It happens to the best of us: You wake up one morning, brush your teeth, pick out your clothes… but when you try to put your pants on, they don’t fit anymore. You realize you’ve gained a little weight. You indulged a little too much over the holidays or your social life has gotten in the way of getting to the gym — whatever the reason you fell off the fitness train, it’s never too late to hop back on.
But just because you’re motivated to lose weight and get fit doesn’t mean you should stop practicing self-care. Sure, one can argue that working out and dieting is self-care, but the type we’re talking about here is the kind of care you do for your mental well-being. Taking a break, having fun, and giving yourself a treat every now and then may seem like little things, but they can help keep you sane. Don’t forget to do these things while pursuing your fitness goals.
Spend Time with Man’s Best Friend
If you have a dog at home, it is downright rude to leave him at home chasing his tail while you hit the gym. Your four-legged friend could be the perfect workout buddy if you let him! Dogs are great motivators for getting fit, because they are your biggest fan and always believe in you. Plus, their boundless energy is infectious. Try incorporating some high-intensity interval training into your daily walks or spend your weekend playing outdoor sports with your pup. Not only do you get in a good workout, but the extra exercise makes your dog happier, healthier, and less likely to act out at home.
Take Care of Your Gut
We’re not talking about your intuition or that little pooch you’re carrying around with you. The “gut” we’re referring to is your digestive system. When you change your diet, it’s not unusual to experience digestive issues. Rather than losing motivation to eat healthily, try incorporating more probiotic foods and natural snacks that contribute to your gut’s microbiome– the 10-100 trillion microorganisms that live in your digestive system. When your body’s microbiome is healthy, you are better able to digest foods comfortably. Furthermore, your gut health affects you in other ways. There is increasing evidence that shows tending to your body’s microbiome can improve your overall mood. Microbes secrete feel-good neurotransmitters, including GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, into the body. When your microbiome is compromised, these levels can dip, leading to a negative mood.
Prevent Sore Muscles
After a long, grueling workout, you may just want to take a shower and hit the hay. But if you don’t take the time to unwind, you may end up with sore muscles in the morning, which discourages you from working out until you feel better. To prevent aching muscles, remember to stretch before and after your workouts, and always do a warm-up and cool-down. Drink plenty of water while you exercise and incorporate plenty of water-rich foods into your diet.
Finally, instead of a quick shower, treat yourself to a warm bath with Epsom salts. Epsom salts — scientifically known as magnesium sulfate heptahydrate — help your body absorb magnesium, an essential mineral that supports the immune system, regulates blood pressure, strengthens bones, and improves sleep. An Epsom salt bath relaxes your skeletal muscles by flushing lactic acid buildup and regulating muscle and nerve function. Furthermore, taking a warm bath before bed can improve sleep, which is crucial for your weight loss and fitness goals.
Balancing Self-Care & Fitness Goals
You’re ready to work toward your fitness goals — that’s great! Just don’t forget to take the time to relax and care for yourself when you need it. If your healthy diet is wreaking havoc on your digestive system, add probiotic foods to your diet to help regulate digestion and improve your mood. Working out with your dog makes the process fun while giving him the exercise he needs. Finally, sore muscles can really put a damper on your motivation. Prevent aches and pains by stretching, warming up, cooling down, and relieving soreness with a warm Epsom salt bath.
Brad Krause created SelfCaring.info after years spent putting his own self-care on the back burner. His goal now is to educate people on the importance of self-care by providing tips and tricks that are easy to implement.