Winter is undoubtedly the toughest time of year to maintain fitness. Whether or not you live in a cold environment, the increasing darkness is tough. Motivation is significantly harder to come by when it’s dark on your way to work in the mornings, and then dark again when you return. The lengthy darkness certainly does not add any motivation to complete a workout, and suddenly I am stuck in a fitness funk.
I’ve found myself in many self-proclaimed “fitness funks” each year. Whether it’s because of an especially busy week, a stressful time, or challenging weather conditions, the funk creeps up. I can feel it coming, as my motivation lessens and laziness increases. Each day it’s harder and harder for me to convince myself to get active. After a few days of mental struggle, I finally give in and skip a workout.
Once I skip my first workout, I know the real struggle is beginning. It is absolutely a thousand times – no, a million times – harder to get motivated again once I’ve skipped some workouts. As soon as I skip one, I find my excuses plummeting in at rocket speed. Every reason I’ve ever thought of to get me out of a working out is suddenly fresh in the front of my mind.
And thus begins my fitness funk.
Getting back at it after missing a few, or a lot, of workouts is exponentially more challenging. It is said that “an object at rest remains at rest”, and I have found this to be absolutely true of my body. When I skip some workouts and choose to be lazy instead, my body gets used to the extra rest. Getting it moving again is way more challenging than if I had just kept it moving to begin with.
So how do we get out of this fitness funk?
It’s one heck of a challenge, I know that. I have a lot of strategies that making staying active easier – planning for it, getting your clothes out the night before, a reward system, you name it – but all of these strategies assume that you are in the midst of creating a routine. None of them are especially helpful when your routine has been altogether lost to the fitness funk.
The most successful strategy I have used to completely start back up again is to find something new. It doesn’t have to be a completely new sport (i.e. if you’re a runner you don’t have to switch to volleyball), but could be just a new variation or plan. If you’re a runner but find yourself in a fitness funk, try signing up for a race or creating a training plan to begin the following week. Maybe you’re usually a gym junkie but haven’t been back in a few weeks – try finding a new workout to try on a different machine. If you used to be a workout-aholic in your living room, find a bodyweight challenge to start on Monday.
Changing up your routine, developing a plan, and giving yourself until the end of the week to wallow in laziness is always something that helps me get back at it.
January is an especially challenging month for me in terms of fitness motivation. This past month I’ve found myself immersed in a workout plan that doesn’t seem to be exciting any more. While I still have one more week to complete before I can be done with the plan, I spent some time signing up for my big spring race and creating a training plan. This simple action has motivated me exponentially. While the training plan doesn’t start until the beginning of February, having something new on the horizon is like a breath of fresh air. I feel motivated to strengthen my body before training starts, and finish something I’ve started.
Challenging ourselves in new ways helps us unlock new sources of motivation that we may not have known were there to begin with. You never know what something is like until you try, so if you find yourself in a fitness funk, it could just be your mind’s way of telling you to mix it up.