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.

Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

fridge_pic-full[1]I love Google. I use it for almost everything, including health care, how to do whatever, recipes, shopping, and more. But Googling weight loss is like opening Pandora’s Box. There are way too many sites and supplements that are questionable at best, aimed at your pocket book rather than your waist line. Here are five family friendly fit tricks for healthy weight management.

1. Build a healthy home environment. It can be as simple as having a fruit bowl on the table, rather than a bin full of fruit tucked away at the bottom of the fridge. Keeping healthy food visible encourages kids (and adults) to grab and go when they are hungry and in a hurry. Keep cut up veggies, yogurt, or fruit salad front and center in the fridge. When a kid (or adults) opens the refrigerator to mindlessly search for snacks, the healthy option will catch their eye.

2. Purchase small portions and limited amounts of convenience food that is high in sugar and fat. Pre-portion any junky snacks in little ramekin cups, baggies, or mini cupcake liners, so there is no mindless eating from the bag of chips or cookie box. Store these items in the images[9]pantry on a higher shelf so they are less visible.

3. Make physical activity a routine, and make it fun. Take a walk or walk the dog after dinner to unwind. Get up during commercials while watching your favorite show and play catch with a Nerf ball, or strike up a game of balloon volleyball with your kids.

4. Eat meals around the table, at home as often as possible. Family meals offer kids a chance to see parents eating healthy. Show how to load the plate with a variety of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and carbs. Meat packs between 55-110 calories per ounce, so it’s easy to pack on the pounds when the portion shifts even a couple of ounces on a regular basis (especially as you age).

5. Praise yourself and your kids when you practice the skills and behaviors linked with healthy eating. Give high fives after those active commercial breaks. Notice when you and your kids have put in the effort to taste an unfamiliar food and choose healthy options over the junk.

 

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.

Just a Little Bit of Something

 

When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing especially on those busy days. If you intended to get up early and exercise, but it didn’t happen, just be sure to do something before you go to bed that night. It will energize you mentally knowing that you did something even though your day was crazy. And of course it will energize you physically.

 

So exercise when you can throughout the day.  If you missed your morning workout and you know you won’t have time in the evening, fit in some type of exercise or movement every chance get. A few of my faves…

 

  1. Park as far away from the door as possible whether it be the mall, your office, the grocery store, or wherever you might be.
  2. Use your lunch break to go for a walk, climb up and down the stairs, or even do some calf raises or wall push-ups in the bathroom stall.  Get creative!
  3. If you set your mind around exercising when you can, you’ll find yourself doing butt squeezes in the grocery store and leg lifts when making dinner.

 

Exercising before bed is also a great time to fit in a mini-workout because bedtime tends to be routine. Don’t worry a little exercise before bed will NOT make it difficult to fall asleep. These exercises can be whatever you want them to be. 50 crunches while watching TV, 30 squats when brushing your teeth, 10 push-ups while swishing mouthwash. Don’t let a day go by without doing something. Even if it is just a little bit of something. 

 

 

Some type of exercise is ALWAYS better than nothing at all. 

 

Why Do My Muscles Shake When I Exercise?

Muscles may make the body move, but it’s the connective tissue (the layer of fluid filled tissue between the skin and the muscles) that receives the signal from the brain to cause the movement. So does the brain really want the muscle to shake, or is part of the message lost in translation?

The shaking that occurs toward the end of an exercise or workout can be a signal from the brain that the muscle is exhausted. It has been worked hard enough, and it may be time to stop. The shaking can happen more often when the muscle is worked harder than normal or doing a new exercise .

It is also possible that the message from the brain gets a little garbled on its way through the connective tissue, due to other factors like level of hydration and electrolyte balance, and the timing of the muscle movement can get a little out of whack.

When the fibers in the muscle get the initial call to action, they contract to cause the correct movement (also called muscle firing).   But not all fibers are created equal—there are fast twitch and slow twitch muscles .  Like the names suggest, slow twitch muscles have a slow reaction time to contract, and are generally used for activities such as walking, maintaining posture, and most daily activities, and therefore they don’t tire out too quickly.  Whereas fast twitch muscles have a quick contraction time, and are used for short bursts of activity like sprinting, jumping, and lifting weights. They can tire out much faster.

Muscle fibers don’t all fire, or contract at the same time. Some fibers are resting while others work to make the muscle move, and then they trade off. As the muscle is challenged more and more, this changeover can get a little ragged, and there is not enough contracting going on to keep the muscle steady and moving smoothly. It begins to shake.  When the shaking begins, the muscle may be close to exhaustion so stopping is inevitable.  But recognize that the muscle has been pushed to its limits, and it might be time to back off.

No matter how hard the workout, be sure to hydrate. If the connective tissue, which is like bubble wrap and fiber optics all rolled into one, gets dehydrated, the message for the muscle to fire doesn’t get delivered, and the firing sequence can get confused, causing the muscle to shake.  To help counteract shaking due to dehydration, be sure and restore fluids while working out.

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