Updated: Apr 24
We are finally talking about the elephant in the room. As the title suggests, in this article we are going to find reasons why people ditch their workout programs and then we will try to come up with a few workable solutions.
Let us understand why going through this exercise is so important. Working out, or any kind of habit requires a certain amount of time investment to yield results. Denying oneself that opportunity by quitting earlier than necessary is self-sabotage at best. We need to be able to call out our own BS when we are looking for a way out.
First of all we need to realize that the only way to stick to it is by making it non-negotiable. Like how looking after for your new born baby is a non-negotiable, how going to work is another non-negotiable, add another non-negotiable - working out. It doesn't matter if it is 2 hours or 20 minutes, you must decide to move with an intention of using your body very very vigorously.
That being said, let us see some of the reasons that make it hard for some of us to get on the wagon and then stay on it.
Not enough time - While this was a big reason prior to pandemic and work from home days, it has become an even bigger reason why people are not able to workout. On the surface, it may even seem ironic that someone is being home yet they don't get anytime to cook healthy meals or workout.
Many researches show, working out as little as 10 minutes per day can significantly lower someone's risk of dying from a CV event.
I know, it is not a cope. Work from home has allowed the employers to work their employees for long hours. It is then your responsibility to block out a time to work. You may not be able to exercise for a long time, or with as many equipment as you would've in a gym but we have to make do with what we got.
We do not need a ton of work, many researches show working out as little as 10 minutes per day can significantly lower someone's risk of dying from a CV event. The important thing is to do some work. Overtime you will get creative with your workouts fitting them in your routine. One of the easiest ways to get in your daily exercise quota is by doing it first thing in the morning.
If you do any of these things than you have time to workout -
Using social media between calls
Watching something on OTT
Simply lying down
Squabbling with your spouse, maid, parents, or siblings.
Reading about fitness
Watching random videos on YouTube paralyzed by the sheer volume of seemingly important information staring at you. P.S. - It is not important information.
Too tired to workout - Consider this, when was the last time that you sincerely worked out? If you can count in years, months, or even weeks know that the fatigue that you feel in your muscles is because of being stuck in the same desk posture day in day out.
If you don't pay to keep and increase your health now, you are going to pay for medicines to have any semblance of health.
Vigorously moving your body will get the blood flowing in muscles that are usually gasping for oxygen. Sitting for long time can and will cause the blood flow to certain muscles to diminish thus causing accumulation of waste products leading to pains and aches. The cure is simple, drive blood and oxygen to suffocating muscles, and joints by moving vigorously.
Another reason could be that your diet has been a mess ever since you had to work ungodly hours. But again, if you could do the things listed in the point above you can make food, or you can subscribe to a service that delivers healthy food to your home. If you don't pay to keep and increase your health now, you are going to pay for medicines to have any semblance of health.
Poor eating habits can cause a lack of energy and vigor, leading to lethargy. Eat fresh whole foods. Snack on nuts, and whole fruits, drink more water, get up from your desk as much as you can and move your body gently. If you can do something intense, nothing like it, if not then stretch, move your arms and legs gently. These will perk up your spirits.
Sleeping is often sacrificed in a world obsessed with numbers and success at a young age. But this may well be sending us to our graves early. Even if you are not concerned about dying early, not sleeping enough, or sleeping well is what may be causing you to be groggy and tired all day. You need to fix your sleeping routine. At least 7-9 hours.
Some tips to improve the sleep quality -
Sleep and wake up at the same time.
Keep your bedroom only for sleeping and having sex. If your mind associates bedroom with work it may become difficult for you to fall asleep or have sex which will help you fall asleep.
Have a small self-care routine before going to bed. Need not be elaborate can be as simple as foam rolling your calf, moving your toes, doing cat-camels.
You sleep better when the room is neither too cold nor too warm. A room between 25-27 degree Celsius is the best.
Turn off all screen at least 2 hours before sleeping.
Write a journal to allow the mind to decompress.
You are stressed - Stress can make everything at least 10x harder. In that situation get help, seek a therapist and work through the clutter that is making you more stressed. Sometimes though, a hard workout is all that you need.
I can understand that you may not feel super pumped to do anything, in that case just showing up at the gym will give you a chance to interact with other people which can potentially help you release some of the stress.
Also, don't go all in from the get go. Take a couple of extra minutes to warm up, focus on your breath, maybe do something else - yoga, zumba, aerobics, whatever fancies you. Sometimes, changing your routine a little can break the monotony related to working out and novelty is usually refreshing. Knowing that you can choose not to do your regular workout can thus ease the pressure of working out and thus make the prospect of going to the gym a little less stressful.
Sticking to your workout will eventually relieve your stress a little, as you have already taken care of your health.
Sometimes, Life Happens - It is true, people you love move, there's death in family, weddings, childbirth all of which are profound life moments. It is okay to take some time away from working out. Engage with what calls you to it the most because you can, your body will enable you to do it.
Don't be that person who is in the gym when life is happening to them.
Dealing with death and separation is hard, but remembering that eventually the one who stays has to move on too. Take your time to come to that realization and when you do return to your workouts and your life, job, friends, hobbies.
Remember, it is okay to sometimes get off the wagon, so long as you plan to get back on it and ride further.
Working out is boring - Yes, its not necessary for the workout to be fun in order to yield results. However, if it absolutely crushes your soul rather than uplifting it, despite your best efforts it is time to consider a few alternatives.
Remember, there's no one correct way of working out. There's sports, running, swimming, biking, jumping ropes, kettlebells, calisthenics, yoga, etc. The workout that will give you the best result is the workout that you will stick to, for years.
You can even chose multiple ways of working out, so the things don't become stale. A sincere advice though, keep strength training as one of the ways your workout, varying other workouts periodically. For eg., you can chose strength training + biking + dancing for a few months, then for the next few months you may swap biking and dancing for other exercises. This way you'll not get bored of doing a single thing.
I will go into the benefits of doing strength training in your workout in conjunction with your sports, or dance in a future article.
If your gripe is not with the mode of working out but that you feel lonely working out all by yourself, then invite a friend over to workout with you, or join a group training. Having people around to compete with and where you all encourage each other to push past your limits is great for training. This is one of the main reasons people love Crossfit.
The community effect is big, it puts you in contact with people from different walks of life thus expanding your worldview. Also sometimes, we need a perspective other than our own to solve sometimes insolvable problems, thus potentially helping with stress and anxiety. All the more reason to not give up on working out because you find it boring.
It is not the workout, but it is simply that your personality and demeanor are suited for other modes. Find those ways and stick to it.
You don't know why you are working out - This I believe is the biggest contributor to why people get off the gym train. Yes losing weight, and gaining a ton of muscles is a great goal but it is not something that you can achieve in a short term. Thus causing our instant gratification seeking brain to convince us that this particular activity is futile, leading to diminished enthusiasm, less effort, less results, and the vicious cycle overpowers the motivation that you took from the YT video that you watched before coming to the gym and you quit.
Here's an alternative, set performance and process goals. It is common observation that performance improves way faster than the body composition. Thus giving yourself short performance goals will provide certain structure and direction to organize your workouts. Making you more comfortable at gym knowing what you are going to do.
The paragraph above introduces a common way people stop seeing results in the gym and lose motivation. Having no structure to your workout. Having no structure to the workout makes it harder for you to track and improve your effort thereby robbing you of results.
Having a structure provides simple process goals that needs to be achieved in order to achieve your performance goals. Seeing positive change is the motivation that will keep you in the gym for longer and thereby give you the results that you seek, i.e., lower body fat, and more muscle mass.
Your goals can be unrelated to lifting itself, but lifting weights will improve your performance in activity you chose. Some non-lifting related performance goals that are made better by strength training are
Long distance run time
Cycling speed and time
Change of direction abilities
Swimming stroke power, and speed.
In short, do not stop training because you don't see a movement on the scale. Set small performance goals and smash those, rinse, repeat.
In conclusion, I urge everyone to take a deep hard look at why they feel that they have to quit. The best results only show when you do the work for a long time, and the results stick only when you have learnt and imbibed the lessons that you took to get there. Achieving a body by hacks is not sustainable. No pills, no belts, no waist trainers will give you the results unless you build the habits that allow you to keep that body.