When you made your fitness resolutions in January, you did everything right: you set realistic goals, you built sustainable behavior patterns … all that stuff. But now it’s been eight months, and your enthusiasm is waning.
Don’t worry – it happens to the best of us. But not always for the same reasons. So to understand what went wrong, we turned to Boulder-based sports psychologist Dr. Doug Jowdy, who helped us make these resolutions in the first place.
1. You’re bored
The problem: It just isn’t fun anymore. You’ve been doing the same few activities over and over again for months, and you’re sick of them. Your workout has gone from “want to” to “have to” – no wonder you’re not stoked about it.
The solution: Mix it up. If you’ve been focused on endurance sports, try something social like tennis, squash, or basketball. Spend a day lifting heavy weights, or hike a trail you’ve never tried before.
2. You’re psyched out
The problem: The problem?! Where should you start? Your job is driving you nuts, your checkbook is running on empty, and your social life feels like pro wrestling plotline. You’ve got troubles, and they’re making it tough to find time for the gym.
The solution: Sort it out. Take exercise out of your schedule for a few weeks, and use that time to work on those bigger issues. This is called solution-focused coping – and while it won’t solve all your problems right away, it will at least help you bring a clear mind to your workout.
3. You’re not eating and/or sleeping enough
The problem: Unhealthy habits are doing you in. Sure, you stay active. But that’s not the only ingredient for good health. Successful fitness is all about stress and recovery, and your body can’t fully recover if you aren’t treating it right.
The solution: For starters, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you’re pushing your body in the gym or on the trail every day, chances are good that you aren’t giving yourself eight hours a night. Make a point to stay hydrated, and keep your calorie count high, especially if your focus is on endurance sports like hiking, running, or cycling.
4. You’re overdoing it
The problem: You tried to do too much, too fast. Maybe you’re trying to go couch-to-marathon in three months. Or maybe you’re trying to keep up with a training partner twenty years your junior. Whatever the reason, your body is using irritability and lethargy to send you a message – it needs a break.
The solution: Listen to your body. A healthy fitness regimen incorporates periodization – alternation of heavy and light doses of exercise. Mix in some active rest – swap your run for a hike, or your heavy lifting session for an easy bike ride. If you don’t have rest in your exercise plan, put it in.
5. You’re sick
The problem: You tried all this stuff already. You’re well rested, you eat right, and your stress level is at all-time low. But when it comes time to lace up your running shoes or strap on your bike helmet, you feel glued to the couch.
The solution: It’s hard to say. But persistent sluggishness isn’t normal, especially for active people. Make an appointment for a physical – you could be fighting an infection or struggling with some kind of thyroid dysfunction.