If you have had the fulfilling experience of reaping the sweet rewards of participating in a fitness program that works, it’s likely that you have rarely (if ever) strayed from the protocols that earned you the fruit of those strict labors. Perhaps it is a general walking or running program or a very specific split routine in the weight room, or perhaps something off the beaten path such as kettlebell or suspension training. Whatever it is, you committed yourself to this program with all the fervor and one-mindedness of a young lover enraptured with a soulmate, and from this monogamy you have experienced the wonders of a body that you at one point expected to only see in the mirrors within your dreams. Success is delicious, and it looks exactly like you!
And then the unthinkable happens: it’s as if your lover has betrayed you, for not only have the results stopped coming like a torrential storm, but you’re actually backslide! No! How can this be? Maybe if you add another mile or two more sets… Maybe you’ve been resting too much… Dammit! Could it have been that donut? You knew you had a strict calorie limit and like a weakling you cheated and now your program has left you to suffer like the adulterous pig you are!
Calm down, things are not as bleak as they seem.
Your body has adapted. This is not a sign of your program’s failure but instead to its success. You committed to a system that worked for you and the payoff was well earned. The problem now is not with your regimen but with your body. That’s right: your body is a machine, and you refined and oiled it into a very efficient machine at that! Because of this, the old stimuli don’t have the same impact; your body knows how to deal with the stress you’ve been placing on it. It is time for a change, and you can take one of two paths: make a small change to your routine (volume, frequency, exercise order/selection, duration, mode, or intensity) or head in a new direction altogether!
The second option is scary, but well worth it: try something NEW! Lift weights instead of running or try swimming instead of yoga. Better yet, shock yourself with something completely new! If you have never tried to train with kettlebells or suspension straps, now is the time! If Olympic lifts like the snatch or clean & jerk seemed intriguing or scary, now is the time to learn how to perform them! Are there hiking trails nearby? Have you ever tried canoeing? It’s never to late to try a new sport or return to an old one. Don’t think of it as cheating on your routine; treat it more as if your routine was your instructor, and you have learned all you can from it (for now).
The even better news is that you can go back to your old fitness program again later, and it will be waiting with open arms, ready to kick you into submission once again. For now, however, give your body something new to be sore about!