Common Fitness Ruts and How to Break Them

Often times, when it comes to a New Year’s resolution to get fit and improve your health, you may find that you start out strong, but after a few months, your drive has diminished or even disappeared completely. All hope isn’t lost, and there are ways to get back on track once you recognize what is causing your fitness rut and learn ways to break out of it.

I’m Bored

Exercise isn’t always going to be the best — or even the most fun — part of your day, but if you are constantly bored by your workout, it may be affecting your progress. For example, perhaps you are at the gym trying to push through yet another mind-numbing elliptical session; you’ve checked the time 10 times, and to your dismay, you’ve only been working out for 3 minutes. What you may not realize is that not only are you bored, but the constant time-checking is keeping you from getting into the flow of your workout. According to exercise physiologist Greg Justice, “When you’re in the flow, you’re in a state where outside distractions don’t interfere with what you’re trying to achieve,” and if you aren’t in a state of concentration, it may be time to switch things up with your current routine to get your flow back and progress forward.

Switching up your routine doesn’t have to be drastic and it doesn’t necessarily require switching up the type of exercise. If you enjoy walking on the treadmill, move your workout outdoors and go for a 30-minute walk in the fresh air, and seek out different locations to try each week. Bring along a friend on your next workout. Not only will a partner help the time to pass more quickly, but they can serve as motivation when you are running out of steam or friendly competition when you want to kick it up a notch. Lessen the boredom further by creating a playlist to listen to as you workout, or download an audiobook or podcast.

It can also be helpful to remind yourself why you’re putting in time at the gym and cutting out junk food from your diet. Are you trying to lose weight so you can keep up during the amazing hiking expedition your family is taking on your next vacation? Are you trying to get healthier to serve as a positive role model for your children? Are you making your overall health a priority as part of an addiction treatment plan? No matter what you’re trying to achieve, recalling exactly what the reward for all of your hard work will be can help inspire you to get excited for your next workout.

I’ll Never Reach My Goal

When you set a resolution to get fit, it is important that you are very specific with your goals, such as losing weight, improving your shape, getting toned, reducing stress, or improving fitness. Make sure your goals are specific, measureable, and realistic. For example, instead of simply saying, “I want to lose 15 pounds,” develop a schedule that will enable you to lose one pound a week, and continually chart your success. Seeing your progress and even your setbacks on paper can serve as motivation to keep going, and show that you are truly making progress toward your initial goal. Consider downloading a fitness tracker app or purchasing a fitness watch to track your workouts and log your distance, speed, and calories burned. Many trackers will create personalized goals as well as track your progress, and can serve as a great way to push yourself and compete with friends and family. Set up a competition to see who can log the most steps each week, with the winner getting a specific perk like picking the movie or no dishwashing duty for a week.

Reward yourself for each step or goal you reach along the way, such as a massage or that awesome pair of sneakers you’ve had your eye on. Keep in mind that your goals need to be realistic, so start slowly and don’t try to change your habits overnight or expect to see a large change next week. Find your own personal rhythm by keeping an exercise journal. Every morning and night, write down five words that describe your frame of mind, energy level, physical condition, and what type of exercise you completed. Look for patterns, and pinpoint the particular exercise that works best for you or the energy level or time of day at which your body performs at its best. Make adjustments to your goals, and remember that it is OK if they change because you are changing.

It’s OK to get a stuck in a rut, but don’t let the rut completely derail you. Find ways to get back on track and stick with your goals, changing them as necessary to crush your resolution and improve your health.

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