Motivation Monday (On Tuesday): Small Adjustments

As I move past week 8 of my new workout regiment, I find myself thinking about two things:

  1. I’m getting used to this workout, and need to spice things up
  2. I have a 10K run coming up in 10 weeks, and I have a goal time of 60 minutes.

With a race and a major goal coming up, I am thinking about more specific training – to drop some weight, increase my stamina, and up my running pace.  Combine that with the need to change up my workouts, and it’s time for a new routine.

Adjusting the process can be difficult when you’re working toward a big long-term goal, especially when that goal will certainly take years and you are on week 9.  But if there is a smaller goal to work towards in the short term, you can make those small adjustments and still make progress on the long term.  Today, we figure out how to make sustainable adjustments.

Not the kind of adjustment we’re talking about, but (hopefully) same result.

It happens, you will get bored.  You’ll become used to your new life with the adjustments you’ve made, and it won’t feel new anymore.  The proverbial honeymoon will be over.  Now you’re in the grind, the times where things don’t seem to move forward, where you get bored with the routine and need to find a way to spice things up, make it feel new, renew that sense of focus and progress.

But you’re worried.  If you make too much of a tweak it could mess up everything and send you spiraling back to the start, to before you made a manageable change, when everything was chaotic and you were moving further from your goal.  It’s easy to fall back into old routines. They are comfortable.  It’s much easier to imagine your future success then it is to actually work hard on it and face the difficult reality.

So when you feel like changing something, remember that you don’t need to change much to make it different, new, exciting. Keep it simple, and stick to the principles that made your new life sustainable in the first place.

As a personal example, to change things up I didn’t decide to have longer workouts, less rest, or a different diet.  My big change was to focus on stamina over muscle growth, and to do it by increasing my cardio and decreasing my weight training by a small to moderate amount.

Reading this you might say, big whoop.  What kind of change is that? Won’t you still be bored? Well when it comes to changing workouts, any subtle differences can create a big shift.  You can change the amount of rest between sets, the number of sets, or reps per set, or even the speed with which you complete each rep.  All of these changes are enough to confuse your muscles and cause them to adapt by growing stronger.

To reduce my weight training I am going to focus on compound lifts, exercises that use a lot of muscle groups at once.  I can spend less time on these exercises and still maintain my strength and muscle mass, while freeing up time to burn more calories with high intensity cardio.  I’ll still spend the same amount of time in the gym, but end up with a focus on burning calories more than building muscle.  All that from a small tweak.

Try not to make this face at people when adjusting weights. Source: LA Fitness

Even though the example is from fitness, the reality is that it applies to anything.  Diet is the same.  If you wanted to shift the amount of calories you eat to lose more fat, you would only want to make a small adjustment.  If you take away too many calories you’ll be too hungry to stick to your plan, and your body will go into starvation mode.

If you’re working hard on a project and want to complete it sooner, you can give an extra 30 minutes a day to it instead of reading before bed.  If you give too much extra time you may lose sleep, and your productivity will suffer in the long run.  See what I mean?

From all of these examples, it’s about balance.  Balance A with B.  Small adjustments while maintaining balance will keep you on track.  If you’re making big changes you will be all over the place without being able to identify what works, and then you’ll never get on track.  Start where you are, make the tweaks slowly.  If they contribute to your success, keep them, and if they slow your progress, try something else.  Don’t change too much at once, don’t make changes too often.

Keeping all of this in mind, you will be able to choose smaller goals to work toward, and still ensure progress toward the big goal.  Always remember to drive change, because it is good.  It keeps you in the game, energized, and focused.  Work hard, keep going, and don’t ever give up.




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