So, yesterday you went to the gym and you hit the elliptical for 45 minutes. You sweat it out. Then you went into the weight room and lifted for 20 minutes. You stretched, drank a protein shake, hit the showers, and went home. It’s the same workout you’ve done for the last 3 months. Yet the weight still hangs. You feel healthier, but your waistline isn’t really budging. You’re beginning to think it’s hopeless. Maybe you’re destined to hold onto those 20 pounds. Maybe your body isn’t “supposed” to look like you’ve imagined. After all, your parents and brother are overweight, your grandmother and aunt have diabetes, and your grandfather died of coronary artery disease. This is part of your destiny, right?
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong!
Your life is yours. Genetics are not destiny. Your health and longevity are yours to manipulate. You can sabotage your life with complacency or embrace it with action. (Hint: choose “action”. It works.)
If your workout program isn’t working, it’s broken. You need to fix it. Your mind and muscles might be bored. You might feel a sense of “ugh” at the thought of getting on that machine one more time, but you do it because it burns the most calories. Right? Yes, but what’s the point of burning a million calories if you’re not having fun doing it?
If your workout feels stale, here are some tips help you enjoy the journey again:
Do Something Else. If you are sick of your cardio routine, you’re in luck! The world of fitness is full of different activities! Get a ball and a racquet and play racquetball for half an hour. You can play alone or with a partner. Jump in the pool and run (yes RUN) laps in the shallow end. Get off the treadmill and head to the track or a trail and test your endurance. How far can you run? Hike? Get on your bike. How far can you ride? How fast can you go?
Get Out of The Weight Room. I rarely recommend this. I believe in resistance training with every ounce of muscle fiber in my body. But if you hate it, it’s not worth it. If you feel intimidated by dumbbells, try working with a medicine ball. Challenge yourself with functional movements that work your whole body and are FUN! Some of my favorites include:
· The Slam: With your feet shoulder width apart, hold the ball over your head. Then, slam it on the ground. When it bounces up, catch it and return it to the starting position over your head. Do this 10 times.
· The Dribble: Try to dribble a medicine ball like a basketball. You’ll see… Repeat 10 times on each hand.
· Underhanded Toss: Stand 4-5 feet away from a wall with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the medicine ball between your legs at knee level. Keeping your back straight, toss the ball at the wall and catch it. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
· Toss Out: With your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent, hold the ball at chest level. Toss the ball at the wall and catch it. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
· Overhand Toss: With your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, lift the ball over your head. Throw it at the wall and catch it. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
These five basic movements activate muscle groups throughout your whole body. Though you might feel slightly silly for throwing a ball at a wall, you’ll be building core strength, increasing upper and lower body strength and mobility, and reclaiming the power and speed you’ve been losing annually since your late teens and early 20s. These movements welcome interpretation, as well. What if you did all of those ballistic movements, but never let go of the ball? FUN!
Try climbing the hanging rope, doing 5 pull-ups, or doing pushups on a plyo box? The tools and toys at the gym crave YOUR touch! Use every modality possible to build yourself the body you want. Be creative, but safe, and for heaven’s sake, have fun!
Change Your Goal. “Lose 10 pounds” has been your New Year’s Resolution for how many years? Ditch it. Set your sights on a goal unrelated to weight loss, and you might find that weight loss is a side effect. Not sure? Try these on for size:
· Train for a race. (5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, ultra-marathon, triathlon, charity walk, century ride, you get the picture). Setting a goal with a clear endpoint, like a real-life finish line, holds you accountable for your fitness. Training without the goal of weight loss will likely lead to weight loss. Go to www.active.com to find a race in your area.
· Take a class. Set your sights on hardest class at your gym or recreation center, or find a personal trainer who holds a group class on Saturday mornings in a local park (they’re generally much cheaper than one-on-one, and are usually very challenging). Make a goal of finishing the class strong and energized instead of depleted and fatigued. It might take a few weeks, but you’ll likely notice a change in your strength, endurance, and maybe even your waistline! Even trainers and professional athletes take spinning, Body Combat, and TRX classes. I know of a very famous professional boxer who joins the ladies at his local gym for a class titled Rhythm Boxing. See? Have some fun!
· Exercise for the greater good. Follow a cause that fires your passion. Local and national charities regularly host walks to raise awareness and funds for cancer, AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, animal shelters, child abuse, domestic abuse, the environment, public schools, private schools, preschools, and local arts programs. Join one, and make it worth it. Charities like Team in Training organize a fun group of athletes, train them, and set them loose with a GIANT cheering squad. As an athlete, I am tremendously inspired when I see the purple, green, and white jerseys pushing for a higher purpose.
Hire A Trainer. Even trainers use trainers. Everybody can benefit from the motivation, creativity, and knowledge of a passionate personal trainer. A good trainer integrates the latest science with proven techniques to guide you to your goal. If you want someone to push you, to get one more rep out of you, to make you feel like an Iron(wo)man, then find a local trainer. Many gyms and independents offer packages at a discounted rate. However, if you’re looking to improve your current routine or simply break the monotony, hire a trainer for one or two sessions. Hiring a trainer is akin to hiring your own personal cheerleader. They want it just as much as you do. You’re worth it.
A successful exercise program works your body and stimulates your mind. If you’re not excited, indeed chomping at the bit to get out and move, the time has come to make a change. Whether you include a new piece of equipment or restructure your whole program, infusing new ideas, movements, and energy keeps your program fresh, exciting, and motivating. The job of losing weight becomes less like a job and more like playtime. You deserve to have fun on your journey. Your experience must be positive and engaging if you want to lose weight successfully. This is your life. You deserve to move and breathe and live with ease, and you deserve to enjoy it. You have the power to make the changes that lead to a happier, healthier experience in living. Do it!