Quiz: Are you swinging in the pendulum effect in your commitment to working out?

And What Your Relationship History Can Show You About Your Workouts

When I was in college and had just started dating someone new 3 months after breaking up with the last guy, I remember my best friend saying I had fallen into the pendulum effect.  She said we tend to basically have two modes when seeking a partner:  finding a different version of the same person you always date, or swinging completely to the other end of the spectrum. I had swung from someone very low key and gentle, to someone whose energy was all over the place.


So what does this have to do with your workouts?  I have been working in yoga and fitness for 10+ years and at some point, the pendulum effect became glaringly apparent in the gym.  Just like relationship pendulum, there is a workout pendulum.


Here’s what the workout pendulum looks like…when we approach the gym we stick to the same exact rhythm for extended periods of time (same hour on the elliptical, same strength routine…), and then swing to inactivity, and from inactivity to over doing it (“I’m working out every day for 2 hours hard core!”) so quickly we get sore (or injured, or discouraged) and swing right back onto the couch with the ice cream.  Does this sound familiar?


So how do we stop the pendulum swinging and find a nice rhythm in which we can stay happily motivated and keep moving in a variety of ways that we enjoy and that does our body good?


Well, many years have passed since those pendulum college days and I have since found myself in a happy, steady relationship.  I have also collected my favorite ways of helping people get off the workout swing.


First, how can you tell if you are swinging in the pendulum effect?


Take this quick quiz…ask yourself the following questions.


1.  Do you go for long periods of time without physical activity, then get a sudden burst of energy (or “motivation” such as bathing suit season, being a brides maid in a friends wedding, or someone you know fitting into some new sexy jeans?!?) and start a full force workout routine the next day, which you may maintain for up to a week before it completely exhausts you?

2.  Are you an infrequent flyer at your favorite exercise or yoga class?  When you do show up do your classmates say, “So glad you are here!  It’s been a while!”  You get geared up to go, you pack your clothes in the morning, you go right to class after work, and the next day you forget your clothes, so you decide you’ll workout at home, but by the time you get home you are distracted by the laundry list of things you simply need to get done first.  And then…well you know what happens.

3.  Do you flit around from one type of movement to to the next trying this and that just waiting to find the thing that really works for you, not committing to any of it and eventually end up deciding you’re not cut out for this workout stuff anyway…that you’ll take some time off and maybe try again soon.


If any of those sound familiar…keep reading.


How do you get off of that swinging pendulum and ground yourself in a happy active lifestyle?


We have all heard the advice before, find something you like to do.  I completely agree, but there’s a deeper story. 

The only effective workout is the one you will do, and you are more likely to do it if you like it.  I have my bag of tricks that maybe wouldn’t be fun for you, and likewise I may not like your thing.  (I have had a couple iron man triathlete clients, some marathoners, and even LONGER distance runners, I have loved supporting them on the fitness floor and with yoga and body work, but you will NOT find me in one of these events!)  The truth is, even with the things you like doing, there will be times you don’t want to do them.  What to do then?



Well, there’s the “show up anyway tactic”. 

I use this one all the time with my yoga practice.  For me yoga is home base, it is the place I always return to.  It is the thing that when I am at my worst, it shows me a glimpse of my best.  And still there are days that I just don’t want to practice.  I remember a former teacher of mine once said, “The hardest pose is getting on the mat.”  Just start.  Even when you think you don’t want to, maybe you are just too busy in your head, or stuck in a sour mood.  Starting your thing may be just the thing to bring you that glimpse of awesome that you are.



Of course, sometimes it is appropriate to take time off. 

If you are in need of downtime, either due to being over extended, ill, or truly need to put your focus and attention elsewhere you certainly get a day or days off.  The thing to be careful with here is to not swing with the pendulum.  Take your self-care time, and notice when it is time to get moving again, and get right back at it.  You’ll feel all the better for the break and keep your momentum.



The underlying thing here is self awareness. 

In my experience as a personal trainer, I have seen people use their workout to avoid dealing with what may be going on emotionally.  I would love for you to find that thing that you do because it has emotional availability to you.  I used to teach Zumba Fitness ®.  I would tell my students that dance is an emotional workout, and to allow themselves to be moved on all layers.

Any type of movement can do this.  Dance did it for me, but running, biking, weight lifting, yoga, wind surfing, roller derby, you name it, allow it to move you.

Allow your movement to be the thing that soaks through the physical layer and into the more subtle layers of your being.  This way you will have a deeper cause rooting for you when you are swinging on the pendulum (or caught in inertia) to get grounded in a rhythm that moves you.  And maybe clear up some relationship karma too!



Craving a community where movement is medicine,

where body practices are nourishment, not punishment?

Join the discussion in my private Facebook Group e-motion HERE!


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