Think back to May. Remember when outdoor jogs, beach or poolside yoga and hilly hikes had you raring to get moving? With full-fledged fall looming close, we asked Cat Smiley, author of The Planet Friendly Diet and owner of Whistler Fitness Vacations, a weight loss retreat in B.C., Canada and Stacy Schwartz, Co-Founder and CEO of Ketanga Fitness Retreats how not to plateau with your workout routines and for innovative tweaks to keep them fresh and exciting as fall approaches. You might be tossing aside those Speedo goggles for laps in the outdoor pool, but time to lace up those sneaks, folks.
1. Reset your attitude
With fall’s arrival, it’s normal to hit a workout slump. But before you launch into a series of excuses for skipping a sweat session, “remember why you started [and] change your attitude about fitness – and remind yourself that exercise is not a punishment or a painful way to spend your precious spare time,” offers Smiley. “Breathe and enjoy: think about working out as an opportunity to unwind from a hectic day, release some endorphins and improve your quality of life,” Smiley adds.
2. Think outside the gym
We know fall might have you thinking “peace out, boardwalk runs and lake swims,” but all it takes is a little creativity and you can dive into, and even get excited about, many calorie-torching activities that don’t involve a treadmill. “Think about ways to stay active in the fall before the winter blues keep you locked up in the gym. Go apple picking, sign up for a turkey trot, plan a trip with friends to go hiking to see fall foliage — all active things you can do outside as the weather begins to change,” suggests Schwartz.
3. Sign up for some events
Now’s the time to plan ahead: “Put something on the calendar to work towards or look forward to. Whether a race, a fitness retreat, or some combination of the two (like Ketanga Fitness Retreats’ Cuba trip in November that incorporates the Havana Marathon, Half, and 10K!), having something active to plan for will help keep you on track,” says Schwartz.
Check local listings for upcoming fitness events and races (color fun run, we’re looking at you). And be sure to check in with your local yoga or runner’s store; many offer free or discounted classes or group runs. And be sure to avoid vague goals, which leave more wiggle room for letting laziness kick in.
The more you can zoom in on achieving a fitness objective, the better: “Give yourself a deadline to achieve a specific goal, for example, you need to be able to run around the lake in under 12 minutes before October 31st in order to finish your boot camp training and start cross fit, for example. Finish what you start. Don’t jump to another workout routine until you’ve achieved the targets you have set for this one,” explains Smiley.
4. Mix it up
Workout fatigue got you down? “Change your work out structure every couple of weeks to give your muscles new stimulus, maintain variety and keep workouts challenging with changed set, repetition, and exercise order. Hire a trainer for a few sessions to keep your workouts fresh, or educate yourself with fitness magazines and books with new workout ideas. Hire your kid as your trainer! Once I grabbed a 10 year old neighbor who was always shooting hoops at the school where I was trying to motivate myself to do sprint training. I asked his Mom first, but essentially the deal was that I’d give him $1 per sprint I did. All he had to do was make me do it. His Mom agreed, and whenever I’d slack off or make excuses he’d come find me at my house and said ‘you said you would be here doing sprints!’ and so I’d feel ethically obliged to do what I told this kid I would do….sprints. Got into the shape of my life that summer!” offers Smiley.
5. Treat yourself to some new workout gear
Getting some new, warmer workout clothes might not seem like a big deal, but the simple act of doing so can change your outlook about working out, knowing you’ve got something you can feel comfortable in to wear. “I’ll admit it, I’ve been guilty of skipping a workout because all my appropriate gym clothes were in the laundry. So this year, as the seasons change I plan to go shopping for a cute hoodie or long sleeve shirt that I can throw on on top of my tank top for style and warmth for autumn jogs or walks to the gym. Thumb holes are a must!” advises Schwartz.
6. Just carve out the time!
“…cups of tea, books to read, phone call with a friend, early night, hot shower…these things are no different than allowing yourself to take a moment to yourself to workout,” states Smiley. Between full-time jobs and family obligations, it’s easy to let your fitness take a back burner. But re-frame workout time positively and view it as an opportunity to be present and treat yourself to something beneficial. “Embrace it and give it to yourself, reset your perception of what that moment is about. You cant give if you don’t take! So take that time and maximize it,” advises Smiley.
7. And go ahead, give yourself a pat on the shoulders
“Look back at your journey with pride, and look forward at the road ahead with strength. Don’t feel overwhelmed! If you’ve been working out for a while, you’ll know how to confidently order food in restaurants and customize your food group targets. You will know how you can source these daily targets and experience optimal energy for your workouts, and optimal results in your slim down. All these things that you ‘know’ will come back to you once you decide, commit and just do it!” encourages Smiley.
Pick a mantra you love and tack it you refrigerator, or when you”re mid-run or iron pumping and feel like giving up, simply repeat, “Most people are quitters. I am not a quitter.” (That one isn’t fitness guru approved, but those nine words have helped me tackle the most grueling of workouts.)