Keeping it fresh

Many people, myself included, struggle to stick to an exercise program that they find repetitive or boring. I stopped strength training about four months ago for that very reason.

I’m kind of mad at myself. I know how important strength training is, and how it helps my running. I go around telling everyone how important it is! My mistake was that I didn’t make the time to play with my routines, change them up and make them more interesting. It got boring and I’d think ‘hey, I could be out running in the park right now’ and so that’s what I would do instead.

Over the past 16 weeks or so I’ve just been running and here’s what has happened to my training and fitness:

  • My tricky lower back began acting up–a lot.
  • Calf and lower leg injuries flared up after months and months of no injuries.
  • Loss of muscle definition/tone (although I weigh less—more on that later).
  • Less running overall because all of the above.

I remember how fabulous and strong I felt when I had a balanced fitness schedule. My running was better and I think I looked better too- I like a little definition.

I’m now back on track and treating myself like a client- making strength training interesting, challenging and fresh and making it part of my overall fitness program again.

Whether it’s strength training or cardio, boredom and repetition can set in and make you not want to continue. That’s definitely not what we want! You need to have balance in your workouts and you need to have fun and be challenged. I’ve listed some tips below that you can use yourself to make things more interesting:

  • Turn a regular weight training session into a circuit session and incorporate some cardio. If you go to the gym you could do cycle or running intervals in between sets.
  • Try changing your routine by super-setting or doing pyramid sets, etc.
  • Use different equipment. This goes for cardio too. Try rowing, or cycling if you usually run and vice versa.
  • Do some of your exercises on a stability ball or bosu to add extra challenge.
  • Change your cardio workouts around so you do some intervals, low heart rate training, sprinting, etc.
  • Try a class.
  • Get a personal trainer to boss you around occasionally!

One thing I have done differently with my own program is that I’ve put a wide variety of routines in rotation. It will work well for me because there are so many variables that I can change it will take a while for any boredom to surface!

I change my running routines primarily by training different heart rate ‘zones’ for a set amount of time each week; plus I just love running outdoors. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’m bored of it. It’s good for body and soul.

Exercising, eating right and still not losing weight?

Seeing no shift in the numbers on the scale can be, to say the least, disheartening. In fact, it’s probably the main reason people give up on a new exercise/diet regime. Don’t give up!! I’ve listed below the most likely reasons you aren’t seeing the changes you want:

Too much of a good thing

You’re eating healthy food, right? You wouldn’t start an exercise program and eat garbage food—that would undermine everything. A lot of people I talk to simply eat too much ‘good’ food. Even nutritious food will cause weight gain if you’re eating too much of it.

This is not helped along by the mindset that if you are exercising you can eat more. Forget about that. It doesn’t work.

Counting calories sucks but I know it works. You need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. That is best achieved with a combination of diet and exercise.

You aren’t exercising hard enough

One thing that drove me nuts when I worked a short stint in a gym, was watching people get on the treadmill with a copy of People magazine, hold onto the rails and stroll for 30 minutes. What’s that all about? What a waste of 30 minutes. If you can only spare 30 minutes to exercise then you should feel maxed out at the end of it. If you could have kept going for another 30 minutes, you’re not doing it right.

One of the principles of exercise is ‘overload’. Your body needs to be overloaded to stimulate change. Your body doesn’t like change and will use everything in its power to keep you at homeostasis.

Keep in mind that ‘overload’ is specific to each individual situation.

Be patient!

Weight loss takes time. Don’t keep weighing yourself. Do it once a week at the same time of day so you can accurately gauge your progress. If you keep jumping on the scales you’ll go bananas—weight fluctuates like crazy.

What are you drinking?

Liquid has calories too. Don’t drink your calories. Ditch the fruit juice, sugary drinks and alcohol. Drink water. Not enough water will make your workouts more difficult, give you under eye dark circles, a clogged system and general lethargy. Make drinking water a habit. Try to drink 30ml of water for every kg you weight and add 1 litre for every hour of exercise. This is not optional!

Hormone levels

A few hormones that increase appetite include cortisol, estrogen and leptin; and thyroxine reduces metabolism. Shifts in these and other hormones can have huge effects on weight loss. Also, make sure you get enough sleep because that also affects hormone production. If you have had a big change in weight for no apparent reason, it may be worth speaking to your doctor to make sure your hormone function is normal. Our hormone levels change as we age and it is important to make lifestyle adjustments to take this into consideration.

So if you are struggling to lose weight consider the points above and please don’t give up!! If you are having problems and would like to have a chat you can always email us: comotionfitness@gmail.com