How to Overcome “That Sluggish Feeling” When It Threatens Your Workout Plan

There are a bunch of reasons why you might NOT work out today. Some are good, and many are not-so-good. Of all possible reasons, the one I really hate works like this.

1. You plan to work out that day. Then as the planned time nears, you start to feel a physical and/or mental sluggishness. Nothing dramatic, but you just don’t feel like working out. You start to flirt with the idea of taking the day off, considering various possible justifications.

2. But rather than explicitly, decisively declaring a day off – sometimes you need one, even if unplanned – you let minutes tick by without moving toward your workout OR deciding not to. Deep down, you might know what you’re doing, but you don’t admit it to yourself.

3. Then all of a sudden, voila, it’s “too late” for your workout. You missed the window of time you had before your next work, family or personal obligation. Even though you caused this, you don’t feel glad about the “can’t workout now” reality. You immediately feel like you’ve let yourself down.

This ever happen to you?  If so, you just fell victim to That Sluggish Feeling (“TSF”).  

I’ve devised a new response to TSF when it strikes. I don’t seek to move directly from sluggishness to exercise. Instead, I do a short, easy “bridge” activity in-between, to change my energy and get me into a better frame-of-mind to decide if I’m really, intentionally going to skip that workout. Here’s how it works.

by

There are a bunch of reasons why you might NOT work out today. Some are good, and many are not-so-good.

Of all possible reasons, the one I really hate works like this.

1. You plan to work out that day. Then as the planned time nears, you start to feel a physical and/or mental sluggishness. Nothing dramatic, but you just don’t feel like working out. You start to flirt with the idea of taking the day off, considering various possible justifications.

2. But rather than explicitly, decisively declaring a day off – sometimes you do need one, even if unplanned – you let minutes tick by without moving toward your workout OR deciding not to. Deep down, you might know what you’re doing, but you don’t admit it to yourself.

3. Then all of a sudden, voila, it’s “too late” for your workout. You missed the window of time you had before your next work, family or personal obligation. Even though you caused this, you don’t feel glad about the “can’t workout now” reality. You immediately feel like you’ve let yourself down.

This ever happen to you?  If so, you just fell victim to That Sluggish Feeling (“TSF”).  

You might think, “I really care about my fitness regimen…I should be able to overcome this by force of will, and never have it afflict me.” Well, that’s an awesome goal, brother. If you figure out how to tackle this head-on effectively, every time, then you’ve got me beat (and please tell me how!).

For myself, I’ve devised a different response to TSF when it strikes. I don’t seek to move directly from sluggishness to exercise. Instead, I do a short, easy “bridge” activity in-between, to change my energy and get me into a better frame-of-mind to decide if I’m really, intentionally going to skip that workout.

Here’s how it works.

WHEN “THAT SLUGGISH FEELING” STRIKES: A DIFFERENT APPROACH

The key is to recognize TSF kicking in, and to act about 10-20 minutes before the latest time you’d need to get changed and move toward exercise.

First of all, STAND UP, man. Sitting in a chair or lying on the couch is the worst posture from which to deal with TSF. Mickey kept shouting “Stay down, Rocky” but as we all know, Rocky got up. At least do this much!

Go drink 8+ ounces of water. Even if you wind up considering things and deciding not to work out after all, hydration is good. And possibly, by the way, TSF is coming from being a little dehydrated*.

Then, do one of these quick and low-grade physical activities, or design your own similar activity.

  • Do a quick household chore of some sort – empty the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, take out the trash, wash the windows in your car like you’ve been meaning to. Even if you don’t work out after all, at least you did something productive, dude.
  • Go for a 5- to 10-minute walk. Like literally up-and-down the street or around the block, in your neighborhood or near your office. The fresh air and stretching of your legs will do you good no matter what.

Finally, walk to where the first “action on the way to exercise” would take place. For example, walk over to your dresser where you’d put on workout clothes. Or if your first action would be packing up your briefcase and leaving the office, then go lay hands on your briefcase as if you were about to start packing up.

Maybe you still will decide to skip exercise if you honestly don’t feel well or you legitimately need more recovery from the prior day’s workout. These are real reasons, of course. But TSF tends to “cry wolf” on them more often than they’re real, and it seems extra persuasive if you’re having this internal debate while on your butt or your back, with your blood flowing sluggishly like an alligator in the hot sun.

But now you’re ready to consider things from a more balanced and ready position. You hydrated, you woke up your body a little and got the blood flowing, and you got yourself to the moment of truth in a better condition to make the right decision.

For myself, most of the time I’m feeling TSF, this routine helps me overcome it and get my workout in. And then I feel GOOD. Occasionally, I do opt to skip the workout but in such case, I know I clearly *decided* to, rather than just letting it “happen.”

* TSF can also come from not having eaten recently enough, or not having eaten quality foods that provide you with energy. Tackling this root cause probably needs to start tomorrow, since you’re not going to eat and then work out immediately. See this about eating smaller amounts, more frequently, to avoid this “under-energized” feeling.

CONCLUSIONS

In our quest to double down on body-and-soul health as we age, this occasional battle with TSF is just one of many small dramas that, in aggregate, determine our path forward.

In that bigger picture, succumbing to TSF on any given day is no big deal – it happens. But I think and fear that TSF begins to cascade, and gain power as our enemy, the more we let it have these wins. “Well, I’ll just workout tomorrow” becomes “I’ll just workout next week.” Then maybe next month, then maybe “I’ll make a New Year’s resolution.”

This reminds me of the last page from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms further . . . And one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

So be vigilant, man. Don’t let TSF and its sneaky rationalizations gain a solid foothold in your way-of-being. And next time you feel it creeping into your mind, try out this strategy!

 

 “Long distance runner, what you standin’ there for? Get up, get out, get out of the door.” (Grateful Dead, Fire on the Mountain—click to listen)

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

You may also like

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear

For Fast, Clear Results: Try This 10-15 Minute “Yoga Tonic” Each Morning

TWO QUESTIONS:

1. Are you mentally sold on the idea of yoga, but just not able to do it much because of other fitness and life priorities?

In my case, I’m ultra-sold, but I still only do a full yoga practice once a week. I don’t want to displace other workouts or my rest day. But I know I’m missing out on some of yoga’s benefits from this infrequency (especially the flexibility benefit). 

2. Do you feel sometimes feel stiff and sluggish when you get out of bed in the morning? I do.

For both of these reasons, I started doing this 10-15 minute mini-yoga practice most mornings.

I’ve noticed clear improvements in my flexibility and ability to really nail and hold some key poses. And it reliably limbers up and energizes me, too. 

If you’re a seldom-yoga guy, this will bring you (physical and also mental) benefits as a standalone habit. And if you do longer-form yoga practices with some regularity but it’s not feeling like “enough,” this consistent short-form habit will set you up for better performance when you do spend longer on the mat.

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness Motivation Breakthrough: Increase RELATIVE Motivation Via Micro-Goals

Here’s an ultra-common situation. Picture a 40+ guy (could be you, a relative, a friend) who: (1) Realizes his road is forking, with fitness/nutrition a huge determinant of which way he’s headed; (2) Knows, generally, how to get/stay fit and eat well (or at least, knows it’s easy to learn how); but (3) Doesn’t do much about it.

While “on’t have time” is a common explanation (especially for guys with young kids), this situation boils down to one problem and one solution. Motivation.

OlderBeast has discussed motivation often, but here let’s take at *Relative Motivation*. Said simply, Relative Motivation means maybe give yourself a break from thinking, “I’ve got to get motivated” and instead, think “I need to target even easier things, initially.”

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness Setbacks: You WILL Overcome! (Here are Suggestions to Help)

As 40+ guys living in the real world of work, family, and our own not-bulletproof anatomy, setbacks to fitness and nutrition plans are inevitable.

In the last decade, mine included plantar fasciitis (foot/heal pain), a strained rotator cuff, and sporadic right knee pain…not to mention crunch times at work that constrained exercise as effectively as any injury.

With “experience being the best teacher,” the OlderBeast tenets of fitness variety, workout/recovery sequencing, and personal time prioritization help minimize such setbacks. But still, they’ll happen – so here are a few suggestions for dealing with injuries and fitness interruptions in a way that minimizes impact, and even gets longer-term benefits from them.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.