Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Get Out of an Exercise Funk

For Throwback Thursday, here's a post from my Making Fitness Fun blog from about a year ago.  Enjoy!  
Getting into an exercise funk is no fun.  I've been there.  I love being fit, but there have been times when I just didn't feel motivated to work out.  There have also been dark periods when I didn't even want to think about fitness.  I blame that on menopause.  I can't imagine any other reason for me to fall out of love with fitness. 

Luckily, I've always been able to get out of a funk. Because you can't stay in it forever.  It's nonproductive, feels yucky, and the longer you stay in it the harder it will be to get back on track. Here are some things that have helped me to snap out of it.  Use what works, chuck out the rest.  The important thing is that you get moving again.  

1.  Ask Yourself What the Problem Is.  You can't fix something if you don't know what's wrong.  What's the root of your funk?  Did someone make fun of you at the gym?  Are you overwhelmed by the terminology that your trainer is throwing at you?  Dig deep to find out what is causing this lack of motivation, fuzzy-headedness, blah feeling--whatever your funk encompasses.

2.  Go About Trying to Solve the Problem.  Write down the problem and what you may be able to do to solve it.  Say it's that people make fun of you at the gym.  Let the gym manager know what's going on.  He or she may approach the bullies, get their story, and tell them to stop or risk being kicked out.  Each gym has its own policies regarding such matters, but I would think that most gyms would have a zero tolerance policy as far as harrassment goes.

3.  Revise Your Goals. Revising your goals can help re-energize you and smash those barriers.  Don't try to be a hot shot athlete if it's not in you.  Shoot for losing 1 pound, 5 pounds, or even 10 lbs.  Or you could set a goal to run a mile, then work your way up to a 5K.  Similarly, set a goal to increase the weight you lift by 2 lbs. or up your reps by 5 (or by just 1; come on, one rep, you can do it.) in a week or so--whatever feels right for you. Challenge yourself to help put the fun back in your workout.  Don't expect to be able to start back at your previous fitness level if you have been away from fitness for more than a couple weeks.  Start back slowly; work back up to your previous level and then shoot for more.

4. Choose Activities You Enjoy.  What do you like to do?  Play cards, play Yahzee, garden, walk, play tennis?  Great, do it!  Okay, so playing cards and Yahtzee aren't exactly the most acitive pasttimes, but you could work them into your program.  Never mind that they aren't the usual exercise choices.  Maybe that's the problem.  You may need to shake things up; become creative when designing workouts to put the zip back into your program.  For instance, you may enjoy picking a card from a deck before each exercise in your program. The number can represent the number of reps, while the suit can represent the sets.  

5. Manage Stress.  If you're feeling pressured about things in your daily life including family matters, community obligations, bills, and so on, your workout could suffer.  It can put a dent in your enthusiasm and time for exercise.  But keep in mind that exercise can actually help relieve stress, so make sure you take time to fit in fitness.  Make time for yourself.  Consider meditating, getting more sleep, or talking to a close friend or family member to get things off your chest.  If that's not enough, consult a financial advisor, your doctor, or other professionals for more expert advice.

6.  Don't Over-Think Things.  This happened to me.  The more I learned about fitness, the more confused I got. I felt like I had to work out  a certain way, design programs a certain way, go by the book.  Then I heard from a trainer that I admired that she made her own programs specific to the clients' needs, not by instructions in a book.  Yes, we need to learn theory, anatomy, physiology, programming, etc., when studying to be certified personal trainers, but we also have to loosen up a bit and go with our guts,  and a client's preferences and fitness level rather than a textbook when deciding what's best for a client. It's similar to what doctors have said about me regarding my history of spina bifida:  "You're not 'textbook'." When it comes to training, I don't think of anyone as textbook.  All clients have individual needs.  When I stopped over-thinking and started concentrating on the exercises I liked to do and had fun with, I felt much better.  Workouts were fun again.

7.  Leave Work at Work.  If you've got a lot on your plate at work it may be hard to let it go and concentrate on your workout, but you need to.  Workouts are great for helping you relax and keep your mind off work.  Don't fight that.  You need this facet of your life to help you decompress. Don't stew about work issues.  Clear your mind, relax, have fun.

8.  Think Positively.  No matter what is going wrong there are probably a lot of things going right, too.  Take a moment to realize that.  Each night before you go to bed, make sure to write down three positive things that happened that day.  Remember to include any fitness time you managed to squeeze in and if you grabbed a healthy snack instead of caving in and having that sugary soft drink or donut.  Think of how it felt when you were at the top of your program, kickin' butt at the gym.  You did it then; you can do it again.  Focus on your strengths and build on them. Then tackle your weaknesses.

9.  Concentrate on the Present.  So, you messed up that workout; you missed a jogging date with your best friend.  It's done.  It's over.  Leave it behind.  A good way to put it behind you is to start over.  Concentrate on the present.  Try that exercise you goofed up on again.  Take it slow.  Master it.  Call your friend to set up another jogging date and make sure to arrive early.  Don't let the past control you; rather, control your present.

10.  Stick to a Schedule. You have a better chance of making your workouts if you schedule them into your  day.  Working out early in the morning is great.  You get it in before the day gets crazy.  But I can't seem to exercise in the morning.  I get up early for work as it is, so getting up earlier to fit in exercise just doesn't cut it.  So, I usually have to wait until the afternoon.  One time of the day I hate working out is in the evening.  I'm too tired, plus I don't know anyone who goes to the gym at that time.  Do cardio most days of the week and weight training at least two days per week.  And allow for rest intervals during your workout as well as on off days to help your body recover.  Overtraining increases the risk of injury, so, yes, challenge yourself, but don't go overboard.

11.  Accept Off Days.  Maybe you're having an off day, but that doesn't mean you have to turn it into a full-blown funk.  Use these to re-energize yourself rather than kick yourself down. Come back more determined than ever to better your technique, increase your sets or reps, and up the weight your lift.

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