How can I avoid burnout in the New Year when motivation to meet my resolutions wanes?

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How can I avoid burnout in the New Year when motivation to meet my resolutions wanes?

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Does this sound like you? As you started to get dressed to head to the gym this morning, you found yourself spending more time organizing your gym clothes rather than actually putting them on. Then, instead of mixing your protein shake in your typical “automatic” way, you began surfing the web for new shake recipes and didn’t ever get to prepare one. When your cell phone rang and your workout partner was calling to see why you weren’t in the gym, you came up with some lame excuse and skipped the workout altogether.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if your motivation for exercise has evaporated: Do you…

  • Feel more irritable after you exercise?
  • Feel exhausted physically, emotionally and mentally?
  • Feel so fatigued that you can’t get out of bed?
  • Experience more muscle spasms, soreness and leg cramps?
  • Feel unable to relax or unwind?
  • Arrive to your training sessions late a bit too often?
  • Find self-doubt and questions about the worth of exercise creeping in?
  • Feel like you are having too many “bad” days?
  • Experience boredom with your exercise “routine?”

If you answered yes to more than one of these, you could be experiencing burnout.

Burnout is fairly common and dates back to 1976 when the term was first coined and don’t worry, it’s not a disgrace.

Frequently, it’s tied to having great intentions, unrealistic expectations and overly rigid, perfectionistic self-demands.

When you exercise far beyond your body’s abilities to recuperate, you enter the “overtraining zone” and that is often physically and emotionally harmful.

Fortunately though, there’s a lot you can do to stop burnout before it becomes too widespread in your life. Listening to your heart, mind and body will set you in the right direction.

Here are 6 tips to get you past burnout and start to reenergize, refuel and reset your health:

  1. Begin your day with a relaxing meditation — make it brief and create a SMART daily goal — one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Visualize yourself — really “see” yourself — in a more positive and enjoyable exercise routine.
  2. Change your thinking about what you erroneously believe you “must” do to what you’d more accurately “prefer” to do.
  3. Set firm and clear boundaries on your time. It’s ok to say, “no.” Work time is for “them” and private time is for “you” and fill the “you” time with quality enjoyment.
  4. Slow down, take a break from working out and change up your exercise routine — add a new approach to the exercises you do, add new music to listen to on your iPod, exercise in a different gym, find a new workout partner, or try another fitness coach. Do it! It’s your life and only you know what you really want and need in order to recharge yourself.
  5. Ask for support from others, create new motivators, reset your priorities, take control of your time, focus on what’s NOT wrong and what can go right with your workouts. And, find alternative ways of thinking about exercising that are less demanding, more positive and lead to a healthier approach to working out. Mental and physical exhaustion, and burnout are different, and each needs its own responses.
  6. Add PERMA to your life:
    • Positive emotions
    • Engaged activities
    • Enjoyable Relationships
    • Find Meaning in what you do
    • Take pride in your Accomplishments

These six steps are not meant to be a complete list, but they do touch on all of the key points that are meant to restore you to health, happiness and wellbeing — free of exercise burnout. Give them a chance, expand on them and return to the preferred you.

Michael MantellMichael Mantell Contributor

Michael Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, here he wrote his thesis on obesity. He’s served as the Chief Psychologist of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and the Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He provides breakthrough strategies to help business leaders, athletes, individuals and families create healthy, fit and happy trajectories in life. He is the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for ACE, an international behavior science fitness presenter, an Advisor to numerous companies and fitness organizations, on the Sports Medicine team of The Sporting Club of San Diego and is featured in many international media outlets. He is listed in the 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”

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