The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

images[1]Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. Thanks Wikipedia!

We all experience burnout whether it’s at work, home, with family, friends, diet, and even exercise, maybe especially exercise.

Consider how many gym memberships purchased in January go unused in July, or how all you can think about is a cheeseburger two weeks into a new diet plan. Burnout can happen over years or in a matter of days.

Certain habits or lack of certain habits will accelerate the burnout process.

 

So if you don’t want to suffer from exercise burnout….

DO NOT Wing It

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes, and creating lofty, long-term goals without establishing checkpoints along the way is failing to plan. Shoot for the moon, but include intermediate and short-term goals to assure that you remain on track to achieve your long-term goals.

Example:

Long-term goal: I will finish a marathon this year.

Intermediate goal: I will finish a half marathon within the next six months.

Short-term goal: Within the next week, I will jog three times for a minimum of 10 minutes each run.

Writing goals down (on paper, using a smart phone app or online software program) is an absolute must.

DO NOT Forget to Self-Assess

Your goal-setting process should include assessing weak links in the chain and how to address them. Using the example above of planning to finish a marathon, short-term goals could include completing some form of a fitness test, such as a one-mile run for time, gait analysis, nutrition consultation, body composition analysis, etc.

Example:

Short-term Goal No. 2: Within the next two weeks, I will complete a one-mile run for time to assess my current fitness status.

Intermediate goals should re-evaluate these tests every few weeks to validate your exercise regimen and determine what tweaks you may need to make. Modifying goals along the way (to account for “life”) is a  key to achievement and  sustained motivation. Altering your long-term goals can also be critical; for example, switching from the full marathon to the half marathon two weeks before a race is better than not showing up at all.

DO NOT Skimp on Sleep

Research suggests those who sleep less than six hours per night are at greater risk for burnout. Too little sleep can cause fatigue, impaired mental function and increased sensitivity to stress, as well as decreased motivation and physical performance. In a busy world, we seem to prioritize so much at the expense of ZZZs. There are usually enough excused to go around for not exercising, don’t add “too tired” to the list.

DO Take Time to Truly Relax

Multiple experts agree that a key to avoiding burnout from your job is being able to turn off work when you get home. Likewise, tuning out from exercise from time to time is essential to maintaining a long-term fitness program. Expert coaches suggest taking at least one day per week completely off from structured exercise and including another day or two of restorative activities (yoga, hikes, naps and Sunday football couch potato-ing all count as restoration). Every few months, take an entire week off, and just relax.

DO Find a Sport You Enjoy

Some people hate running – I would not suggest a marathon training program for those individuals. The key to longevity of an activity or fitness program is enjoyment; sometimes you must ignore what your friends are doing or the most popular class at your gym, and simply do what makes you happy. If it makes you sweat and also makes you smile, it’s the right activity for you. I still have a Groupon for 4 Pilate’s classes hanging over my head, because my friends think Pilate’s is great…. I am a gym rat and always will be.

DO NOT Overdo It

A fine line exists between what fitness experts call over-reaching and over-training. Over-reaching involves applying the overload principle to exercise, i.e. increasing the intensity, duration and/or frequency of exercise to create positive stress on your body that will gradually result in fitness gains. When over-reaching, you should feel tired and sore, but two to three days of adequate recovery should cure that.

Over-training occurs when the increase in physical activity is too much and recovery is insufficient. It can involve loss of sleep, lethargy, injury and a lack of fitness gains despite an increased workload. When in doubt, listen to your body – go hard when you feel good, and rest up when you feel overworked.

DO NOT Live for Repetition

Imposing the exact same stress demand on our bodies habitually does not result in positive gains. Doing the same activities each day or the same exercise routine will lead to a physical plateau and eventual mental burnout. Not to mention it gets really boring! Even if you’re a creature of habit, add variety to your favorite activity… it may be a change of scenery, faster or slower run times, switching up the free weights for machines, taking a Zumba class instead of Yoga, or whatever.. A change of pace and scenery may keep your muscles honest and your mind fresh.

The path toward burnout is can be averted. Self-assessment, goal planning, adequate sleep and recovery, variety and, most importantly, enjoyment can keep you pointed in the direction of lifelong fitness and goal accomplishment.

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.

The Right Way to Eat Wrong During SuperBowl

155 Billion Calories. That is himages[2]ow many calories will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

A few items on our must have list for food include Chex mix, Girl Scout ice cream (Thin Mint and Samoas). Have you seen this ice cream? It looks fantastic! …. Limited time only, though. I better stock up. Okay, back to the list. Pringles, pizza, wings, cookies, and more. I am definitely doing some extra cardio over the next few days.
So, whether you are going to a party or staying home, here are a few some Super Bowl eating tips.

 

1. You know one of my favorite sayings is to make your calories count. On Super Bowl Sunday this is key. If you are staying home, you are in complete control of what treats you have. Get only the things you really love. If you are going to a party or bar, when you arrive, take a quick inventory of what food is available. Choose only your absolute favorites, and INDULGE! (I will not be eating Pringles, but may eat my weight in pizza, or Girl Scout ice cream if it is as yummy as it sounds!)

 

2. Use a small plate for your food. So many studies are out now that say if your eye perceives a small amount of food, your brain will tell your stomach that you are not satisfied. A reasonable portion on a regular size plate may not look like a satisfying amount, but a reasonable portion on a small plate can trick the eye and brain so that the signal to the stomach is that you are getting enough food to satisfy your hunger.

 

3. Before you go, eat a small healthy snack at home. Sometimes we think that we should “save” our calories until the party, so we don’t eat anything all day. When we show up, we are starving and go crazy on the food. If you have a healthy snack before you go, you won’t pig out right when you arrive. If you are staying home, don’t start eating your Super Bowl cupcakes for breakfast. Decide on a time frame that you will have your treats out.

 

4. Indulge in your favorite treats within the first 20 minutes of the “party”. Be mindful and recognize when you are full. For the next four hours or so, everyone will be sitting around the television munching. Mindless munching. You will already have eaten your favorites, and you are probably full, but you may want to munch. Most parties are going to have a fruit plate or a veggie tray (or you bring one, so you know there is a healthy option). Make veggies your mindless munching choice. Guacamole and salsa with carrots would be a good plan B.

 

5. Seat strategy: choose your seat so that it is across the room from the coffee table loaded with treats. You may not want to walk across the room in front of everyone .

 

Go Team! Yea Food!

Get Started (again) – Good Exercise Habits

We have all been there, probably several times. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym or done any type of exercise. Your day to day busy schedule, getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work have kept you from exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?

Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just do it. You go to the gym, you run three days a week, you play tennis every other day, you take a kick boxing class every Tuesday, etc… there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off. Choose the ones that you like and make the most sense, and then choose a few that don’t. You may be surprised at how well some of these tips work.

Reward Showing Up – 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go. Just go!

Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. There is an endless range of programs that can suit your tastes.

Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can adjust your workout plan to incorporate all the exercises you like and take out the exercises you don’t like. You will notice that after time, your likes and dislikes will change. An exercise you used to hate, may become one of your favorites.

Realistic Scheduling – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit. I have a very good friend who is always willing to go to a spin class with me, and she has turned me on to Pilates.

X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.

Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.

Habits First, Equipment Later – Expensive equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a bunch of equipment. Furthermore, some of the most effective exercises require no equipment at all.

Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.

Start Small – Trying to run ten miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Ease your body and mind into your exercise routine, and after a few weeks you will want to start challenging yourself by doing more.

 

Cardiovascular Exercise – 3 Reasons To Get Your Heat Pumping

Love it or hate it, cardio is the key to good health.  I usually dread cardio, but I am oh so glad when it is over.  My flavor of the month right now is spinning and running.  I love to run through the neighborhood, but hate running on the treadmill, so running might have to take a hiatus for the next month or so, until it cools off a bit.  Even at 5:00 AM it seems to be hitting 90 degrees lately.

The term cardio covers a wide range of activities that include the use of major muscle groups in the body working in a continuous manner. But most importantly, the heart muscle is the one to benefit the most from cardiovascular exercises. There are various physical activities that can be considered cardio training, such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, as well as taking classes like Zumba, cardio kick boxing, or even something as novel as pole dancing.

The nice thing about cardio is that even a little bit goes a long way to lead you to good health.

1. It boosts energy levels. Regular cardio exercise can help in improving a person’s energy levels. When the body goes through regular cardio training, it slowly adapts and is more able to cope with the added strenuous physical activity. People become less tired while doing more work. In the process, they can become more energetic. Physical endurance isn’t just important for exercising. Think about playing with the kids (we just got an X-Box Kinect, and I need all the energy I can get), power shopping during the holidays, sightseeing on vacation. The more energy the more fun you will have in your every day activities.

2. It helps improve weight control and metabolism. Regular cardio exercises can help maintain your desired weight level. When we do cardio, our bodies require more energy and our metabolism speeds up to supply it. With an improved metabolism, the body can burn more calories more efficiently. Regular cardio training can also help build up muscles,  and muscle burns calories, while fat does not. This means that the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will remain at all times.

3. It helps prevent disease. Regular cardio training can help in the prevention of heart disease. The heart also has muscles that make it work more effectively. Strengthening them makes the heart grow stronger and delay or prevent the development of diseases associated with the heart. Most cardio strengthens the lungs as well. Conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease can be prevented with regular cardio exercise and training.

So even if you hate doing cardio, your heart and your health love it.

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