Alyssa has a passion for fitness and sharing her favorite tips and tricks with the world. Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast.
The week leading up to, the week of, and the week after New Years brim with a renewed, uplifting energy. Many people look forward to this conceived fresh start and dream of the ways they will change for the better in the coming year. The most common resolutions revolve around losing weight and eating better. People go all out, purchasing cute, fancy clothes, workout equipment, and gym memberships. Maybe they start meal planning or subscribe to one of many meal delivery plans. All this money gets shelled out and by February or March, the excitement has worn off. Sadly, most people fail as old habits slowly creep back in to daily life.
A lot can be said about the fitness industry, the "diet culture" that many believe has dominated society for years, and beauty standards throughout the ages. However, it's my belief that, as with anything in life, you get out what you put in.
Setting goals, trying to improve yourself, and chasing your dreams are all important. I would argue that being specific about what it is you're trying to achieve as well as being realistic with your goals is equally important. Time, energy, and money are factors that must be considered when setting your goals.
It's also important to realize that mistakes and failure are a part of life. It's how you face them, what you learn in the process, and how you move on that defines who you are as a person.
Many things in life are completely out of your control. But you always have control over your actions, your reactions, and your attitude.
Now that I've set the stage with an amazing introduction, we can move on to the topic at hand. From the title, you already know where I'm headed. How do you get out of a fitness rut?
This article is going to read a little differently from everything else that I typically write. I'm trying something new with the narrative, taking you along with me on my own recent journey of rediscovering my love of fitness. Don't worry, I'm still going to break it up into actionable steps that I hope will help as you inevitably navigate life's ebbs and flows.
Grab a cup of coffee, maybe a pen and piece of paper or have your notes app handy, and settle in for a bumpy ride. There might be tears, a little laughter, and by the end, I hope you'll find a few of my strategies helpful as you move forward into the year.
Last May, I shared how I lost 20 pounds in the hope that it would inspire and help others on a weight loss journey. I'm no stranger to the ups and downs of the scale, yo-yo dieting, trying fitness program after fitness program, and even employing the help of diet pills, shakes, and the like. I thought I had it all figured out, until one fateful day when my doctor said something to me that stuck. In the article I mentioned above, I spoke about how, at the time, I was at the doctor for two specific issues every month, and each visit I had to step on the scale. I dreaded it with every fiber in my being and at my last visit, my doctor gave a general health statement. It was innocent enough, she had the best intentions when she told me to make sure I was getting 30 minutes of exercise every day. What I didn't share, and she didn't know, was at the time, I was exercising for hours each day.
My issue has never been exercise. My body craves movement and if I don't get my workout in for the day, I'm not a nice person. It's similar to coffee; I need my morning caffeine fix in order to function.
It wasn't always that way, but as I grew into adulthood and then had my son, I realized I didn't want to be one of those people who blamed having a baby on the way my body looked. Once I had my son, I exploded into the fitness world, even hitting my goal of slimming down for my wedding. But life happens, injuries happen, and I found myself in a vicious cycle of falling off the wagon and climbing back up again.
Fast forward a few years and I finally realized my problem was nutrition. I was eating too much and that's why I wasn't seeing the results of my hard work.
Once I got serious about my fitness goal, streamlined my workout routine and started paying attention to portion sizes and calories, the 20 pounds came right off. It wasn't always easy, but I pushed through on the tough days. I was proud of myself for reaching my initial goal.
Happily ever after, tie it up with a bow, life has been perfect ever since, right? Wouldn't it be wonderful if that was the end of the story; if after every goal you set, you sail off into the sunset with your new and improved life?
Maybe, but probably not. Life is not a fairytale and in my short time here on Earth, I've learned that it's the challenges that make the sweet, happy moments that much better. What would life be without a few bumps? Who would we be as people if we couldn't learn and grow from mistakes and failures?
Like many, I set new goals for myself. The difference is that I started after reaching my previous goal. What people don't tell you is that once you reach your fitness goal, you get hungry for more. You want to push a little farther, see how much you can truly accomplish.
I decided that if my body could be at this place I never thought it could, why not go for broke? 15 more pounds and one more jeans size. That's what I wanted and I went after it with vigor.
The problem was my body just wasn't having it. Months went by and I couldn't get the scale to budge. My clothes weren't getting looser. I started getting comfortable and complacent, old habits creeped back in. I entered another cycle of not tracking my calories and eyeballing portion size because I confidently believed that I knew what I was doing. Then I'd start tracking again, only to stop when we ate out or I didn't feel like doing the math. Pretty soon, I found myself enjoying extra snacks and giving my tastebuds the sweets they desired. To add insult to injury, I decided that I needed to branch out and try new workout videos. I wanted to dance and explore my options. Variety isn't a bad thing, but I started gravitating toward the new stuff and left the others for a day that never came.
It was around this time that I started rethinking my goals. Did I really want to lose an additional 15 pounds and drop one more jeans size? Was it truly possible for me? I decided that I would continue working, but stop when I accomplished one. Just one of the two, couldn't be that hard right?
The holiday season came blowing in and I was still in the same spot, only now I was trying to balance indulgence with my goals. I had a good mindset about it, determined not to feel guilty about enjoying the holidays. I even set out to change how my body looked in terms of definition.
Everything was going wonderfully; I was feeling confident and ready to crush my goals in the new year. Until it all came crashing down.
About a week into January, I found myself dreading my workout and cutting corners. The time I had to devote to my fitness dwindled as other tasks took precedence, and before I knew it, I found myself in a rut.
I knew it was bad when I didn't actually want to workout. Like I mentioned above, exercise had never been an issue for me. I love movement, my body craves it, but suddenly everything had changed. Yes, life got busy, but I've always managed to make fitness a priority in the past. Now, I was actively finding other tasks to do instead of my workout.
I let this go on for two weeks before I decided to do something about it. I got my house organized, took care of all the tasks that were catching my attention, and then took the time to look inward to figure out what the issue was.
1. Find The Root Of The Problem
The first thing I did was reflect. What was going on? I know I'm not a lazy person and these actions did not accurately represent who I was.
Am I sick?
Am I tired?
Those were the first two questions I asked myself. The weather had been up and down. One day it was 40 plus degrees, the next 20. We finally had a winter storm and luckily we didn't get a ton of snow, only three or four inches total. My allergies had been bothering me, but I wasn't sick.
The second question made me pause. I hadn't been sleeping well and I was definitely still recovering from the holidays with family. On a side note, isn't it amazing and tragic that in your 20's, you can bounce back with relative ease? I'm talking staying up until all hours of the night, getting maybe an hour or two of sleep, and then functioning just fine the next day. While in your mid-30's, it isn't that simple anymore. It takes so long to recover after having your schedule completely uprooted. After a few days of being able to sleep in, I rediscovered the energy that was lacking and started looking forward to my workouts again.
Okay, well problem solved right? I figured out I was just tired. A little catch up and I'm good again. Simple as that.
The first step is getting to the root of the problem.
2. Have An Honest Conversation With Yourself
The second step involves a little tough love. It's time to have an honest conversation with yourself.
Now, I'm sure you can imagine my relief when I realized what the issue was. No, I'm not lazy and filled with excuses. I'm just tired, like every other adult in the world. But sleep alone isn't going to magically make everything okay again. It certainly isn't going to single-handedly get me to my goal.
It was time to sit myself down and have a chat. Am I serious about this goal or not? Is this goal worth the time, energy, effort, and sacrifice?
Luckily, I didn't mess up my progress. I'm right where I was last May. Looking back, I realize how far I've come and I'm proud of myself.
But I needed to answer my questions. It wasn't easy and it took a little bit, but ultimately I decided that yes, it was worth it. I wanted to keep trying.
However, I know deep down that just saying I want to keep trying isn't going to be enough. If you've said yes as well, it's time to ask yourself another question; why?
Why do you want to achieve this goal? What will it look like, what will it feel like when you do?
Write your answers down in a safe, accessible place.
A well-built physique is a status symbol. It reflects that you worked hard for it. No money can buy it. You cannot inherit it. You cannot borrow it. You cannot hold onto it without constant work. It shows dedication. It shows discipline. It shows self respect. It shows dignity. It shows patience, work ethic, and passion.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger
3. Define Your Action Plan
Now that you have your why and an image in your mind of what it'll look like when you achieve your goal, it's time to figure out how you're going to get there.
For me, it came down to getting back to the basics. I love the KISS Method and it works perfectly here. Fitness doesn't have to be complicated.
I created a formula for my workout plan; What programs I'll be doing each day and built in time for rest. More importantly, it was time to break out the MyFitnessPal App again. If I truly want to achieve this goal, I need to track my nutrition. No more eyeballing it for now.
4. Get To Work
The best way to get something done is just to do it. So to speak, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. Show up for yourself. Get your workout in, follow your nutrition plan, repeat.
Understand that it's normal to find yourself in a rut now and again, but staying there is optional. It's completely up to you.
I'm proud to say that I'm back to my old self. I'm showing up every day and checking off the boxes I set up to help me achieve my goal.
I think it's important to note that I have a monthly check-in with myself on the last Sunday of each month. I take time to reflect on my goals and see if anything needs adjusted. I've been doing that consistently for two years. It helped me reach my initial goal and I highly recommend doing something similar as you move forward.
Something new I'm employing as I work toward this second goal is setting a deadline. I'll be continuing my monthly check-ins, but I'll be reevaluating my goal in its entirety in May. If I haven't reached it or I'm not seeing progress, it'll be time to reconsider the goal completely. Setting a deadline is optional, of course, but I think it adds a layer of accountability and can help in overall success.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Alyssa