Autopilot, Rut-roh!

Sometimes the go-to workout, meal, route, or routine is a total life-saver. We get stressed out or busy and having that dependable, quick go-to option is the ONLY way something is going to get done. Nothing wrong with letting our inner auto-pilot take over once in a while, we gotta do what we gotta do, right?

But if you’re suddenly finding it harder to get to the gym, go out for that run or fix that “favorite” meal, it may be just that inner-autopilot that’s steering you into the ground. Don’t necessarily mistake this as a lack of willpower on your part; disinterest in getting out and doing something or preparing a staple dish you once loved may be a simple case of being stuck in a rut! In the famous words (or not!) of Scooby Doo, “rut-roh!”

Here are a few tips for places to change things up in a hurry:

Find a new route: whether you walk, run, bike, hike, kayak…it’s nice to have a familiar route to master and feel comfortable on, but changing it up can bring new sites and sounds, and maybe provide a much needed challenge to your current level or ability. Plus, you never know what you might find or see just around the next bend!

Play with (or like) your kids: play tag, get down on the floor and wrestle, break out the Wii, skip, do cartwheels (I spontaneously did one of these the other day when I was out for a run, hah! Thank god there were no cameras!), get on the swingset…exercise doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous! Think of it as a reward rather than a punishment – time well spent caring for yourself. Make like Royal Caribbean and “Get out there!” Have FUN!

Explore new foods: personally for me this is the hardest of the bunch and I regularly fall into a food rut!  I have a handful of go-to meals that just *work.* I can grocery shop, prep, cook, and eat – all on autopilot. While there are times this is certainly advantageous, a lot of the time it can lead to not feeling satisfied, feelings of deprivation and just taking away from the general sense of enjoyment and satisfaction we should get from our food. Try new ways to prepare that chicken breast or better – try swapping it for a lean center cut pork loin, a lean cut of steak or ground beef, or turkey breast. Try new veggies or explore some cookbooks. The internet is amazing for creative ways to health-i-fy (I made it up!) your favorite recipes. I highly recommend Hungry Girl for some pretty inventive and amazingly tasty recipe makeovers.

Change up your strength routine: you should be doing this anyway, but step away from some of those old faves and try something new. Even if you keep the same basic exercise but switch up the equipment (swapping a machine chest press for a dumbbell chest press, for instance), you’re going to notice a difference in the way the movement feels and your body will respond positively to the change. You can also add variety to your strength workout by changing up the sets and rep scheme or by changing the order/days of your workout.

Find a new environment: get a free pass to a new gym for a week, grab a Groupon for a few classes at your nearest Yoga, Pilates or Kickboxing studio, switch from an indoor pool or treadmill to running outside or swimming in a lake or pool…heck, even picking a different cardio machine in the same gym can make a difference!

Take a class, join a team, or sign-up for an event: take a cooking or new group exercise class, you might learn something new or find a new “go-to!” Challenge yourself by signing up for a 5k, a sprint triathlon, a weightlifting meet then, go DO it! Even if it’s something you never imagined you could do before, you’ll amaze yourself.  Having a specific event to train and eat right for can vastly help with motivation by providing a goal to complete something new within a typically short/set time-frame and within a new set of training parameters and structure. Joining a team (think softball, volleyball, kickball…) can help you play like a kid again, get out into a new environment, challenge yourself, AND meet new people! Do it!

There are times auto-pilot is a necessity but it’s no way to live 100% of the time. It gets us through the crunch times but when we do that we also disconnect from all the positive emotion and enjoyment of life!  Some variety is essential to the long-term maintenance of your healthy lifestyle and success.

Note that if you do make changes and you’re still finding that lack of interest where once you  had great love, it may be time to look at other areas: it could be willpower (how do you hold yourself accountable? be truthful here), stress levels, illness, or overtraining. Take care to evaluate honestly what’s really going on and take the appropriate steps!

[important]Ultimately, the benefits of changing things up are enormous: moving your body differently, continually challenging yourself, and keeping yourself feeling satisfied and well nourished will keep you feeling strong, energized, youthful, and fully connected and engaged with life.[/important]

Let me know what rut you’ve been in and how you’re going to spice things up!

1 comment

  1. Wow, this is awesome! This is why I love training in martial arts because of the variety. This is a really good article.

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