I started spinning almost two years ago. The first couple of times I went, I hated it. But I knew I needed to add some low-impact cardio to my exercise routine, and so I gave it a few more times before I decided if it was for me or not.
Once I started going though, I started to really enjoy it. Spin classes often feel like (really hard) dance parties, and it’s difficult to hate doing something when there’s really good music playing. I also got to really enjoy the “high” I felt after it was over. And finally, I was lucky enough to find an amazing community to spin with! (Core Spin Club).
Lately, while spinning, I’d find myself coming up with some funny parallels in my regarding how similar spin and healthy eating were. So I decided to finally put a list together! Here are 18 surprising ways that spinning and healthy eating are similar:
1. Some days, it’s enough to just show the hell up!
You’re not going to “knock it out of the park” every day in spin, and you’re not going to eat amazingly well every day either. Sometimes, it’s just enough to show up, put your ass in the saddle, do the best you can, and go home. Comparing a bad day at spin to an amazing day is not going to make you feel any better – same with less than stellar days of eating.
But the act of showing up anyway when you’re not really “into it” and doing what you can, helps to cement healthy habits and it also demonstrates that it’s a priority in your life. “No, I don’t ‘feel’ like going to spin but it’s what I do every Tuesday morning” and “no, I don’t ‘feel’ like eating the leftovers I brought for lunch today”, but that’s what I do instead of ordering a burger and fries at McDonald's.
I liken a day of “just showing the hell up” nutritionally, to throwing a few carrots and cucumbers on the side of my pizza ;) The habit is including SOME type of veggie at every meal. And guess what? I can definitely do that as the minimum. If we didn’t do what we need to do just because we “didn’t feel like it” – we wouldn’t get very far in life, would we?
2. As motivating as your spin instructor may be, they can never make you actually do the work – that’s 100% on you!
Coaching people to eat well can be very gratifying but also very frustrating at times. I am sure it’s the same way for spin instructors. They get up there in front of everyone on their own bike, doing all the same exercises (while talking!!!), executing a well-planned workout, and at the same time, try to get everyone pumped up, motivated and working!
In a similar fashion, I get out there in front of my clients, eating the way I am asking them to eat, execute on my well-planned program and offer encouragement, support, feedback, and motivation. However, in both scenarios, that doesn’t mean that everyone is necessarily going to DO the work. You literally cannot make people do the work, OR do it for them.
3. You will never regret showing up for yourself
There are some days that you do not want to work out. You don’t feel like it. You’d rather be at home catching up on 90-Day Fiancé or hell, even doing the laundry – anything but working out. BUT after that 50-minutes is up (or 60 if you’re crazy) you NEVER regret the fact that you showed up for yourself.
The same is true with healthy eating. You may want to eat that bag of chips or those donuts that “Sally” brought into the office but you instead choose to eat what you brought in your lunch – and at the end of the day, you will never regret not having that donut or chips. Instead you feel proud of yourself, and you know that you can plan for that treat in the future instead. (Because you are committed).
4. Good music can make all the difference
You just finished a sweaty climb. And now that crazy instructor is telling you that you’re going to be doing a jog next (“you have got to be kidding,” you think to yourself). BUT, when the song that you’re going to be jogging to comes on, you realize it’s a really good one, and you somehow manage to pull yourself together and get up there and dance it out. (Current fave: Dance Monkey - thanks for playing that today, Devon).
The same is true when you don’t feel like you have much energy to put together a healthy meal or do some meal prep. It just feels like it’s too much…Until you put on one of your favorite songs and start a dance party in the kitchen. Who knows where that renewed energy actually came from! Who cares? Just use it.
5. There are going to be instructors you love and others who are “ok” – but they are ALL going to teach you something different – and you will be better for it
Don’t you hate it when you’re showing up to a spin class you signed up for days ago, only to find out there was a last minute sub? Hah! This is actually really good for you, because being exposed to different styles of teaching, cueing, music and personality are all really good for us. We are such creatures of habit.
This is precisely why I share tools and resources from other experts in the field with my clients. It can be really helpful to see how someone else explains the same topic. Sometimes someone says something that just “clicks”. And in spin, sometimes switching it up with different spin instructors broadens your horizons!
6. Sometimes you’re going to “borrow” energy from a neighbor, and sometimes you’re going to “lend” it!
Back again to having your ass in the saddle and that’s it. Those are the days you are going to be borrowing energy from those in the class. And that’s perfectly ok because you are going to be lending it to someone else another day!
My clients see everything I eat, and I see what they eat. They also have the option to interact with my other clients and my ambassadors on the app we use. It’s an excellent way for them to get ideas and inspiration from others as well as “borrow” and “lend” energy from others. It’s also a really powerful form of accountability and support.
Also, you’re very lucky if you show up on a day that Stephanie does at Lake Bonavista because she has enough energy to share with the entire class!
7. A distraction here and there can help you stay the course (insert: pumps, dips)
Sure, focus is really important. After all, it’s focus that makes sure that you don’t fall off your bike in an “attack”. However, a little bit of distraction can be really helpful too, when you’re just trying to get through something difficult. For me, this always means a “jog”. Mostly I hate them because I am not very good at them, and basically I suck wind for a couple of minutes because I really want to stay on the damn beat. But when you can distract yourself with some pumps and dips, it really helps.
When it comes to nutrition, I actually teach my clients the importance of being hyper-focused on what they are eating – BUT, distraction can be really helpful when they doing related activities like meal prepping, chopping and cooking. A little bit of Netflix, music or vino are great distractions for what can sometimes be a pretty mundane activity.
8. Self-Talk Matters
“Come on, you can do it!” the spin instructors shout out. In your head, you think “screw you, no I can’t” – until you realize that you can and JUST DID and therefore, there might actually be some truth to this. I love encouraging my clients to persevere because I KNOW they can. Sometimes we need someone else to cheer us on and then once we have actually done it a few times, we can no longer agree with statements such as “I can’t”. Guess what? I have survived 100% of my spin classes, even when I didn’t think I was going to make it. In a similar fashion, my clients learn that habit patterns they once thought were impossible to change, aren’t.
9. Surround yourself with likeminded people
100% of all the people I spin with are likeminded in the sense that they have decided (at least for that day) to show up and make exercise a priority.
When you are trying to implement a new habit or behavior, it’s best to surround yourself with people who have already done it or share the same priority and goals. I love showing up to a spin class and saying hi to people I see regularly showing up – these are my people! We’re the show-up’er’s and do hard shit peeps!
To make any habit change or behavior change easier, change your environment and surround yourself with people who are already “doing it”.
10. Be prepared & set yourself up for success
Have you ever showed up to spin without a water bottle or sweat towel? It’s so not fun. When it comes to healthy eating, being prepared for your day/week/month is key. It sets you up for success in the same way that you show up for a spin class wearing appropriate attire and having the right “tools” to do the job well.
This part isn’t very sexy. It’s washing sweaty clothes, remembering to take your bag with a water bottle and sweat cloth when you leave the house and making sure you’re hydrated for the class (nothing is worse than spinning a wee bit hungover) ;)
The same when it comes to nutrition. This means writing lists, shopping for food, chopping and deciding what to eat every night. It could also mean getting groceries delivered to your house or meals delivered cooked and ready to your house.
But, in either of these situations, this is what the job demands if you’re going to be successful.
11. Plan in advance
Guess what happens when I don’t pre-book my classes on the MIND BODY app and just decide to “see if I feel like going to spin” in the morning? Ummmm, yep – I don’t go. Same goes for healthy eating. If you don’t bring your lunch to work and figure that you will just “choose something healthy” when you are starving at 12:30pm – the chances are pretty high that you’re not going to make the best choices.
12. Take a break when you need it. And then get back up there.
Sometimes you just need a break. Taking a break often ensures that you have the ability to persevere long term (i.e. the entire spin class). So when you need a break, you should take one. In spin class, this might mean sitting while everyone is standing, taking a bunch of gear off while everyone is adding it, or purposefully getting off the beat when everyone is on it. But what it never means is leaving the class entirely.
Sometimes, we all need to take the pedal off the gas for a day or two or week. Maybe it’s been a stressful week , or maybe even vacation. But taking a break looks a heck of a lot different than quitting. And taking a break also looks a lot different than saying f&*k it.
13. Listen to your own body
In my nutrition practice, I always remind people that we are going to “begin where you are”. (Because that only makes sense) Not ONE person who starts my 12-Week program is exactly the same as any other. Therefore, it’s extremely important for my clients to listen to their own bodies as we go through the program.
The same for spin. Everyone is at different physical abilities and what works for one will not work for all.
14. Don’t go “balls to the walls” on the first song. It’s called a warm-up for a reason.
The nutritional equivalent here is all-or-nothing thinking. It’s when clients plan on “eating perfectly” but lose motivation because it’s quite simply unsustainable. If you begin your spin workout working at an unsustainable level right out of the gate, you are going to get too tired too fast, will probably get way too discouraged, and then give up coming at all because “it's too hard”. Enough said.
15. It truly gets easier as your body and brain become accustomed to what you are asking of it.
What often stops us from pushing harder in spin class isn’t our bodies, but rather our brains. Our brain wants to protect us. Your spin instructor is telling you to “add-in” but your brain is saying “nope, that’s impossible”. But every single time that I have asked more of my body, it complies. And over time, I increase what I am capable of actually doing.
With nutrition, sometimes our bad habits seem impossible to change. But over time, if we ask for “small adds” consistently and persistently, what we once thought of as impossible soon becomes our new norm.
16. Some days are just going to feel easier than others
It’s a strange thing. Some days you feel like you are on top of the world in spin. The bike feels right, the music is amazing and you are hitting all those pumps and dips. And then on the next ride you feel sluggish, out of breath and frustrated.
Same in nutrition….maybe you made an amazing salad for lunch, said no to those donuts that Sally (that bitch) brought into the office AGAIN, had a workout and didn’t have any “snack-attacks” after dinner. Next day you’re grabbing a bar for breakfast because you have slept in, missed your workout and then your husband calls to say he’s working late and can’t make dinner (this is not my husband because he cannot cook, but lucky for you) and you find yourself in bed with a bag of chips at 8:30pm. You can’t win ‘em all.
But when you have a sub-par workout you still show up for the very next one, right? In nutrition, you show up for yourself the very next meal.
17. It’s supposed to be FUN!
The truth is that you are never going to sustain anything you hate for very long. You have to find ways to enjoy the things you know you need to do for yourself. So do what you need to do in order to keep things fun. In spin, go to the classes who have the instructors you love, at the times that work best for you. Don’t take it too seriously!
In nutrition, find ways to make cooking more fun! Maybe that means taking a cooking class with a friend, trying out a meal delivery service, doing a meal exchange with a bunch of friends, or buying a new cookbook. Put on some great music while you make dinner or meal prep, and remind yourself of why you are making this a priority in the first place – get excited about THAT!
BONUS: Important work is done in a dark room
Haha – I thought this was funny. I didn’t mean it in a perverted way, people! I meant that it’s not all about food. Being healthy also means other things like getting enough quality sleep!
In closing, I should probably note that “spin” could easily be replaced with other forms of exercise and activity. I just chose this one because it was (sometimes still is) really hard for me to do. And a lot of the points I am trying to make today have to do with sticking with something that may not come as natural or as easy to you as you may like (like healthy eating).
I hope you enjoyed this. I had a lot of fun finally expressing all the similarities. I’ll probably have to do a part two because I know there are more parallels. But I will leave it here for now.
The main take away is that no one can do the work for you. Surround yourself with a supportive community, know that every day isn’t going to be perfect, and have some damn fun!!