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How to ward off boredom?

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  • How to ward off boredom?

    My typical pattern: I decide I want to get more active and fit, find some sort of activity that will help me meet my goals, and jump into it with gusto. Things go great for a while, and I pat myself on the back for getting better/stronger/faster. Then something happens: I lose interest. Sometimes it happens gradually, and I keep grinding on with the routine for a few weeks, disliking it more with each passing workout. Other times it happens abruptly and I just decide that I am not going to pursue this regimen any longer.

    I can probably think of a half dozen times over the past ten years when I started and quit an exercise regimen because I just got sick of it after a while. I'll take a WAG that these stints last about 6 weeks on average.

    About a year ago (when I discovered the PB) I became interested in fitness again. Bought myself a pullup bar, and over the next 9 months or so I engaged in sporadic bursts of bodyweight exercises -- enough to go from 5 to about 15 pullups. Nothing really structured though, just ad hoc sets of pullups and pushups using different grips.

    At the start of the new year I decided to try a structured approach once again, this time with the Primal Blueprint Fitness program. I stuck with that faithfully for about 6 weeks, and then once again found myself bored. At least this time I didn't fall off the wagon completely. I transitioned to SimpleFit instead, which I found to be an awesome change of pace...for about 4 weeks. Then BOOM! -- boredom again. That brings us to today, when I decided to start over on SimpleFit, but this time using a weighted backpack to make it a little more strength-focused. I can almost guarantee that in another 4 weeks I'll be bored with that and looking for something else to do.

    I'm guessing I'm not the only one with this issue. What's the best way to deal with it? I'm sure I could probably suck it up and just grind on through. But I want to enjoy working out. Maybe there's actually nothing wrong with my current approach: do something for a while, and when it starts to get stale, find something more interesting to do.

    Thoughts or suggestions?

  • #2
    What works for me is to get exercise buddies. It turns workouts into social time. For example my brother and I almost always do sprints and strength sessions together, I meet a friend for weekly hikes, and I swim with a whole group of buddies. I've been following primal fitness since November and am enjoying being active but not burned out. Also if I don't want to workout I simply won't I realized awhile ago forcing myself to follow a plan didn't work. I'm not regimented in my plan its more of a "I feel energetic so I'll do some pushups or hike type of thing." Also try mixing up the types of exercise you do. I haven't attempted a WOW yet, but some of them sound pretty fun. I'd much rather be doing "spear thrusts" than a simple workout. WOW: The Phalanx | Mark's Daily Apple
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    • #3
      I totally agree. Not only is varying workouts more interesting but also basic to the PB way. If you're bored or hating doing serious training, just go do fun things like playing tennis or something. If you don't quite feel like doing much for even days on end, don't bother. I've been trying to just follow what my body feels like, vary what kind of stuff I'm doing (sprinting, weight lifting, stuff only with my body weight, playing, group activities, out door stuff), and not be very regimented. This has proven very successful for me. I think the most important thing is sustainability. What I'm doing now isn't super intense, but it's sustainable. I think that's most important.

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      • #4
        it is really hard to train without a goal IMO. find a race or a weightlifting meet or a pants size or a skill or something that you want to work toward. more than one goal is even better.

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        • #5
          My yoga teacher says, "If you're bored, you're not paying enough attention."

          iPod?

          One of the things that keeps me going is I hate losing progress. I lost so much muscle mass after my daughter was born and I'm trying to gain it back. And of course I have a knee injury right now...Grr...But find something your body really likes and maybe that will motivate you to stick with it.

          And yeah, vary it up. I don't subscribe to any one thing. I do yoga, swim, hike, run, mountain bike, x-c ski, circuit train, often some mixture of 3-4 of these a week. Best of luck!
          The Paleo Periodical
          It's not a Diet. It's a lifestyle.

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          • #6
            Why should you be entertained by your workout? Your problem is entirely perceptual

            Its easy for me for two reasons. The workouts I'm doing and have been doing for months are still taxing me and there's always room to improve. And I know it is part of a healthy lifestyle that I believe to be essential to regaining my health
            Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

            Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

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            • #7
              Have you ever tried martial arts? There are a billion techniques you could practice, and nothing is more fulfilling than noticing your more proficient in bodily movements. Martial arts isn't necessarily about fighting but learning control over mind and body.
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              The Enlightened Warrior

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              • #8
                Competition keeps me motivated. I play basketball with my friends, play golf, practice jiu jitsu, run/sprint. My friends are all pretty hardcore about their workout and diet as well and it keeps me in check.

                When my friends get faster, stronger, jump higher, hit the ball further it motivates me to exercise more to keep up and beat them.
                "If man made it, don't eat it" - Jack Lallane

                People say I am on a "crazy" diet. What is so crazy about eating veggies, fruits, seafood and organ meats? Just because I don't eat whole wheat and processed food doesn't make my diet "crazy". Maybe everyone else with a SAD are the "crazy" ones for putting that junk in their system.

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                • #9
                  Some people lack the motivation to train on their own and only thrive in a competitive environment - either a training partner or some form of direct competition. Maby that's what you need to get on track.
                  Sounds like you're just grabbing at whatever comes down the pipeline program wise, what are you trying to achieve?
                  If you cant answer that, you might as well stop wasting your time and breath.

                  Training isn't always enjoyable, sometimes it's tough, uncomfortable and painful. It has to be something deeper driving you forward than just enjoyment.
                  I'm not really one for setting goals, but at the start of last year I set myself the task of bringing mt squat up to 120kg for reps and my dead lift up to 160kg by Christmas. Despite having a newborn and shifting house, I achieved both.
                  No cheer squad there to hoot, holler and slap me on the back - just me alone in the garage ticking off a couple of numbers on a word spreadsheet and smiling to myself.
                  This year I hope to crack 140 and 180 respectively, maby, maby not - but it's irrelevant cos I love training.

                  All you need is love.
                  Really..

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                  • #10
                    Mastery is the greatest goal you can achieve; it comes through consistent repetition of fundamentals. You need to get good at practicing the basics and learn to enjoy seeing improvement.
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                    • #11
                      Maybe you should look into Periodization.
                      Its an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time. It is a way of alternating training to its peak during season
                      Just as your about to get bored you switch it up, make the training something new to keep you focused.
                      My paleo food photos

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by peril View Post
                        Why should you be entertained by your workout? Your problem is entirely perceptual...
                        I would tend to agree with this. Do you get bored brushing your teeth and taking showers? Do you get bored sleeping at night? Of course not, these are habits and you just do them. I hate to go all Nike on you, but just do it already.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for all the feedback! Lots of good suggestions.

                          I agree with those who suggested that workouts would be more enjoyable in a social or competitive context. I wish that would fit better with my lifestyle right now. I work full-time during the day, cook dinner for my family after work, and watch my two young children in the evenings until they're in bed. Weekends are typically filled with child-rearing, food preparation, and house/yard/garden work. I also live in a rural area with few friends nearby. The one thing I found that fits comfortably into my schedule is a quick/intense bodyweight routine. No need for a bunch of equipment, no wasted time driving to/from a gym, and it can be done in 15 minutes or less at a time -- early in the morning, at lunch, or after the kids are in bed.

                          @Melody - good point about goals. I had a goal of doing 10 pullups, which is probably the main reason why I kept at my bodyweight work for most of last year. When I reached that goal though, it felt a little anticlimactic. I set a new goal of 20 pullups, but my heart wasn't in it. Things I actually want: to be able to do 10 unassisted handstand pushups, pistol squats (10?), and gain ~ 10 lbs of muscle. I guess my goals just need to have a 10 in them, or else I lose interest.

                          @Fauxbourdon3 - variety and (hence, for me) sustainability are key features that I seek. It may be that I just require more variety than what I've dabbled in so far.

                          @jon tall tree - I'd love to learn a martial art. Not a whole lot of classes out here in the sticks though. :\

                          @Coach Palfrey - I do enjoy seeing improvement. It's nice to see my reps tick up over time, and I actually have a pretty detailed log going back over the past year. At first it's exciting to see improvement, but then I experience diminishing returns in excitement after I've reached a certain level of proficiency. Perhaps my problem is that I'm satisfied with proficiency rather than mastery? Mastery seems to take a tremendous amount of time and energy (physical and mental), and maybe it's more satisfying for me to just become proficient in many things rather than a master of a few.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gunn parker View Post
                            Maybe you should look into Periodization.

                            Just as your about to get bored you switch it up, make the training something new to keep you focused.
                            I'll have to read up on periodization, but switching things up when I start to get bored is something I'm getting pretty good at.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by peril
                              Why should you be entertained by your workout? Your problem is entirely perceptual..
                              Originally posted by DianeThePurple View Post
                              I would tend to agree with this. Do you get bored brushing your teeth and taking showers? Do you get bored sleeping at night? Of course not, these are habits and you just do them. I hate to go all Nike on you, but just do it already.
                              Ah, the "swallow yer medicine -- it's good for you!" angle. Yes, I see where you guys are coming from with that, but it's about 180 degrees away from my life philosophy. That is to say, I tend to de-emphasize those activities in my life that I do not enjoy; or if they are practically unavoidable, I at least try to make them more enjoyable. I don't know about you, but I try to enjoy life as much I can.

                              Do you enjoy eating food? Or do you just eat it out of habit because you know you need the nourishment?

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