Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

I think one of the reasons a lot of people struggle with keep the weight off long term is because they didn’t change their mentality. Perhaps they thought they didn’t need to continue doing what worked to lose the weight. Perhaps they went back to their old habits that put the weight on to begin with. And perhaps they stopped working out.

There are a lot of reasons why people quit working out: injury, illness, boredom, drudgery….the list can go on and on. The truth is: it’s easy to burn out. Recently I wrote about taking a few extra rest days one week because I was just burned out mentally and physically. The reset did wonders for me. But it also reminded me that working out shouldn’t be a CHORE. When it becomes a chore, it’s time to change something.

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The only way we’re going to stick to exercising on a regular basis is if it’s enjoyable. Sure, in the beginning on your weight loss journey it’s going to be a struggle. I went from being a couch potato to a gym rat but that didn’t happen overnight. It took time. I got used to it. My body adapted. I got better at swimming and I was losing weight, which obviously made fitness so much easier. I wasn’t lugging around 100 extra pounds, my joints didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt, I wasn’t out of breathe. So give it some time!

I chose swimming as the activity to help me lose 100 pounds because it was something I always loved. I knew I didn’t like tennis, or (at the time) running, so I picked an activity I liked. That’s so important!

The trick to sticking to your workouts is to make them fun. When it becomes routine and boring, you’re gonna want to quit. So don’t set yourself up for failure, set yourself up for a long term success. (And check out this post: Too Busy to Exercise.)

Keep Fitness Fun

There have been a bunch of things I’ve discovered along the path to health that have helped me stick with it. I found that I really loved hiking and biking and snowshoeing. I never thought I’d be the type of person that was way into sports and fitness because I spent most of my life hating it. Being picked last for a team sucked. Being embarrassed because I was uncoordinated wasn’t fun.

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Hiking is a great workout and it’s a lot more fun than staring at a wall on a treadmill in the gym. Plus, hiking is something you can do anywhere. Snowshoeing is basically hiking, just in snow. 🙂

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If you’re on vacation somewhere warm, trying canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving. When we went to Hawaii, one of my favorite memories is swimming in the ocean. I’d never done it before and it was magical. I loved it. It made working out a joy, not a chore.

Signing up for a race of some kind is a great way to stay motivated, the change things up, and to experience something exciting–especially if you sign up to race with a group. If you’re not a runner, what about walking? Or biking? Biking the Portland Century with Michael was such a fun experience and a happy memory. Also, having a specific goal in mind helped me stay on track with training.

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Make your workout a social event. My suggestions: join a hiking club like Mazamas,  check your local running store for a free running group to join, check websites like MeetIn and Meetup for other fitness related groups. At the very least, find a friend. Maybe a neighbor who will go on walks with you after dinner a few times a week. Having a partner do an activity with you makes it more enjoyable and more likely you’ll stick to it.

Change It Often

This is somewhere I fall short. I tend to get stuck in routines and habits and don’t deviate and this leads to burnout and boredom. Getting stuck in a fitness rut is the quickest way to STOP seeing results. I know this. And yet I still commit this sin! I’m “married to my workout.”

The way to change things up is to simply CHANGE. Try a new machine at the gym. If you lift weights on machines, try the free weights. If you run on the treadmill, try climbing the stairmaster. Do HIIT workouts.

I think one of the reasons cross-fit is so popular and so successful for weight loss is because the workouts are different each time. The body never gets used to it and therefore it’s easier to get ripped quickly. Seeing fast results is intoxicating and motivating.

Another way to change things up is to take a class. I’ve mentioned many times I’m not a fan of classes, for a lot of reasons, but they do offer something positive: motivation and change. If you go to spin class every week, the routines are usually different each time but to change things up even more, try switching to another instructor once in awhile. A minor change like that can refresh your outlook and routine.

I recently started going to Body Pump at my gym. Even though the classes are always really full and I’m not a fan of classes, I really like Body Pump. It’s different than anything I’ve done. I felt the benefits of the class after only a few sessions. I also found that I was looking forward to it!

Challenge Yourself

Maybe you’re burned out on your routine because it’s too easy. Too easy = boring. I need a challenge. The Body Pump classes have been a challenge for me and I am enjoying that. It was a nice change from lifting weights on my own at my own pace.

Take a class you’ve always wanted to try but thought it might be too hard. Just listen to your body and don’t injure yourself. (And check out this old post: Mistakes You’re Making in Fitness Classes.)

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Fun Fun Fun!

One thing I’m willing to admit: I am terrified of the idea of getting a dog. I’m a cat person. Cats are easy. Dogs seem hard, especially since I’ve never had one. They are a much bigger responsibility. But the volunteering I’ve been doing walking dogs at the Pixie Project has opened my eyes. It was SO MUCH FUN walking the dogs! I had a blast. It opened my eyes to things around me instead of being so focused on what was going on in my brain. I want a dog that I can take hiking and running with me. That sounds like such a fun way to spend time with a pet and get exercise in.

So that’s what I think about this whole topic of fitness and fun.

What do you think?

Maintenance 101: How to Eat  *  Maintenance 101: Challenges  *  Five Truths of Maintenance  *  Maintenance 101:  Self- Love  * Maintenance 101: Beware of Food Creep *

26 Responses

  1. I’m getting back into cycling, at least a little bit. I’ve done three 10-mileish rides this year, and this Sunday rode 20 – and was SO wiped the rest of the day (though I still went square dancing that night). I’m going on a fun vacation that will have some biking in Napa in June, so I figure the more I train the more fun it’ll be. Right now I’m eyeing signing up for shorter lengths of Reach the Beach and Ride Around Clark County. I used to do a LOT of organized rides when I lived here before, but for the last six years the majority of my rides were about 3 miles or less… so I have some major work to get my endurance to get back. It helps to know that it WILL get more comfortable and I WILL be able to do more if I keep applying myself. It’s going to be a spotty training season though 🙂
    bethh recently posted..End of cleanse!

    1. That’s so great that you rode! You’ll get back in the swing of things in no time. I haven’t really biked since October. I’m sure I’ll be wiped out my first few times. Especially since I haven’t done spin class at all this winter like I did last.

      Good luck with your rides!

  2. Great post! Sometimes, I think past negative childhood experiences with exercising can prohibit us from enjoying it as an adult (always being the slowest runner in gym class, being picked last for every dodge ball team, not being a natural athlete surrounded by those that were). I think we have to work past that and like you said, ultimately find an activity that works for us and that we enjoy. I work out at home to fitness DVDs – that way if I fall down or can’t do the moves, I don’t embarrass myself! It sounds strange, but it is what has worked for me for years.
    Jill @ a Girl in Progress recently posted..My Food Journey – Part IV

    1. YES!!! As a kid I grew up hiking and backpacking but I HATED IT. Hated with a capital H. My dad was a Marine and it felt like boot camp. It made me miserable so I didn’t do it for a long time. I’m glad I got back into hiking a few year ago because it really does make me happy.

      I love your idea of trying it at home first. So smart!

  3. I loved reading this post! I couldn’t agree more with it – if you don’t like spin class, find something else you like! I wish my husband were more active and we could do more stuff together, but I never thought of finding someone else in my neighborhood to do stuff with – I’ll have to check those sites out.
    Biz recently posted..Happy Birthday to Me & My Duplicate!

  4. I totally agree with you that you should try to make it fun, but there will inevitably be times when it’s just not working, and that’s where a disciplined mindset comes into action. I like to think of fitness as an old-fashioned water pump, at first you need to pump really hard to bring up the water (i.e. see results), but when the water starts flowing you can lay off a bit (don’t train as hard), but you’ve got to stay consistent!

    The ‘do it anyway’ mindset is invaluable when you don’t feel up for it, but I’ve found that if I really can’t be bothered and do it anyway, I usually have a great session and feel fantastic afterwards!

    Great insights Lisa!
    Nick Goodall recently posted..The Scorpion And The Frog – Stop Whining

    1. I like your analogy a lot and I think you’re right. In the beginning of my journey I was super focused and rigid about my workouts and food because it was still a struggle. I knew I had to “just do it” and not be flexible in any way until it became a healthy habit. Now it’s not as big of a deal and I’m more flexible.

      There are often gym sessions where I cut it short because I’m bored/burned out/tired/not into it–even if it’s something I previously enjoyed. Sometimes a break is just ok.

  5. If you don’t enjoy your workouts, you’ll only ever give a half-assed effort. If you give a half-assed effort, you’ll only ever get half-assed results.

    So, you end up doing stuff you don’t like, and get half-assed results for your effort. Do you think you’re going to stick with this routine?

    At the start, it’s extremely important to find what you like and stick to it. Overtime, your tastes may change and you’ll end up liking exercises that you didn’t at first, like say running and hiking, but let it evolve naturally.

    Without the joy, there can be no long term success in training.

    Cheers!
    Trevor recently posted..This Shit’s Gonna Hurt

    1. For sure. I definitely half-ass workouts when I am not into them. That’s what I used to do with weight lifting years ago–back when I hated it and thought it was a waste of time. I half-assed it and did my little circuit as quickly as possible and then wondered why I never saw results…? 😉

  6. These are some really great tips! I definitely struggled with maintaining my weight loss, I think part of it was I cut back my working out (got really busy/bought a house/got a little lazy) and I also stopped being as vigilant about what I was eating, I thought I was “doing good now”, but it will be a lifelong journey I now realize and these tips are very true and helpful for me.
    Robyn recently posted..New Shoes!!!!

  7. I’ve gotten to the point where a run or hike just isn’t as enjoyable without my dog. Just watching how happy he is when we’re out makes me enjoy everything THAT much more.

    I love hiking and I think it’s a great way for people who are just starting out to get active. It’s walking, so you don’t have to worry about your “pace” or how fast the person on the treadmill next to you is going, and there’s always a point to it – a view, a peak, a lake – which makes doing it that much more motivating and the hard work worth it.

    Lately I’ve been in a workout run lately, too, I hadn’t really been pushing my limits and had instead fallen into a same pace, generally same distance run every time I headed out. I started incorporating speed work and signed up for a few races and I get very excited about it all over again!
    Logan @ Mountains and Miles recently posted..Life with a Puppy

    1. That made me smile! One of the criteria for the dog the boyfriend and I want to get is that I want to be able to take it hiking and running.

      I agree, hiking is a good beginner activity because you can choose the difficulty of the hike, how fast you go or how often you rest. It’s nice!

  8. Completely agree about keeping fitness fun! Part of the fun for me is seeing myself more toned and fitter when I have been eating right and working out regularly. My husband and I just got bikes, and I’m looking to change it up with some bike rides…haven’t been on a bike for years, so I’m looking forward to it! Thanks for a great post 🙂
    I ❤ 2 Eat recently posted..Lazy Bones Saturday

  9. I agree that fitness should be something fun. I belong to a gym and I have made so many friends over the years. Going to class is a workout, but seeing my friends is also catch up time. I love it.
    I also love the outdoors. When the weather is great here in Portland I love to hike. I have recently discovered some really cool things right in town. I found the Portland Stairs book and we already did one of the walks. It was 3.5 miles and 600 steps. Not a bad workout. The next one is going to be over 5 miles and she have around 1400 steps.
    Amy recently posted..St. Jack

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