Sticking To It Is Better Than Pushing Through It
Recently, I found myself scrolling through some #Fitspo accounts, and I saw so many posts about "pushing yourself". Push yourself to your limit! No pain no gain! Your mind quits far before your body does!
And it got me thinking... pushing yourself is deeply overrated.
Now, if you're a marathoner or a CrossFit junkie, or someone who has been deeply involved wand in love with fitness for a while, then sure, push yourself! Find your limits and break them. Compete with yourself. You're clearly doing well, so I won't tell you what to do.
But for beginners, or people who are trying to repair a broken relationship with fitness, perhaps pushing yourself isn't your best friend.
Scenario 1: You set out to run 1 mile. But you get tired, and you can't do it. You only make it .75. You failed your goal! And thus, you feel like a failure. You didn't do what you set out to do, and anything less is a failure.
Scenario 2: You set out to run until you're tired and you don't feel like running anymore. You make it to .75. Hey, nice! That's further than you would have gone if you stayed at home!
In both scenarios, you ran the exact same distance. But in one, you finish by feeling bad about yourself for failing, and in the other, you feel good about yourself for doing it at all.
But hey - let's back it up to scenario 1. You get to .75, and you feel terrible and want to stop. But you listened to the fitness memes and posts and push through! You make it to 1 mile! You're exhausted and in pain and sure, you feel a little bit proud of yourself, but more than anything, it sucked.
Here's where the problem comes in: Tomorrow, you're going to think back to that run. And you're going to remember that last .25 that was terrible and you're not going to want to go. You will have a bad taste in your mouth, and decide you'd rather not put yourself through that again.
Perhaps if you stopped when you wanted, you'd have a much better memory of your workout, and thus, you'd be much more likely to continue. Pushing yourself to get to 1 mile isn't the better alternative if you never run again. Only making it to .75 but sticking with it for days, months, or years is, in the long run, way better.
Sustainability is the healthiest choice. If going easy on yourself and stopping when you want to stop is what will make you stick with it longer, that is the right choice.