I’m a Navy brat. I grew up in the military, and we moved around a good bit. Changed countries and homes and schools. I have a built-in internal clock that looks for change every few years. And I find it. I always find it. The need for constant change has dictated my career choices, home décor, and now it rules my body maintenance efforts. I’m always on to the next thing.
Many of us have no problem starting a new fitness or diet kick. A new class, a new way of eating, a new horizon, a new challenge, a deadline, a date, an event to work toward. These give us focus, energy. But then comes the day when the thrill is gone, and we slip back into our old habits, losing the momentum, regaining the lost fat. And then we kick ourselves in the shins. What happened? Why can’t we stick to a fitness plan? Why are we such losers?
We’re not losers. We just get bored.
For some of us, making fitness a healthy diet part of our regular day is awfully hard. But getting us to start something new is no problem at all. We’re samplers. We’re curious. We like the new. The new is exciting, interesting, it stretches our brains, it makes us think, it prevents boredom. The learning curve is cool. We love to learn. So when a diet or exercise program becomes familiar, it begins to die for us. We want the next thing.
But this start-again, stop-again stuff with our bodies can play havoc with our metabolisms, with our sleep schedules and self-image. What to do?
Here’s a thought: How about embracing starting-something as your particular fitness habit? That is, pay attention to your cycles of interest and boredom. Do they last two weeks, two months, two years? How long before you’re bored and need to move on? Then plan for it. If you know you’re going to last in this Pilates class for three months before you need to move on to the next thing, then make sure after two months you begin to look into scheduling that next spinning class, or yoga class, or belly dancing class. If you know that you must make seasonal shifts, then look forward to them, and get that new pair of spring running shoes — now. Download the training sheets for the spring road races, sign up for those walk-a-thons.
Hey, the secret’s been out for some time now: all of those diets work. So consider shifting from diet to diet to keep yourself from getting bored with them. Change your focus from counting calories to counting nutrients, from counting carbs to counting fat if you like. You can always change back again. Try different counting tools. Keep a journal online, on paper. Make up your own serving counting system. Try Somercizing, Body for Life, WeightWatchers, eDiets. Plan to start something new every few months. It’s not like changing religions, folks, it’s just a new set of rules for mindful eating.
Plan to work with your natural-born curiosity, eliminate the gaps between your efforts, and your body will thank you, you’ll learn how your body responds to different kinds of food and work, and you know how you love to learn.