The best exercise is the one you’ll keep doing. It’s the one that challenges you – not because it hurts so much – because it draws the best version of you to the surface. When you’re finished, you shine; both on the outside and on the inside. If you’re not glistening with sweat and satisfy action after your workout, maybe it’s time to shake it up. This brings us to another obstacle in my “Tips for Getting Over the Exercise Hump” series:
“I’m bored with my routine and don’t know what to do.”
About every four weeks, I get bored with my workouts. It’s like clockwork. The standard advice from fitness folks is to spice up my routine with new challenges. Go a little longer, a little faster, a little harder. These are not bad ideas. I found tiny improvements – especially when I first started exercising – helped me stay motivated. Instead of five minutes on the bike, I pushed for seven. Instead of ten laps in the pool, I stretched to eleven. These upgrades were like little celebrations on the way to a big party. In fact, I started chopping up my progress into littler and littler goals, just so that I could have more to celebrate. It was a fantastic way to keep my aching body moving forward.
Once I ramped up to a level of endurance which could take me farther and allow me to do more, I had to find new ways to keep boredom at bay. I’ve found two methods quite helpful:
1) Grow with the seasons. Use Mother Nature as a guide for defining your workouts. This works well in places like Montana where we have four, distinct seasons and lots of outside exercise options. In the spring, I chose to train for a half-marathon. Early morning training walks became magical as the dew distilled all those fragrant, spring aromas into crisp air. I felt alive! This summer, I’m getting back on my bike and combining my daily commute with my workout. Feeling the wind against my face, and the speed under my wheels, reminds me of being a kid. This fall, I will awaken my hiking legs and bag a couple of local peaks with some stellar views. By winter, I’ll be ready to snow-shoe through the powder and bask in the blue skies of February. Then, next spring, I’ll brainstorm it all over again.
2) If outside activity is not an option for you, then I suggest shaking it up with special, short-term programs. My gym hosts a plethora of five-week classes like: Core Obsession, TRX, and more. Adding these topic-specific programs allows you to sample new exercises. Who knew you could get such a surge in your routine out of a giant beach ball? How is it that a couple of well-placed straps can reveal muscles you didn’t even know you had? Using your body in new ways can sculpt and trim your frame quicker and easier.
What if you’ve done all this, however; and you’re still bored? If you’ve celebrated small goals along the way, played outside, and tested new programs – but still suffer from incessant boredom – it’s time to look inward. I try something new every four weeks, but I wonder…will I just get bored in another four weeks? What happens after that? I’d like to understand this habit of boredom and overcome its numbing power.
I found understanding in an astute observation from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”
Marianne’s words challenge me. Could I be using boredom as an excuse? If nothing keeps me engaged anymore, then maybe it’s more than boredom. After all, I’m the common denominator in all this. Could I be blaming boredom when I’m really just avoiding exposure by my own light? If I truly lived up to my potential, then I’d have to admit that I am the only one in my way; I bare responsibility for how my body feels and looks, even for how my life looks. That kind of accountability feels too stark, too bright.
But, I can’t resist the hope inside Ms. Williamson’s words. If I could learn to live in my light, imagine what I could do! Imagine how I could feel! Maybe I could start with small steps – taking a queue from when I first started exercising – and learn to live in my light bit-by-bit. Maybe my exercise routine is the perfect place to start.
If I could forsake boredom by insisting upon bringing my light to something as simple as riding a bike, then I could discover what’s on the other side of that weary fog. Where do I start? By making how I’m working out just as important as why. First, I want my workout to be something I love which makes me feel more like my true self. Then, as I’m breathing heavy, I go inside. I notice how clean and clear I feel. I focus on each instant, inhabiting the present. I sense strength as my muscles meet every flex with vigor. I hear my heart beat solid in my throat. I tap into a power source greater than breath and body. I glow with energy. In this moment, I am the light, and I find myself smiling.
So, if boredom is an exercise hump that keeps you from your light, let your workouts evolve just as you do. Change, grow, and become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Find a workout which makes you feel more like your true self.
Shelby writes sassy, inspiring stories about weight loss. In this blog, she chronicles her weight loss journey. Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.