By Jane Grates
We all go through periods in our lives when we’re completely fired up and more than committed to our health and fitness goals. You probably know what I’m talking about: we show up to all our classes, we eat right more often than not, and we’re almost obsessed with our progress and to showing up for ourselves.
And then, for most of us, something happens. Maybe one missed class or personal training session turns into two, or into a week, or several weeks, and before we know it, we’re all paying for gym memberships that we’re not actually using, and we’ve totally backslid on any progress that we made earlier, in previous months. It’s like once we lose our mojo, it’s gone forevermore. Does this resonate with you? If you’re like most people, it probably does.
The thing about motivation, of course, is that it’s fleeting. Just as my hypothetical example illustrates, it’s totally normal for all of us to go through periods where our motivation is at an all – time high, and then before we know it, it may quickly sink to being at an all-time low. How can we manage these periods in our lives when our motivation waxes and wanes so drastically?
Below, I’ll talk in more detail about some tips to help you get through a workout slump. The underlying factor to all my explanations is the importance of systems. Eventually, our motivation will fail us in some way, shape, or another; when that happens, it’ll be more important than ever for systems to kick-in and save us from ourselves.
Some tips to help you get through a workout slump include the following:
Research seems to suggest that it takes the better part of 3-4 weeks for a new habit to form. Sometimes, it seems that entropy — just doing nothing — is easier than finding the wherewithal to do something (anything!). When you’re setting up a workout routine, create a system that will allow you to streamline it as best you can and one that removes as much as possible of the guesswork from the equation. What might this mean? Always working out at the same time of day. Always scheduling the time into your calendar — personal and work — so that you treat it as a commitment. Doing everything in your power to protect that time of your day — just as you would any important obligation — so that you can’t let others steamroll it.
Change it up.
Variety is the spice of life. Sometimes our motivation tanks because we’ve gotten bored with our current routine. If you’re always used to doing one particular activity, change it up. Maybe that means instead of running five times a week, you’ll run for three and go for a swim or bike ride for two. Perhaps that means you’ll swap a routine bike ride for a group fitness class or a especially tough personal training session. You really have a ton of latitude here, so it’s just a matter of finding something that’s exciting to you. Who knows? You may just discover a new passion.
Enlist a friend in the fun.
Sometimes having a buddy can be the difference between getting bored with the same ol’ or having fun. If you’re used to working out by yourself, do yourself a favor and get a friend (or make a friend!) to join in. Think of it as a really healthy happy hour, without any annoying hangover afterward.
Make your workouts more meaningful.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to make our workouts and fitness more meaningful is by making it about something other than ourselves. There are tons of options here; they include going on a major bike ride for a fundraising cause, running a half marathon or marathon on behalf of a charity team, completing a triathlon as a member of a service group, and so on. For some organizations, you may even be able to meet the beneficiaries or recipients of the funds you’ve raised through your endeavors, which is both very humbling and very inspirational. Plus, fundraising for fun — not because you’re getting paid to do so — can help you put your life in perspective and all but force you to live afterward with a stronger sense of gratitude, instead of entitlement. There are tons of people out there who’d just love to be in a “workout slump” but can’t because they’re too sick. That, alone, can help us remember just how lucky we are sometimes, even when we’re dissatisfied with ourselves (for whatever reason).
Give yourself a carrot.
Finally, if you’re in a workout slump, setting little goals — giving yourself a metaphorical carrot — can be a great impetus for you. Perhaps if you can set a goal of completing a certain number of workouts in a given month, you’ll decide to reward yourself with something: a new pair of workout attire, a massage, a nice manicure, whatever. We all like to work towards goals, so take time to do a mental inventory and decide just what you’d like to work toward today, this week, and/or this month.
Hopefully your workout slump won’t last long. If it does — and especially if it begins to seep into other areas of your life, if you’re feeling like something is “off” or otherwise wrong — definitely consider talking to a medical professional to ensure that something more nefarious isn’t wrong. In the interim, continuing to show-up for yourself is one of the best things you can do.
You’ll be happy that you did.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A vegan and fitness guru. Performing at the crossroads of design and elegance to craft
meaningful ideas that endure. Concept is the foundation of everything else.