Your running shoes have gone untouched for months. Your yoga pants are officially loungewear. And all that hard work you put in at the gym? Totally melted away. In fact, you'd officially describe yourself as less than fit again.
This is the all-too-familiar (and very frustrating) cycle many of us find ourselves in — myself included. I'll have a few good months where I get all ripped ("ripped"), followed by a few months where I totally fall off the exercise wagon. Since I feel so much healthier when I actually exercise, it amazes me that I struggle to keep up the habit.
I know I'm not alone in this, so what gives? What unseen forces are getting in the way of our fitness destiny? Apart from physical issues — like getting sick, or spraining an ankle — a lot of it has got to be mental. I mean, there's no doubt it's a mental block that keeps you curled up in bed, instead of exercising before work. And it's almost always your choice to sail on past the gym, instead of popping in for a quick yoga class. If you agree this is probably the case, then read on for some other mental blocks that might be preventing you from looking after your health, as well as how to fix the problem.
1. You Feel Self-Conscious
If it's been a minute since you went to the gym, surrounding yourself with toned bods can feel downright intimidating. Same goes for jogging red-faced past lines of traffic, or popping into a fast-paced Zumba class (where everyone is clearly a professional backup dancer). It's hard not to feel self-conscious, and it's even harder not to compare yourself. But do try. "Switch your focus from those around you to how your body feels as it moves," said Barbara Markway, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. You'll quickly be reminded that working out isn't a competition, but something you do to feel healthier.
2. You Don't Prioritize Yourself
Taking the time to cook yourself healthy meals, or to stop by the gym, requires putting yourself first. And that's something lots of ladies (and dudes) definitely struggle with. "You may think 'it's all about me' is selfish," said health writer Karen Asp on WebMD.com. "But consider this: Other people benefit from your 'me time,' too." If this is your mental block, think about how a steady workout routine would help you focus at work. Or how a better diet could prevent all those "hangry" moments you have with friends. Use that as motivation, and start taking better care of yourself.
3. You Expect Magic Results
If you used to be in pretty good shape, it can be incredibly frustrating to start back at square one. And if you keep falling off the exercise wagon, this will happen again and again. So keep in mind that consistency is key. "Realize it's not all gonna happen overnight and be realistic about your goals and how long it may take to get there the healthy way," says Jenn Seracuse, Director of Pilates at Flex Fitness, in an email to Bustle. If you can keep this in mind, you'll be less likely to give up.
4. You Are "Too Busy"
OK, so you might occasionally be too busy for exercise. But if this is your go-to excuse for years on end, clearly it's just that — an excuse. To break the bad habit, start treating your exercise routine as an important part of your schedule. "This will make it much more likely that you don't let something else get in the way of your workouts, and eventually help you build a workout habit for life," said fitness expert Krista Stryker on MindBodyGreen.com.
5. You View Exercise As All Or Nothing
It's pretty common to think of exercise as an all or nothing thing. You should either go hard 24/7, or not bother at all. But this black and white mentality can send you drivin' right on past the gym. So keep in mind that even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. Think along the lines of a 15 minute jog, or a walk during your lunch break. It all adds up, and it all helps.
6. You Choose The Wrong Workouts
If you hate running, then don't lace up those sneakers. And if you're not lusting after toned arms, then don't bother spending hours pumping weights in the gym. If you feel like you're wasting your time, it can cause you to give up on working out altogether. "Ask yourself if the workout you're doing is an effective one for the results you are looking for," Seracuse says. If it's not, don't be afraid to change things up.
7. You Give Into Laziness
I'd say laziness is one of the top reasons people get out of shape. And it makes sense, doesn't it? In traditional terms, exercising means putting on special clothes and moving out of a seated position — and that can totally suck. But that's why at-home exercises exist. Some can even take place mere feet from your couch. As healthy living editor Alena Hall suggested on HuffingtonPost.com, "During the commercial breaks of your current television show, move through a quick bodyweight circuit. Pair squats with the first commercial, pushups with the second, and a plank hold with the third to hit all major muscle groups in under two minutes." Easy as that.
8. You Aren't In It For The Right Reasons
What's your reason for working out? If it's to look like that one actress, or to impress your crush, then you'll probs end up giving up. That's because you need to be working out for you in order for the commitment to stick. Keep everyone else out of it, and you'll be in a better head space to stick a healthy routine.
9. You Feel Bored
It's easy to confuse a boring workout routine with the notion that you hate exercise. Maybe you don't. Maybe you just hate jogging, or can't stand yoga. If you suspect this to be the case, change things up and give another routine a try. " I always say, 'Find your soulmate workout,' and that will become your gateway into sticking with a fitness routine," Seracuse says. Ride your bike or play soccer in the park. As long as you're having fun, you'll be more likely to continue.
10. You Get Totally Overwhelmed
Whenever I'm decently out of shape, the thought of moving again sounds downright awful. I feel like I'll never again be able to jog a mile, or do crunches, and it seems easier to just... not. Is this your downfall, too? Then think about taking it one (small) step at a time. "Set goals that are small and realistic," said Springen. Jog for five minutes, then stop. Try for ten minutes the following day. This method will help you slowly work back up to where you once were — no overwhelm necessary.
11. You Think You Hate Exercise
Have you made up your mind that exercise sucks and is not for you? If so, it may be time to look at things a bit differently. Instead of zeroing in on your sore muscles, focus on how good you'll feel. And instead of focusing on your slow progress, think about how fun it is exercise with friends. This will turn exercise into something you want to do, versus something you have to do.
And that's going to help you stick with it. If you can have fun while focusing on how you feel, you'll be creating a healthy habit that can last forever.
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