Have your gym shoes found their way to the back of your closet? There’s no shame in that. Sticking to a fitness program is hard. Even pro athletes can lose track of good exercise habits. The key is to recognize the signs of slipping as quickly as possible, so you have a greater chance of getting back on track. Watch out for these five behaviors to creep into your daily routine.
1. Excuses Come Easily
Scientists have long theorized the existence of Self-Defeating Personality Disorder. Although the idea remains unconfirmed, it is undeniable that humans have a recurring habit of self-sabotage. When getting fit, even with the best intentions, it's easy to make excuses. Prioritizing other responsibilities – such as work and family – may feel justifiable, but this will not help your progress in the long term.
To overcome this problem, you need to recognize whether your “good reason” is actually just a good excuse. Here are some common examples you may have uttered to yourself:
“I don’t have time.”
Make time by scheduling a dedicated weekly workout slot – hopefully, more than one!
“I’m too tired.”
Doing cardiovascular exercise can actually give you more energy the more you do it. Put in the work today and reap the rewards when you work out next week.
“The gym is too busy.”
Work out at home! You don’t need shiny machinery to get fit; you just need to move. Exercise wherever it’s most convenient for you.
“I’ve done enough this week.”
No one ever succeeded in their goals by just doing enough to get by.
The point is: don’t let the little voice inside your head be the reason you get off track. Whenever it pops up, consider if the “reason” is valid.
2. The Scale Isn't Budging
The dreaded plateau can stifle weight-loss motivation. It may surprise you, but even the most dedicated gym-goer can experience the plateau. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to remedy.
First, take note that you burn fewer calories as you lose weight. For instance, a 200-pound. man burns 636 calories during an hour of jogging; whereas, a male of the same height and age, weighing 150 pounds would only burn 477. What does that mean? It’s time to up the intensity of your workouts. Incorporating HIIT workouts into your usual routine is a great tactic to get things moving again.
Kinesiology professionals at McMaster University discovered that 10-minutes of HIIT was equal to 45-minutes of working out at a moderate pace. High-intensity promotes anaerobic exercise in order to produce energy quickly. This means it will opt for easy-to-access sources – such as sugar and carbohydrates – instead of trying to burn fat. While this is useful, it can lead to a quick burnout if you push too hard. Always find balance!
3. Junk Food is Crowding the Kitchen
Holistic fitness is essential for weight loss and health. If your workouts are slipping, your diet likely is, too. Having a cheat day every now and again is acceptable. However, if your house has gradually filled with junk food, you have undoubtedly gotten off track.
According to Annette Clauson’s contribution to the Journal of Agriculture and Applied Economics, Americans spend 10% of their disposable income on fast food annually. It’s easy to become a part of this statistic. After all, junk food is convenient, inexpensive and intensely satisfying – for a short while, anyway.
Regain control of your healthy eating habits with four simple steps:
- Throw out everything unhealthy – now! Getting back on track means a clean slate.
- Never bring junk food inside. Eat it in the car if you must. Creating a healthy-food-only zone will help reduce cravings at home.
- Stock up on healthy snacks, so you'll never be tempted to indulge. Dried fruit and salted nuts are great alternatives, which are sensationally satisfying.
- Identify your worst craving culprits and seek healthy substitutions. If you're a chocolate addict, swap candy bars and ice cream for raw cacao desserts.
4. Strains and Sprains Keep Recurring
A good fitness routine aims to create gradual, prolonged improvement, so it’s important to stay on track. Missing sessions often means playing catch-up. If you’re doing too much, it can result in injury. As Andrew Peloquin from FitDay.com points out, pushing too hard could even cause rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is ”a disorder in which your muscles break down and release the contents that they have stored in the muscle cells.”
If you're overexerting and experiencing acute pain during your workouts, you need to re-synergize with your original vision. Return to the basics and plot a more realistic increase in repetitions and intensity. Be patient with your progress, and you will guarantee sustainable success.
5. Energy Levels are Low
As NASM Elite Trainer, Kyle Stull, notes, “It seems logical to assume that exercise would drain your energy and make you tired. But it literally creates energy in your body.” Tiny mitochondria in your cells are responsible for converting food into energy, but regular exercise stimulates mitochondrial growth. Therefore, daily energy levels are an excellent marker to tell if your workout program is off track.
Many fail to realize how quickly fitness levels drop. For a trained athlete, it takes only seven days to see a reduction in cardiovascular ability. Regardless of fitness levels, though, working out regularly is the key to increased energy. If you see a dip, it’s clear something isn’t going right.
After evaluating all the signs of a failing fitness program, know that it’s not the end of the world to get off track. Many fitness programs come with a beginner's hump. You haven't worked out in a while, so things are strenuous and exhausting. The most important thing is to remind yourself that once you’re in a routine, it does becomes easier to maintain.
Have you fallen of track? How did you know and what have you done to re-up your fitness routine?
Like this article? You can find more of Caroline's advice at SecureThoughts.com.