Out of a Rut and Into a Routine

Thinking about getting out of a rut and into a routine reminds me of winters in Chicago. I lived in the city most of my life.  Keeping the city streets snow plowed was not an easy task! It didn’t take much to get your car stuck in snow. Fortunately, friends and neighbors were nearby to help push each other out when stuck in a rut.

Getting out of a rut required a lot of patience and perseverance.  Frustration and impatience only made the situation worse.  In order to get traction, you had to start slowly.  Once you had some movement, more pressure could by added slowly to gain momentum.  Support from behind gave enough push to get you out.

When it comes to fitness, getting out of a rut and into a routine requires a similar approach. Often people remain in a fitness rut because they want to “put the pedal to the metal” and move too fast.  Within a week or two, they realize they can’t keep up and give up on their plan all together.  A successful fitness plan is based on pace, patience, and perseverance.

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fitness word cloudIn the first of a five week series called My Total Fitness Plan, I am focusing on physical fitness.  This is an area of fitness most of us know something about. Whether it pertains to nutrition or exercise, more people are becoming interested in improving their health through fitness. Perhaps you have a plan in place already. Good for you! If not, this blog will help you get started. You can get out of a rut and into a routine of physical fitness by following 5 simple steps.


Step 1: Start with an activity that’s simple and achievable

Think pace and patience.  You cannot climb Kilimanjaro tomorrow if you haven’t climbed out of bed today!  People set themselves up for disappointment and failure when they select one or more activities that are difficult to incorporate into a busy schedule.  Wishful thinking does not equate to routine activity.

The key is to start with an activity that is simple and achievable. Here are a few examples of simple and achievable activities.

  1. Going for a walk around the block.
  2. Doing pushups or sit-ups at home.
  3. Walking on a treadmill.
  4. Riding a bike.
  5. Swimming.

Thinking simple gives you traction. Achieving success in the simple plan establishes routine. You can always add other activities to add momentum to your physical fitness plan.

Step 2: Set realistic goals

Setting unrealistic goals is where many people fall into a rut. Why? We have a tendency to “bite off more than we can choose” when it comes to exercise. People get amped up and set goals when their emotions are high. This rarely works.

A more effective means is to set realistic goals that offer a high degree of probability for success. If you haven’t been to the health club in years, do not begin with a 5-7 day a week goal for working out. Begin with one or two days. Something you know is realistic and achievable. You can always add numbers after you get some traction.  Remember pace and patience!

Step 3: Choose a time of day that works

A common lament I hear from people I coach is not having enough time to get to engage in physical fitness. Time and energy are the two most valuable commodities people possess. For many, a typical day starts early and ends late.

Once you decide physical fitness is a non-negotiable activity in your life, you have to make time for it. Starting with something simple and achievable, with realistic goals, now find a time in the day that works for you.  It could be a fifteen minute morning walk, twenty minutes of yoga in your office in the afternoon, or a half-hour evening run.  Again, something small, realistic, and achievable at a time of day that works for you.  Simple as that.

Step 4: Pair the exercise with something enjoyable

Exercise can get boring sometimes.  Jogging is like that for me. Yet, when I pair it with something enjoyable, I find I can run longer than my set goal. At my health club, I can run paths all over the world on these virtual run tours they offer. On other occasions I listen to music or my favorite podcasts. Michael Hyatt is a current favorite!

When you pair your exercise with something enjoyable you get more out of the experience.  Fitness in not only in a physical form, but can be emotional, intellectual, or spiritual, depending on how you pair the exercise.

Step 5: Praise your progress

Studies show positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement in changing behavior. If you want to establish routine in your physical fitness plan, acknowledge your effort no matter how small it is.

Do not compare yourself to others. Self-criticism will put you right back in the rut. Note your effort. Punctuate your progress. This will likely motivate you to stay on track with your plan.

So, there you have it. Five simple steps to get you out of a rut and into a routine. Now I have something exciting to share with you…

My Christmas Gift to You

I have a Christmas gift to send to you. Please watch the 3 minute video to learn more about it.

[mk_message_box type=”comment-message”]In addition to my Christmas gift to you, I am offering for a limited time, an autographed copy of my book, “Bringing Respect Back: Communicating Without the Conflict”.  The holiday special rate is $10 plus shipping.  All proceeds from book sales are going to OrphaNetwork, a ministry I support.  Buy several copies as gifts for Christmas! You can request copies by emailing me at don@donolund.com.[/mk_message_box]

Now It’s Your Turn

Are you in a rut or a routine when it comes to physical fitness?  If you’re in a rut, what do you plan to do to get out of it? If you are in a routine, tell us what you did to get there.  If you were in a rut, how did you get out?  What do you do to get traction? Share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions in the comment section below.