One day when I was a teenager, my father gave me a ride to my summer job as a lifeguard. We were sitting in the car staring at the beige dashboard and I had just taken a break from switching the radio station a thousand times and driving him totally crazy. I was complaining about a problem I had (probably an issue with a boy) and he told me something that has stuck with me ever since.
“You know one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I had never heard that before. I think Oprah would call it an, “Aha moment.”
To me, this expression seems particularly true when it comes to health and fitness. How often have you slogged along on the treadmill, completing the exact same distance at the same speed with the same incline week after week and expected your body to respond differently? How often have you stuck to the same exercise class, used the same weight dumbells for months or years, and turned your nose up at the thought of trying something else?
I’m 100% guilty of this. B.B. (that’s Before Barre) I would often do the same 5 mile run or the equivalent on the elliptical 5x a week, 52 weeks a year. I never did any strength training, and while I would sometimes run outside instead of inside, I was totally fine with my workout rut. I didn’t lose weight, but I didn’t gain weight either. I was comfortable. I didn’t love the 5-mile workouts, but I knew I could handle them and afterward I could go about my business feeling good about accomplishing something positive.
That said, I was doing my body a disservice. I was stressing the same joints time and time again and I wasn’t doing a thing to improve my strength or fitness. Working out was never awful, but it was never fun either. There were so many other things that I was missing out on! Of course that’s not to say that I magically changed the course of my life and that I no longer repeat stupid of imperfect behavior anymore. That’s because I’m lazy, routines are comforting, and sometimes I’m OK with not seeing different results as long as I get to eat the cupcake/fit in my jeans/afford to buy shoes.
I think the entire insanity philosophy extends far beyond workouts. We treat our spouses the same way day in and out, and then are disappointed when they never bring us flowers, surprise us with dinner, or whisk us away on a fun vacation. We complain endlessly about our jobs, but refuse to do anything to change the situation. We drive home from work the same way each day and then feel surprised and frustrated when we get stuck in the exact same traffic. We miss nap time and then get angry with our children when they have a meltdown in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store. We get back together with the guy who never really appreciated us, and then feel hurt when he doesn’t want to update his relationship status on Facebook.
While I have absolutely no advice on fixing your career, relationship, traffic, or children's meltdowns, I have been thinking about finding ways to mix up my workout. Some I've tried, some I haven't, but I think any of them would be a great start for busting out of a rut!
Barre Amped (Tried, Love)
Rock Climbing (Tried, Enjoyed, Inconvenient)
Crossfit (Want to Try, Kind of Scared)
P90x (Want to Try, Kind of Scared)
TRX (Tried, Liked)
Crew (Tried, Liked, Sucked at)
Yoga (Tried, Love, Hands Slide Out of Downward Dog)
Pilates (Tried, OK)
On Demand Workout (Tried, Way Harder Than Expected)
Zumba (Want to Try, Kind of Scared)
Spinning (Want to Try, Kind of Scared)
Circuit Training (Tried, Great Challenge)
Body Combat (Tried, OK)
Kickboxing (Tried, Loved, Couldn't Lift My Arms for Days)
Marathon Training (Tried, Love, Couldn't Walk Down Steps for Days)
Hiking (Love, Not Enough Daylight, Need a Buddy)
Tennis Lessons (Tried, I'm Awful, Really Fun)
Golf Lessons (Tried, I'm Really Awful, Cute Teacher)
Swimming (Tried, Enjoy, Inconvenient)
Step Aerobics (Tried, Was Embarrassed by Older Women)
Softball (Tried, Enjoy, Need a Team to Play)
Kettlebells (Tried a Little, Kind of Scared)
Ice Skating (Fun, I Stink, Inconvenient)
Did I miss anything?