PUSHING THROUGH YOUR FITNESS FUNK
Attitude, Patience, Consistency, Forming Fitness Habits
It’s raining, it's snowing, it's too hot, you’ve had a crazy week, you're stressed out and the funk begins to settle in. You’ve been working out regularly, but then suddenly you feel a bit overwhelmed, your motivation lessens, and it becomes harder and harder to convince yourself to get active. Sometimes you lose this mental battle. You cave in and skip a workout. Somewhere your fitness habit went awry. Here are some tips to help you get those endorphins kicking, and restore your motivation and consistency.
WHAT’S THE “FUNK” AND TIPS TO SHAKE IT
Merriam Webster defines a funk as “a slump,” or to shrink back from an undertaking. In fitness, people often describe it as feeling blah, just going through the motions, being in a rut, or being “off” for a while (a day, a few days, a week). When you’re in a funk, you don’t feel like yourself. You might not know what you feel like, but you don’t feel happy, energetic, grateful, positive, like a superhero—or even like a regular person. It’s normal to experience ebbs and flows in your fitness journey from high-energy to a “funk.” Everyone experiences a funk from time to time. In general, these periods are short-lived, lasting anywhere from a day to about a week.
The next time you feel like you’re in a funk, try these tips to shake it and get back to reaping the benefits of exercise and healthy fitness habits, and feel like yourself again!
- Get Enough Sleep: According to the CDC adults should get seven or more hours of sleep each night for proper health and well-being.
- Eat the Right Foods: According to researchers at Harvard, diets can have an impact on mood. Diets high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, with only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy can have a positive impact. Good nutrition is essential for optimal brain and body functioning. While sugar laden, processed and fast foods can cause inflammation and negatively impact your energy levels and mood.
- Address Your Stress: Give yourself a break and take time to do things you enjoy. Consider mediation. Research shows it can provide numerous health and mental wellness benefits to help you get past your funk.
- Mix Up Your Exercise Approach: One of the main reasons people get into a fitness funk is getting bored with their routines without realizing it! You can avoid boredom by switching up your routines and gradually making them more challenging over time. There are so many ways to move, calisthenics, Pilates, yoga, weightlifting, and HIIT workout, to name a few. There are countless methods and modalities for you to try. Make it fun, mix it up; the key is to get moving, and changing things up forces you to be more aware and pay attention which heightens your awareness.
FORM HABITS TO AVOID THE FUNK AND STAY ON TRACK
Exercising gets easier when it becomes a habit. Think of it like brushing your teeth; you make it a routine to brush them in the morning and before going to sleep at night. So rising or going to bed is your cue to brush your teeth automatically. Try applying the same principle to exercise. So instead of saying to yourself, “I’m going to work out,” try to find cues that automatically trigger this behavior in your daily life. Cues will help you to establish a routine without putting much thought into it. When you don’t put a lot of thought into something, you're less likely to find excuses for not doing it!
Rick Hoyle, a professor for psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, explained a formula called "habit stacking" to make new routines stick. Habit stacking is the process of establishing a small goal and then pairing a new habit to an existing one and continuing to build on it. He finds that by setting a tiny goal and breaking it down into small objectives that you can modify over time, it's easier for you to find the motivation to perform a habit-forming task.
“You want to build up the habit of doing the activity,” Hoyle says. You could start a new fitness habit by working out every Friday. As you establish a routine of exercising once a week, you add a second day and then a third. “Stacking” or adding a new habit to an existing routine sets up an automatic prompt to proceed with the new habit because your brain has an established pattern from which to build the new routine.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to form a new fitness habit:
- Start with an incredibly small habit. Make it so easy you can’t say no. Your new habit should be easy enough that you need very little motivation to do it. Don’t start out trying to do 50 push-ups per day; start with 5 or 10 push-ups per day and work your way up to 50. When you make it easy enough to get it done without motivation, you’ll be more likely to establish a routine and stick to it.
- Increase your habit in very small ways. Success will come from starting small and building on gradually. Success breeds more success, so your willpower and motivation build along the way. Essentially, it’s like creating muscle memory; it becomes easier to stick to your habit with each step.
- As you build up, break habits into chunks. If you continue adding on, for example, increasing 1 percent each day or breaking 50 push-ups into 5 sets of 10, you’ll see the impact and progress more quickly. One of the keys to your success in building up a habit is to be reasonable. When you break a habit or goal into chunks and gradually build it up over time, you establish a rhythm and momentum. Small reasonable steps will lead to positive long-term gains.
- If you slip, get back on track quickly. Everyone makes mistakes, but research shows that missing your habit once will have no measurable impact on your long-term progress. Even top athletes make mistakes; what separates them from the rest is their ability to recover from their errors and get back on track quickly. So abandon the perfectionist mindset, strive for perfection but be prepared to recover. While no one expects to fail, you are more likely to succeed if you invest a little time considering the obstacles you might run into and develop a plan for how you will face and overcome them.
- Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain. According to the Merriam-Webster, dictionary patience is “the ability to give attention to something for a long time without becoming bored or losing interest.” So it should be evident that patience is one of the most critical elements of success in establishing a new fitness habit. You will find that consistency and patience will beat the perfectionist mindset every time.
Remember, movement trumps motivation. In fact, studies prove that when people start with movement, they build motivation. But, when you try to start with motivation, you are immediately at odds with the habit you are trying to create. So get moving!
How do you get out of a “funk”? Share your tips with the TriadXP community in the comment section below.
Resources / References for this post
ChoosingTherapy.com. (2021, July 7). How to Get Out of a Funk: 13 Tips for Success. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/get-out-of-a-funk/
(2016, August 7). 5 Tips to get out of a workout funk. FITGIRLCODE. https://fitgirlcode.com/5-tips-to-get-out-of-a-work-out-funk/
Black, J. (2021, March 2). How to Start a New Healthy Habit. Duke Today. https://today.duke.edu/2021/03/how-start-new-healthy-habit
Clear, J. (2020, February 4). How to Build New Habits: This is Your Strategy Guide. James Clear. https://jamesclear.com/habit-guide