At some point in our journey towards trying to improve our health, practically all of us have experienced burnout. You know what I’m talking about. You decide to lose weight and improve your health. You go the gym everyday. You order a grilled chicken salad, hold the dressing, while your friends go for the double burger, large fries, and even larger soda. You quit smoking while your friends are still puffing away, and you almost feel left out. At the beginning, all is good. The weight is coming off nicely. You put on some muscle. That hacking cough and shortness of breath are a thing of the past.
But, after a month or two, you hit a rut. Your weight has plateaued. The thought of eating one more celery stick is nauseating. Just thinking of the treadmill makes you want to sit down on the couch with a bag of chips watching your television. And you miss that occasional drag on a cigarette. You become frustrated. You consider dropping your spartan routine. Pretty soon consideration becomes action, and before you know it, you’re slowly relapsing to your previous, unhealthy existence. You’re burnt out. You’ve hit a rut. The weight slowly starts to pack on, those new clothes your purchased are becoming snugger by the day.
If the above, or a variation of it, strikes a familiar cord, then consider the following advice to keep yourself on track:
1. Take a break.
If you’ve already reached the point of burnout, take a break. Not a 2 month break, but a few days of you indulging yourself a little. Go out to your favorite restaurant. Enjoy your favorite ice cream sundae. Forget the gym. Just relax. The one exception is smoking. Do not smoke for those few days. This could truly lead you back to smoking full time. However, by treating yourself perhaps to a new suit or dress, a new watch, a night out, or a small vacation getaway, you’ll hopefully mitigate some of the cravings for a cigarette.
2. Change things around.
If you’re sick of the same weight circuit and elliptical machine at the gym, then alter your workout. Take a kickboxing class. Or forget the gym. Go on a hike. Play basketball. Swim. By changing things around, you’ll often see renewed results in terms of weight loss and muscle gain since your body has likely gotten used to the last routine. Same with diet. If every day is a can of tuna packed in water with a bag of salad, then try something a little more creative. Try your hand at cooking. Get some interesting recipes online. Add some spice and flavor.
3. Meet new people.
I’m not for breaking old friendships, but if all of your friends are not interested in improving their health, they aren’t into working out, eating healthily, or quitting smoking, then let’s face it – they’re dragging you down in your pursuit of health and fitness. I’m not saying that you should sever all ties with them; however, if you can’t convince them to join you, then perhaps hanging out with new friends who share the same interests as you will keep you more motivated. After all, if you have someone whose company you enjoy to go to the gym with, then suddenly those rack of dumbbells don’t look as stale and boring. If you hang out with people who enjoy cooking healthy food, then you can cook together, swap recipes, etc. The wonderful thing with the Internet is that you can easily meet like minded people online with minimal effort.
4. Have a day off every week.
This is similar to #1, but different in that by incorporating set days off ahead of time, instead of waiting for the point where you already burned out (which is what #1 is discussing), then you’ll hopefully stay on track. In addition, you can use birthdays, anniversaries, etc. as additional days off (just don’t get too carried away – not every Hallmark holiday or cousin’s birthday is an excuse for a “day off”). Having a day off also gives you something to look forward to every week (sort of how during the work week we look forward to a weekend with less work). Just don’t overdo it. A day off doesn’t mean binging on half a dozen donuts and a pizza. Moderation is key here.
There you have it. By following the above steps, you’ll hopefully stay the course your entire life.
(Image links back to source: Tim’s Strategy)