By nature, humans are often creatures of habit. We can very easily get stuck in our ways, which can transcend into our fitness habits as much as any other area. When your exercise routine becomes as predictable as your comfy pj’s and slippers, then the best that will happen is that your fitness and figure will tick along at the same level, but more than likely at some point boredom will rear its ugly head, and then lack of motivation (from not seeing results) will nFot be far behind. And then the rot sets in!
Remember when you first started on your fitness /weight loss mission and everything seemed so shiny and new and no doubt hard work? That is because your body was being worked in new and challenging ways, which kick started positive changes and also provided entertainment for your mind by becoming accustomed to new skills (or dusting the rust off long forgotten movement patterns).
After a little while, you probably congratulated yourself at managing to stick at your fitness routine for more than a few weeks, and perhaps even felt faintly smug that you had not dropped off your new found exercise band wagon like your friend/work colleague? Whilst it is great to acknowledge the achievement of being more active becoming a habit, I am afraid it is no time to rest on your laurels. You gotta keep on changing.
Your body is an amazing creation and will adapt quickly to challenges. On average your body will become used to the physical demands you place on it within a period of just 4-8 weeks. That means in order to continue to see change, you need to change what you do on a regular basis. For example the individual personal training programs I do with my clients typically last 6 weeks, before we overhaul what we are doing. This keeps the body second guessing and working hard, rather than going through the motions in a semi-automatic fashion.
So how do we change? We change what we do. To quote Henry Ford ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ – and that is the definition of stupidity if we are wanting to keep seeing results.
To change, we must alter at least one of the following (F.I.T.T.):
To give you some examples of how you can change the exercises you do to tone up, you could move to heavier weights and a lower repetition range (8-12 reps is great for helping with giving shape). You could alter the exercises. You could progress from machines to free weights. You could try (with guidance) to mix things up with kettlebells, suspension trainers, sandbells etc. You could move from a stable surface to an unstable surface. All these things will help challenge the body in a new way.
With your cardio you could do something obvious such as move to a different type of machine if in a gym. It is easy for runners to fall into the trap of always doing the same run and then wondering why they are not getting any faster/further. The answer is usually, you are no longer putting enough demand on your body to allow for changes. There is no need to always plod, as you are likely to already know how to do this, instead spend many of your runs working on things that will help you improve, such as intervals, fartlek, tempo work and hills. Given the resources and knowledge, you can get into the scientific and precise world of using perodisation, where you have micro and macro cycles where you focus on the specific types of runs that will benefit you in that stage of your running training. This includes plotting the different paces for each run. It can be mind-blowing and challenging to set up, but can really help with focus and seeing results and personal bests – so something to consider for the more serious runner.
Classes can be either the good guy or bad guy in keeping things fresh, a lot depending on your teacher and the choice of class. If in the class you do the same thing week in, week out (some people like the routine and familiarity) you will start to see the benefits dropping off after the first couple of months. So unless there is variety every few weeks, or the chance to progress up levels, I would ask yourself if there is something else you could be doing instead to help see results.
You can also have too much of a good thing with any type of exercise that you are doing – if it is all HITT and Insanity etc, no doubt your body would thank you from mixing it up providing some much needed lengthening and stretching with something like Pilates or Yoga. All work, no play made Jack a dull boy – ALL low/high impact (select your ’thing’) makes Jackie not release her full fitness/figure potential .
Setting fitness challenges, rather than weight loss challenges can be a great way to keep you inspired and moving forward. Whether it be being to climb so many stairs without having to stop due to being out of breath, to a triathlon or one of the many obstacle course events. Find something that motivates you.
Finally, my personal challenge to you is, what are you going to do different this month to kick start changes?
Ps Please remember and apply the F.I.T.T. principle mentioned in this article if using dog walking as your principle source of exercise.