I know. It’s NOT the new year but I can’t help it. September feels like it might as well be.
And you know what happens over the summer. We get complacent. Lazy, even. The long days stretch out and all we want to do is luxuriate in the extra light and lounge as if we’re lying on the beach (even if we’re not). It’s not a bad laziness, but rather a type of laissez-faire, laissez le bon temps rouler time of year. (Like my French? That’s about the extent of it.)
As much as I abhor routines, I do realize the value they have. They help keep you on track; help you plan and stay accountable to yourself. They make you feel organized, in a way. And since I score a solid “B” in organization, I need all the help I can get. When September hits, many of us realize at least I did that some routines just need to be resurrected.
One of the most common routines to lose during the summer is our exercise routine. And if you’re searching for a way to get it back you’re welcome.
In the past 48 hours of writing this post I have heard, or seen, someone mention that they lost their mojo. To me, that was a sign from the universe. “What did the universe say?” you ask. It told me to ax the planned post related to eating in favor of helping you get your mojo back. If you never had a mojo, then let’s help you start one.
I dedicate this post to a new friend who has been struggling with what life has thrown at her, but who is starting to heal and transform her life. I also dedicate this post to my work colleague who, based on seeing me go through my weight loss journey, reached out to me for help in getting her mojo back.
The stories they each shared with me is between us. What follows, however, are thoughts that came to mind after leaving the office of my colleague. Each of these women inspired me. I hope this inspiration helps you, and them.
Be Flexible and Do Something
In talking with my colleague, she mentioned that she realized when it comes to working out she operates on all or nothing. Are you like that too? I was.
Her saying that reminded me of a time when if I had planned to run in the morning, but it snowed or rained, I would do nothing.
To combat that type of limiting thinking, during this weight loss journey I have been on for a little less than an year, I took a different approach: be flexible and do something. Doing something is a whole lot closer to all than it is to nothing.
Maybe you’ve lost the fun factor.
When I was a kid, we did exercise because it was all about “FUN” – fun playing, fun with friends, fun with sports and fun reaching a new goal. Now, it seems to be more about we “HAVE TO” – have to lose weight, have to be healthier, have to because the doctor told us, or even have to impress others! To be truly successful in long-term exercise, with all the associated health benefits, the secret is to have fun and reclaim your inner kid!
Switch from “I have to” to “I want to because it’s fun”
In the fitness industry we use a formula called FITT – Frequency, Intensity, Timing and Type. This gives us the basis to program varied exercise sessions to promote changes in the body with either fat loss, muscle toning, improved sports performance, injury recovery or general health benefits. To ensure long-term success, the most important is frequency. This is where we often come undone as we rebel against exercises when the “I have to” voice translates to “BORING!”
If your chosen exercise is truly fun, you no longer “have to” but you “want to”. And you will do it more consistently. A lifetime of exercise will trump short bursts of motivation, on and off again gym memberships, 12-week programs and short-term goals.
How do we make exercise fun?
Many of us have lost the ability to have fun given our sometimes overwhelming responsibilities, time pressures, financial pressures, careers and roles as a mothers/fathers, daughters/sons, sisters/brothers, wife/husband. So sometimes we just need to reset and reconnect with our inner kid. Here is a quick 10 minute technique to help:
Reclaim Your Inner Kid Exercise
∙ Sit in a quiet room, close your eyes and breathe slowly.
∙ Clear your mind of other distractions and focus on your breathing.
∙ When you are peaceful, cast your mind back to your childhood to whenever you were the happiest.
∙ Ask yourself what you were doing and who were you with.
∙ Enjoy and remember the experience.
∙ Repeat these questions until you have a list of things that made you happy.
∙ From your list, which experiences involve exercise and movement that you previously enjoyed? Now see if there is anything you can incorporate into your life.
Another simple technique is just to take the pressure off. Give yourself permission to do something solely because you enjoy it, like playing with the kids, walking with a friend or a dog, gardening, going into nature, sports, group fitness, a new physical goal (doing the Bridge to Brisbane) or going to the beach. This does not need to be hard core exercise but any exercise or movement that you enjoy.
As a final note, give yourself permission to enjoy exercise, take the pressure off, remember your fun childhood experiences and do any exercise or movement that you enjoy. You will undoubtedly be more consistent over the long term and you will be having fun doing it! Wishing you the best in fitness, health and happiness
Proudly published in August 2015 edition South City Bulletin
Even the most enthusiastic exercisers lose inspiration to get moving at times. Work gets stressful, family obligations get in the way, or the weather turns, and we suddenly find Netflix on the couch much more appealing than going for a run or sweaty gym session.
What should you do when you lose your inspiration to exercise? Try the following 5 tips to reignite your passion for burning calories and building muscle.
1. If you’re burned out, try something new
Exercise ruts are often born from boredom. If you’ve been doing the same old arms & abs workout for 6 months, not only will you stop seeing results, but you’ll probably start dreading going to the gym. If this happens, it’s time to look for something new.
There are so many ways to switch it up: Search for new gym workouts on your favorite blogs or Pinterest. Take a new group fitness class or check out a new studio whether that’s bootcamp, yoga, spin, or the latest fad. If you’re a gym rat, take your workouts outside; if you do fitness videos at home, try a studio. A simple change can be enough to get you excited about moving again.
If you’re still not feeling it…
2. Find a gym buddy
Tagging along with a friend or family member to the gym doesn’t just turn your workout into a fun social outing, it can provide an accountability partner. If you know that skipping a workout will leave your friend in a bind, you’ll be much less likely to bail. You also don’t have to actually work out together simply traveling to the gym and getting ready with a friend can make the whole thing a lot less painful, and still allow you to get in your workout free of distractions.
And if you will in fact be completing your workout solo…
3. Make a new killer playlist
A fresh playlist, a new album, or the latest episode of your favorite podcast can be extremely motivating, especially if you know your hour at the gym is the only time you’ll have a chance to listen. An inspirational podcast can be especially effective I love listening to interviews with ultra-endurance athletes or those that have completed incredible feats of strength. When you’re hearing about a 100-mile race up and down a mountain, suddenly your 5 mile run doesn’t seem quite so hard.
If that’s not your speed, any other inspirational stories or personal development-focused content can be helpful for finding motivation and staying focused on your goals.
If you still find yourself dreading your workouts…
4. Forget what you think you should be doing
We’re constantly bombarded with exercise recommendations & rules: Exercise for 150 minutes a week. Strength train at least twice a week. Run every day if you want to lose weight. Lift heavy five times a week if you want to “build your booty.”
Once you enter the fitness world, it’s easy to feel like you’re never doing enough. But the only rule that you should steadfastly stick to when it comes to exercise is to find an activity that you love.
Sure, it would be ideal to have the perfect well-rounded exercise routine that addresses all aspects of fitness, but this can be unrealistic and unsustainable for many of us, especially at all times of our lives.
Exercise should improve not just your physical wellbeing, but your mental wellbeing too. If forcing yourself to do certain exercises causes more stress than it relieves, seek out an alternative. You may find that once you’ve thrown off your perceived exercise obligations, the whole thing comes more fun.
And if all else fails…
5. Give yourself a break
Sometimes a loss of motivation can be our bodies signaling to us it’s time to slow down. Perhaps you spent the last few months adhering to a strict workout schedule, or you’ve just entered a time of your life where other aspects demand more attention. It’s ok—healthy, in fact—to put your fitness on the back-burner for a while, as rest and recovery are just as important as movement and growth. Life has ebbs and flows, and our exercise routine is not exempt from these shifts.
The important thing here is to be able to distinguish the times when you can truly benefit from a break from those times when you simply need some inspiration. But if you do go for the break, leave the guilt and judgment out of it, and take advantage of this time to recover and re-focus.
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