Breaking out of a Fitness RutWorking out. Exercising. Running. Spinning. Pilates. Yoga. Whatever your workout of choice, staying consistent can be a challenge and can turn into a fitness rut.

Staying consistent has been a challenge for me.  Despite completing two marathons, many half marathons, and two triathlons, I still fall in and out of workout ruts much more often than I would like to admit.  I am able to ramp up workouts when trying to achieve a goal but then, one day becomes one week, and one week becomes one month, and before I know it, I find myself back at Fitness Rut Central.

Baby Steps to Break out of your Fitness Rut

I find that whenever I am trying to break out of my fitness rut, it is best if I start small and set myself up for success. Focusing on the future instead of comparing your present level of fitness to past levels helps me remember the importance of taking baby steps.  Sure, I might have just completed a triathlon, but now? Now I need to build back up to a three mile run. Now I need to build back up to a 20 mile bike ride.  Starting small and adding on..time, mileage, weights, intensity….whatever your indicator is, helps you to build up your endurance and can help you get back into your workout routine without injury.

Finding Something New to Motivate You

I have found that a new workout activity or routine can help me get excited about getting back into my fitness routine.  Zumba did the trick a few years ago, like pilates did a few years prior.  This season, I am breaking out of my rut with an indoor bicycle trainer and a combination of workout routines on the Wii and xBox. Plus, working out with the help of a Wii or xBox can turn into a family activity that will foster a sense of fitness in even the youngest members of your family.

Staying Accountable to Reach your Fitness Goals

Accountability matters. Knowing that someone is watching your progress, or better yet, is partnering with you, can be the ultimate in motivators.  Find a friend, neighbor, or co-worker to be your fitness buddy. You do not need even to workout together (although it is more fun and helps the time pass faster), just knowing that someone else is following a similar schedule can be enough to get you going.  Of course, enlisting the help of a personal trainer or signing up for a session of classes at a rec center can also be a source of accountability.

Set a Goal to Help you Visualize your Fitness Goals

The single most important factor me for me in breaking out of my fitness ruts has been to have a goal. A goal that is attainable. A goal that is practical.  For some it could be a 5k race, for others maybe a 10k or half marathon. For others it might even be making it through an entire class without stopping. Setting a goal keeps you honest in measuring your progress. It is quantifiable and concrete.  Equally important to setting the goal, it coming to grips with your expected outcome and being kind enough to yourself to celebrate your successes along the way.  I set goals all the time, sometimes reaching them, sometimes not. I learned the hard way, that putting my best effort into something does not always equate to success as measured by others. I have to be proud of my efforts, my progress, my journey.

What about you? What are your rut breaking rituals?

Elena is an Advanced Academic Resource teacher in Northern Virginia. She writes about the roller coaster of life at Ciao Mom and about celebrating ourselves at Just.Be.Enough.