This is NOT a blog post about how to do your High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) routine or what exercises you should do or how to do them correctly, (I would be the worst person to give advice on that) but this is a post about giving up, and why you shouldn’t.
Now, that I almost gave away the conclusion of the post in the first paragraph, let me start the story from the beginning.
I joined the Data School very recently and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that almost every morning the office turns into a workout area. So “the gym is too far, I can’t be bothered to go,” was no longer an excuse. With an acceptable yoga background, some gymnastics skills that I acquired at age four, and loads of determination, I rocked up to join the HIIT workout, because well..how hard can it be…? I mean, I have done those 10 minute videos on Youtube …it will be fine…
If you have done HIIT before…don’t smile at my naivety, it’s not nice. If you haven’t done HIIT before then let me tell you those 10 minute videos on Youtube don’t set very realistic expectations of what it actually entails!
Anyway, approximately 15 minutes in (might have been even less), we were preparing to do circuits and I was already feeling ready to hit the showers and call it a day. But you can’t go to a workout session and abandon right after it has started, especially not when you are surrounded by your brand new colleagues who clearly know what they were doing. So there I was, struggling my way through the exercises and coming to (what I thought was) the end of the workout, when the trainer casually announced that “well done, you are halfway through the circuits”. I thought he was joking…because what he was saying was that I needed to do all those things I had just barely survived through….AGAIN.
In that moment I felt that there was absolutely no way I was finishing the circuits… I would do one more exercise and then they would just have to scoop me off the mat! Walking away was no longer an option anyway as that would have required me to stand up and walk, so I crawled to the next mat, and did as much of the exercise as I could as well as I could do it (which wasn’t very well at all, little more than lying motionless on the mat). When I got the “this is the last straw, I am not doing this anymore” feeling, the bell dinged and the sequence was over so I had done my “one more exercise” and was ready to crash. But I didn’t want to cause an obstruction on the circuit so I decided to move out of the way onto the next mat and do nothing when I got there. Surprisingly, during that 30 seconds break (while moving from one mat to the other) a tiny bit of my energy recovered so I ended up doing a bit of the next sequence…and then a bit of the next one…and the next one. And finished the circuits…and a couple of other sequences after that. If you are sat there imagining this instant superhero moment, let me tell you that it was not the case and I was still really slow and sometimes hardly moved, but I did realise that I had a lot more energy stored away than I thought when I initially decided to do one more exercise.
So the moral of the story (aside from the fact that not going to the gym for three years really gets you out of shape) is that when you feel that you are way too tired, have explored all options and used up all resources, just know that there is a lot more energy left in you; be that brain power, creativity, physical strength…anything. All you need to do is allow yourself to rest for a little bit. Then try again, but don’t look at the “big picture” just yet, or how much you still need to do, just take (and think of only) one step at a time, and focus on completing just that one. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. You might not see the end result yet, or you might see it and it might seem overwhelming and can’t imagine yourself being able to get there. That’s completely fine, as long as you do just one more exercise. Because that, you CAN do.