Written By Lara Gillease
I hear this from clients regularly: “I just started doing this new workout routine and I am finally going to get in shape.”
I see the dreamy look in their eyes as though they have found the perfect exercise routine that will help them achieve what they always knew was possible for them.
Have you ever done this? Found and started doing a workout that you feel good doing, feel great afterward and can tell you are reaping big benefits?
Ah, you finally found it! The exercise routine of your dreams. You’re going to finally achieve the strength, flexibility, range of motion, great posture, and the toned, svelte look you always dreamed of. You always knew this was possible. And now you know what to do.
So every day for 30 minutes, you are going to repeat this very routine. And make your fitness dreams a reality.
Maybe you set your alarm for 5 am to make sure you do it first thing or maybe you do it after work.
And you stick with it. But after a few weeks, instead of feeling exhilarated and like you are very close to realizing your goal, you are feeling so bored that you don’t know how much longer you can take it.
You also don’t even feel like you are getting much benefit anymore. And you are starting to dread doing it.
Do you wonder what happened to those feel-good sensations and post workout benefits that you had initially?
Your expectations are just not getting met anymore. It worked so great initially, why not now?
Guess what? There’s a reason. And it has to do with your brain and habits and learning.
You see, once you (and your brain) gets used to doing something a certain way, it becomes a habit. Meaning you have memorized the way you do it.
So you are now doing your memorization of the exercise.
This means that you are not available (and your brain’s not available) to be present to the YOU NOW.
What’s so bad about that?
Well, it’s really the novelty, the newness and the freshness that creates the next level of fitness — for your body and, you guessed it — for your brain.
Once you get used to it, this means your brain is also used to it. And your muscles are used to it. Then your improvement plateaus.
You have basically squeezed every last drop of improvement that you could get out of that routine. And guess what?
That routine of your dreams can’t take you to the next level.
You see, the mistake you are making is in assuming it is THE routine — the exact moves or exercises — and maybe even the order you are doing them in — that is giving you the benefits and feel-good sensations.
But really, it was the newness of it.
The newness of the routine called upon you and actually demanded from you, to move in a way you hadn’t moved recently or possibly ever. So initially your muscles were able to get stronger, your range of motion and flexibility were able to improve. But that stopped when it was no longer new for you.
Also, when something is new and different, we are interested in it. And we are more likely to notice and pay attention to our experience while we are doing it. This means your brain is actively involved. (In neuroscience terms, your brain is making new connections.)
So how can you stop plateauing and instead, continually increase and improve your fitness level?
- Vary* your exercises. Not only which exercises you do, but also HOW you do them.
- Variety is the spice of life and the spice of being fit.
- Or try doing a whole new routine (but don’t let it become routine). Keep it fresh and alive with variations or different exercises each time.
It is so much easier if you have a “recipe” for your workout. And at first, that’s great.
But then change the recipe up. Or do a whole new routine. Or cross-train (which means to do a completely different modality of exercise).
These ways are much more likely to enable you to achieve your fitness goals.
*Variation is one of Anat Baniel Method’s Nine Essentials for Learning.
Want an exercise that de-stresses your back? You can even do it first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed. Go to integrativemovement.com to download a free, easy-to-follow-along video.
Lara Gillease, President & Founder of Lara’s Integrative Movement since 2000, teaches adults and children new ways of learning and how to move with greater ease and freedom while relieving tension and stress in one-on-one sessions. She also offers an online, self-study movement program, Move Free. Additionally, she is one of Anat Baniel’s Trainers for teaching and certifying new Anat Baniel Method NeuroMovement Teachers and does one-on-one sessions at the Anat Baniel Method World Headquarters alongside Anat Baniel and team.
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