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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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?