better than me. I’m weak.”? If so, you’re really sabotaging yourself mentally. If after every workout you’re beating yourself up, it’s going to be much tougher to get to the gym down the road. You’re brain is going to learn to associate working out with feeling bad and leave you feeling unmotivated.
However, if you try to focus on the good parts and encourage yourself the opposite can happen. If you say “Hey I was tired but I’m glad I went!” “I worked up a really good sweat!” or “That was really challenging but I did it!” then you’re giving yourself a mental boost. Your brain will associate working out with feeling good physically and feeling good about yourself, leaving you more motivated in the long run.
Especially after a tough workout, a workout I didn’t feel like doing, I like to sit and take a minute to be proud of what I did. I’ll notice how good I feel mentally and physically and appreciate how I pushed through something even when I didn’t feel like it.
This way you associate working out with feeling good. Next time you don’t want to workout your brain can pipe in with “Hey remember that time you didn’t feel like working out but it made you feel so much better?” It’s a little change, but if you’re struggling to stick with a program, try focusing on how it makes you feel better.