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Stuck In A Rut?

March 11, 2010
By Carrie J. White

Have you ever been in the midst of your fitness program and just don't feel like moving today? Ever feel like you just don't have the energy to keep going, or you need a break from it? Well, you are certainly not alone.

Feeling "stuck in a rut" or "hitting a plateau" is very common in fitness programs, so don't despair.

Motivation levels rise and fall when we engage in our physical and mental activities. Generally, motivation is high in the beginning because the program is new, we have goals in place and are excited about getting started. Then somewhere in the middle of the program, we get tired, unmotivated, bored or just can't seem to summon the energy to continue. The weather is cold and our bodies just want to go into hibernation mode. This is when many people, generally around this time of year, give up and say it's just not worth the energy to continue.

There are ways around this feeling of de-motivation, so if you are on the verge of giving up, please continue reading. I may be able to offer you some ideas to keep you moving through the difficult parts of your program.

Motivation can come from either internal or external sources. Internal motivation comes from inside the person and is that feeling of control we have over an event or outcome. We participate in the activity for the love of doing it and the feeling we get from the accomplishment. People who are internally motivated to exercise do it because they love the feeling they get from a good workout. These are the people who tend to exercise every day because they get that euphoria of reaching a goal for themselves.

External motivation comes from outside the person. This is the type of motivation we get when we anticipate a reward for good work, or punishment for bad work. Some people are motivated to exercise because friends, family, physicians or others tell them they must in order to become healthy or to lose weight. They don't necessarily experience the love of fitness, but know they need to do it, so they force themselves to participate. This is an example of external motivation.

For anyone experiencing de-motivation, here are five ideas to consider for "re-motivating" yourself and get moving again.

1. Remind yourself why you are doing this. For externally motivated individuals, this may be remembering why you were told this exercise was necessary and how you felt when you first got started. Writing a note to yourself and placing it somewhere to remind you why, may be a good first step.

2. Make it fun! Maybe your routine is just plain boring. So think about mixing it up. Put on some music and just dance around the house to get your energy back. Who cares what you look like, just have some fun! If you are sitting on the couch watching TV, get up at the commercials and just move around, do some sit-ups or pushups or walk in place, whatever works for you.

3. Take a different approach. Take a good look at your schedule. Are you trying to add your exercise in at a time of day that is particularly stressful, you don't have the time, or your energy level is low? Maybe change the time of day or add a new activity during that time. You don't have to stay in the same routine in order to get fitness results.

4. Recognize your small steps. Remember, exercise is a lifelong activity. It shouldn't just stop when you reach your goals. Recognize the progress you have made so far instead of feeling frustrated that you haven't reached the end result.

5. Reward yourself. You have worked hard up to this point so don't get frustrated if you are in a rut. Reward yourself for the progress you have made so far.

Carrie J. White has 25 years of experience in the health and fitness industry as a club owner, manager and personal fitness trainer. She is a consultant in fitness club liability and risk management and is associate professor of the business administration in the College of Business at West Liberty University.

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