Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Four Stages of Exercise Burnout

I recently read an article in "Women's Health" magazine that I found to be quite interesting. It discussed the four stages that lead to exercise burnout. This, I'm almost hesitant to admit, is my 3rd attempt towards a permanent healthy lifestyle change. What I found interesting about this article was that it described exactly what I've experienced that lead to my inability to stick to the goals I've set out to accomplish during my last two attempts. Recognizing the signs and preventing burnout will help you meet your exercise goals and remain motivated.

The four stages of exercise burnout are:

Stage 1 - The Honeymoon

Classic sign: You are rearing to go and you're determined to lose 20 lbs in 3 to 6 months. You set goals to work out at least 5 days a week and you have not missed any workout.

Burnout buster: When expecting too much early on, you start to burn out sooner as well. It's important to look at the big picture and set realistic work out goals that can be built up with time rather than over doing it from the start. Start slow, maybe walking for 30 minutes three times a week, and increase the distance and time each week. From there, you may add a low impact aerobic workout then add strength training as you progress.

Stage 2 - Disenchantment

Classic sign: When you don't see results immediately, your enthusiasm starts to wane and you begin to miss workouts or become less motivated to head to the gym.

Burnout buster: One of the major reasons that you start to feel less motivated and enthusiastic about working out is that you've set goals that may be difficult to accomplish. Setting smaller goals or short term goals that focus more on the process rather the end goal will help you to succeed and increase your confidence. For example, find an exercise regimen that will help increase your stamina or to maintain your energy, focus on aerobic exercises for their cardiac benefits, or concentrate on building muscle through strength training. As you meet each short term goal, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and the enthusiasm to tackle the next goal.

Stage 3 - Stalling

Classic sign: As boredom and apathy sets in, you are less committed to the process and begin to lose sight of your goals. You begin making excuses to not work out - your job, family, the weather, etc.

Burnout buster: To conquer boredom, change things up. Find different ways to fuel your interest again; start a different workout regimen, take a different aerobic class, or workout with different equipments. Changing your routine will help you meet new goals that will make exercising fun or challenging again.

Stage 4 - Frustration and Surrender

Classic sign: Exercising is no longer at the top of your priorities and you eventually give up and stop exercising all together

Burnout buster: Make a commitment to stick to a schedule for at least 5 weeks. According to a study by Health Psychology, it takes at least 5 weeks to make a session a habit. Let your friends or family know what your goals are and what you wish to accomplish or find a support group that will help motivate you to stick to a schedule or exercise regimen.

Have you experienced these stages of exercise burnout in your attempt to lose weight or incorporate exercise into your lifestyle? Hopefully, this article will help you recognize what stage you're in and find a fix so you don't end up at stage 4.

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