In workouts and in life, there comes a time when you hit a rut and grow tired of doing whatever it is you’ve been doing. That thirty-minute run isn’t cutting it anymore. That weight routine doesn’t feel challenging. Doing the same workout video again is boring. Plus, the weather’s getting colder and it would be so nice to stay in bed, be cozy, and skip the workout altogether. Maybe make some hot chocolate, read a book …
Workout apathy can show up anytime and when it does, it can halt your progress and tempt you back into back habits. What’s the point of doing the same old workout again today when you could watch a movie instead? Is it really that important to tackle an exercise routine you’re no longer excited about when you could just as easily spend the day tackling your to-do list?
I’m a person who constantly grows bored of my workouts. I absolutely cannot do the same thing month after month. I have to run different distances. I have to do different strength moves. My favorite exercises are progressive series that change moves every few weeks and get increasingly more difficult over a period of 8-12 weeks. Some people can do the same workout for several months at a time; I can’t. It has to be different every few weeks or I’m too tempted to call it quits.
When I feel the apathy setting in, how do I combat it? I always return to my philosophy that exercise should always be fun. And what’s more fun than a surprise? To keep things interesting, I like to keep myself guessing. Many months ago, I took a deck of cards and painted each card white. After the paint dried, I took a Sharpie and wrote an exercise on each card. At the beginning of each week, I shuffle the cards. I pull out seven cards throughout the day and do whatever’s written on them. I based this on the Fit Girls Guide “ten of somethings” I talked about a few posts earlier. Most of the cards feature ten of something: 10 side kicks, 10 tricep dips, 10 jumping jacks, etc. A few of the cards feature timed moves: 60-second planks, 60 seconds of jump rope, etc. There are ab moves, leg moves, arm moves, and cardio moves. I never know what card I’m going to pull and that’s the point: to surprise myself. I’ve been using this playing card technique for many months now and it still feels fresh.
Recently I had the idea to pull a card each week that’s more extensive than just 10 push-ups or squats. I wanted to throw an extra full workout into each week. Fit Girls Guide has a ton of free workouts to choose from if you look at either their Pinterest or Instagram accounts. My new plan is to write these full workouts down on index cards, put the cards in a box, and pull one out each week to surprise myself. I could pull it out on Monday (Mystery Monday), Wednesday (Wild Card Wednesday), Friday (Freestyle Friday), or any other day – the point is to do something once a week but to not do THE SAME THING every week. The point is to not let yourself get bored. The point is to remember that this is all supposed to be fun – and to change things up when it stops seeming fun.
There are many other ways you could mix things up as well. Try a new exercise class. (This year I tried trampoline aerobics and stand-up paddle-boarding and absolutely loved both.) Change your walk or run route. (Change your scenery. Change your neighborhood. Try a new trail. Drive to a different part of town. Stay safe but explore new territory.) Roll the dice. (Let the numbers on the dice correspond to different activities to do.) Stop treating workouts like workouts. (Invite friends to go for a hike. Hop on your bike and ride it to a coffee shop. Do anything that gets you moving but doesn’t feel like a workout.)
Does your motivation lag more at certain times of the year? Fall and winter are the most difficult seasons for me to get motivated because I find myself craving all things cozy – bed, couch, slippers, tea, comfort food. I have to let myself have a little cozy time and fight against the urge to let myself have all cozy time all the time. Sometimes it helps to change the time of day when you work out. Try getting up earlier or try being productive with work earlier in the day and saving your workout for later. See what works for you. What worked in summer may not work in winter. In fact, winter may be the time to trick yourself and do something totally unexpected: take a water aerobics class. Learn how to climb an indoor rock wall. Do something you haven’t done in a long time. Do something you’ve never done before.
Being healthy and fit is not about eating certain foods and working out for a certain number of hours a day. Being healthy and fit is about living. Maybe this is the season when you incorporate your cravings into your routine. Can’t live without that cozy latte? Make it a habit to walk a mile to get it. Can’t muster the idea of leaving the house at all? Make this the season you try a workout on DVD or look up some videos online. The point – as always – is not to make yourself miserable but to do what you really want to do. Do you want to walk around your neighborhood and see the different Halloween decorations? Do you want to walk around the mall? Do what you want to do instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. When you want something, you become unstoppable. When you force something, you become resentful.
Let’s all become unstoppable. Let’s have fun. Let’s mix things up. Let’s keep ourselves guessing. Let’s never get bored with working out again.
If you are interested in supporting my writing, please visit my Patreon page to find out how you can donate as little as $1 a month to help keep me afloat: patreon.com/kristenforbes.