If the workout you used to enjoy has become a frustrating chore, you might be facing burnout. And if that’s the case, it’s time to look at your fitness goals.
Some people start exercising without a plan; they might not even identify the fitness benefits they hope to achieve.
Maybe they go to the gym and always use the same piece of cardio equipment, at the same settings. Or they’ll do weight training with similar sets and number of reps, year after year.
What often happens in these cases?
Their bodies are no longer challenged, so they don’t respond to the workout the way they once did. And the workouts become tedious. This is a good recipe for burnout.
At the other extreme are those who set goals and then refuse to modify them no matter what’s going on in their bodies or their lives.
They would rather beat themselves up for not meeting all of their original goals to perfection.
This is another formula for burnout.
There is a happy middle ground where you can remain challenged and even enthusiastic about exercise. Set goals that are specific and reachable.
Don’t just say, “I’m going to exercise four times a week.” Say, “I’m going to take 45-minute walks four times a week, and do a fun run in July.”
Then, re-evaluate and reset your goals frequently, even if the adjustments are minor.
Stick to your plan but allow yourself a little wiggle room.
When I was training for marathons, I generally followed a set weekly program with some days of moderate running; other days with long, slow runs; and a day or two of rest.
Distances would gradually increase over the weeks of training.
I learned over time that it was OK if on an occasional 20-mile day I didn’t run the full 20 miles. And if it meant repeating the training program for week 12 during week 13, that was OK, too.
Unexpected circumstances were going to come up occasionally and limit my time or physical abilities. By accepting this, I could enjoy following the plan most of the time and still finish the marathon.
Another key to warding off burnout is cross-training. If wellness is going to be a part of your life, you probably will experience many stages and types of exercise along the way.
Maybe tennis was a favorite at 30 and Zumba at 45. Check with your neighbors, the Internet, and your local gyms and fitness centers to discover the latest fitness trends and classes. Then add one or more of these activities to your workout to keep it fresh.
Group training is one of the activities that’s popular; people enjoy the camaraderie and group encouragement. The worst part of burnout is that it can be difficult to get started again.
If you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a friend, a personal trainer or a class.
There are a lot of options out there; you just need to take that first step.
Cindy Eggemeyer is the executive director of Edward Health & Fitness Centers, with locations in Naperville, on the campus of Edward Hospital, 801 S. Washington St., and in Woodridge, 6600 S. Route 53. For more information, visit www.edward.org/fitness. Cindy can be reached at 630-646-7915 and firstname.lastname@example.org.