Top 10 ways get out of an exercise rut and stay motivated
Have you gotten to the point in your exercise program where you dread doing it? Has it become like a part-time job? You go put on your gym clothes, go through the motions, and then do it all over again the next day. You aren't getting results, your motivation is very low, and you find exercise to be extremely boring. Sounds like you are in an exercise rut. Here are 10 ways to get out of an exercise rut. 1. Take some time off There is a good chance that if you have been exercising for a long time you will experience burn out. It happens to the best of us, as well as the worst of us. Personally I take a whole week off a few times a year. Now that doesn't mean I sit on the couch eating cake with no pants on. I wear pants most of the time. What I mean is I take a week off from any structured exercise program. I might go for a hike, play basketball, etc... but nothing in the way of planned exercise. Since I am a creature of habit, it usually kills me to take some time off. It is just part of my daily routine that I have been doing for years, so my body does not like it at first when I take the week off. But after the week off, I am extremely excited to start back and those little nagging injuries that tend to come on with constant exercise start to fade away. 2. Remember why you started exercising Why are you doing all this? Wouldn't life be easier if you just sat on the couch, ate ice cream, and watched The Biggest Loser? At some time in your life you decided that exercise was something you needed to do. Think back why you started it. That reason may have changed along the way and you didn't even realize it. I first started exercising to get bigger and stronger for football. Then I started exercising to get rid of the bigger (fatter) me I had built. From there I have had different goals that have been aesthetic and performance based. When your goals match your training style you will be much more successful. One of my goals a few years ago was to deadlift 450 pounds. If I had gone out every day and jogged to reach this goal, it would not have happened. If your goal is to drop body fat/weight and you have not addressed the nutrition aspect of your training, you will not reach your goal. Your goals need to line up with your exercise plan. There is something very comforting knowing all you have to do is follow a specific plan and you will reach your goal. Also, you need to remember what emotion motivated you to get started. When I first started losing weight, my motivation was pretty simple. Stop being a fat guy and never turn back. If I ever feel myself slacking or need motivation, all I have to do is pull up a picture of myself 50 pounds ago. What will do it for you? Are you tired of begin sick and tired? Are you embarrassed by your body? Emotions are very powerful motivator, I recommend you tap into yours. 3. Try something new People who are avid exercisers are very susceptible to getting in a rut because they tend to stick to just one thing. Whether it be biking, running, strength training, or any other mode of exercise they tend to stick to that one thing. Why are you pigeonholing yourself into one workout for the rest of your life. Your body adapts very quickly to whatever you are doing. Change it up! Variety is the spice of life, go get some flavor in your fitness. Just came up with that phrase so feel free to use it. There are so many fitness options to choose from, surely you can find one you enjoy. Or you can even change the way you are doing the exercise you enjoy. Try changing the exercises, amount of weight, rest breaks, speed of the lifts, etc... This is one of the single most important things you can do to stay out of a rut. You will gain two major benefits, besides staying out of an exercise rut. The first benefit will be a reduction in overuse injuries. If you continually pound the pavement as a runner with no other type of training, chances are very good you will get injured. But if you mix in some other modes of exercise such as strength training or biking you will save yourself some pain. Also, your performance will get better by adding in other activities. Take the aforementioned runner who begins strength training to supplement his or her running program. By strengthening the entire body, this person will become a more efficient and faster runner with less chance of breaking down. Who wouldn't want that? 4. Work on small goals It is very common for people to quit or slack off on their exercise program because of unrealistic expectations. Their goal of "Lose 50 pounds in January", did not happen gain this year so that must mean that exercise does not work for them. Break it up into small goals, starting with performance goals. If you have been sedentary, completing a goal of "Exercise 3 times per week in January" would be a huge accomplishment. Often it is not one thing that will make you successful, but a combination of several smaller things. A fitness business professional named Pat Rigsby likes to say "Small hinges, swing big doors." Those little changes that may seem insignificant, can be crucial as you go forward. Accomplishing these smaller goals also helps you stay motivated. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds in January and you lost 5, you would not be happy because your goal weight seem so far away. But if your goal was to lose the recommend 1-2 pounds per week, you are right where you need to be. Come up with a list of smaller goals made up of performance goals (take X amount of time off your mile run), behavioral goals(exercising X amount per week), and aesthetic goals (lose X amount of inches, weight, pant sizes). 5. Use visual cues Are you a Pinterest fan? It is the fasting growing social media site in the world. You know why? People respond very powerfully to visual cues. These can be pictures of someone's body you admire, things you want to accomplish, etc... but one of the simplest and most effective things you can use is the humble note card. Those simple 3 x 5 note cards that you used to fumble through when you did speeches in school. Write your goals, motivational sayings, etc... and put them on note cards where you will see them every day. Sounds simple and maybe even a little silly, but it works. This will keep your goals and aspirations at the forefront of your mind to help keep you motivated. Along these lines, you can also do a vision board. A vision board might sound a little too Oprahish for some people, but have seen all that Oprah has been able to accomplish? A vision board is basically like a school project. You need poster board (or if you are going dance, some cork board), pictures, and glue. For the pictures you want to make sure they are three things. Personal-You can't use my board and I can't use yours. My vision board might be filled with dudes sporting rat tails that I am coveting. You want that? Probably not, but I don't know you that well. Emotionally charged- The pictures should really speak to you and spur you to action every time you look at it. Are there any pictures you can think of right now that do that for you? Strategically placed- Just like with the note cards, you should put your vision board somewhere where you will see it multiple times EVERY day. Vison boards are all based on making the law of attraction work. The law of attraction in a nut shell is whatever it is you consistently think (positively or negatively) will come to fruition. I believe in it personally, but I am a naturally positive person any way. When was the last time things went really bad for you when you were thinking positively? It's pretty rare, turn that frown upside down kid it's going to be ok. 6. Read a book, blog, magazine etc... This is a great way to find people who are going through what you are. What did they do to get through it? Steal ideas, share ideas, adapt ideas to your own situation. There is a wealth of information on every subject imaginable out there, use it to your benefit. You can get a lot of it for free. Or you can buy exercise books to get into a new routine. Get a fitness magazine for new workouts, recipes, motivating stories, etc... Pick up a healthy nutrition cook book to help you with the all important nutrition piece of the puzzle. This is something small you can do that really helps with new ideas, as well as keeping your health at the forefront of your mind. 7. Exercise with a friend, group, team, or club The three main things you will experience when exercising with others are: social opportunities; accountability; and motivation. One of the most consistent comments I get from my boot campers is that we are like a family. People have made lifelong friendships in the class. There is just no better way to bond, than through burpees I guess. When you can get together to sweat and smile it really is a magical combination that becomes addicting. When you are by yourself, you had a hard day at work, didn't sleep good last night, and you are driving to the gym it gets very easy for that car to direct itself on home. But if you had to meet someone for that workouts, whether it is a trainer or a workout partner, your chances of skipping that workout just went way down. Accountability is an absolute key to exercise success. The group or partner atmosphere also gives you that extra boost to keep going, dig a little deeper, and give it your best. About 90% of the time I workout by myself in my garage. Depending on what time of year it is, the garage is either really cold or boiling hot. In Alabama we have spring for 6 days and then it picks a lane, hot or cold. There are many days when the last thing I want to do is go slave through a workout. There are some benefits to the garage workout. I can wear what I want, being barefoot doesn't freak anyone but my wife out, I can blast my Justin Bieber shame free, use chalk when I life weights, throw things, etc... It's a pretty extensive list of reasons I like to workout in there, BUT there are also a lot of distractions. Luckily I am a fairly disciplined person and also have experienced one thing over and over. Just start the workout. No matter what you feel like, how much you are dreading it, just start, and you will feel better afterwards. If you are not the type of person that can stick to a workout AND give it the proper intensity, you need to seek out a group or a partner. 8. Take a power nap To be fair, this is my solution to everything in life. Your cholesterol is high? Man I would take a nap if I were you. You got fired? Little snooze will clear that right up. Just understand that I wasn't always like this. The years of getting up way before the sun has caught up to me and now I am a self-taught, napping expert. There are days when I can't find the energy to put my shoes on, much less work out. WebMD even backs my napping with science in this article Nap Benefits. There is even a gym in North Carolina that offers napping classes. For real, Nap Classes at the gym. I won't bore you with all of my personal napping techniques and tips, just know they are spectacular. I may write a book on napping one day as my way of giving back to the people. But I will tell you that anything over 30 minutes and you will wake up unsure who you are, what country you are in, and why your pants are way over there. Maybe the last part is just me. If you have 5-30 minutes to spare, try a power nap before you workout for a quick mental and physical recharge. 9. Competition Some people just thrive on competition. Whether it is in a race or in the group setting we mentioned earlier, some people will completely change and come alive in competition. I am that type of person. There are very few things I hate worse than losing. It is something I've had to really check myself on because I can take it too far. There is absolutely nothing wrong with healthy competition. You know what is a competition I love watching? The one-sided competition. This is when only one person knows there is a competition going on. For instance, have you ever been on a treadmill and you see the person next to you keep glancing over at your console and pushing buttons? Then you increase your speed, they increase their speed. Has this ever happened to you? Did it make you bump up your speed just a tiny bit? Sometimes it takes a little competition to get you out of your comfort zone. Whatever the competition is, use it to your advantage. Strive to be stronger, faster, fitter, and more flexible than you are now. If you are going to try to do something, why not be the best at it YOU can? 10. Shoot for progress, not perfection You are going to mess up, you are going to miss workouts, you are going to eat fast food. We all do! Even that buff guy of girl you think has a perfect body. It's going to happen, so it's no big deal! Here's the main thing to take home from this. Do not let a slip become a fall. What I mean by that is, when you miss up it is not the end of the world. Pick up where you left off and keep moving. Too many people get stuck by focusing on a mistake rather than remembering all that they have accomplished. Even if are only moving forward one step at a time, you are still moving forward. Keep it up and you will get where you are going eventually. Action step- Pick out one or two of these and start using them TODAY. There is no way you should be dreading your workouts, so find a way to look forward to them.
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