My Year of Fitness ADD

I seem to be suffering from fitness ADD this year. I’ll start a program with the pep of a 5-year-old at Disney World, follow the plan balls to the wall (figuratively speaking) for 3-4 weeks, then lose interest, usually when it’s time to swap out exercises and change things up again. I have been so busy with travel, work, and other interests since last fall that I can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for learning a new lift that involves balancing on one foot while performing bent-over dumbbell rows, you know?

Running, which has long been my staple cardio exercise despite my ineptitude at it, is now the very last thing I want to do when I go to the gym, effectiveness at fat-burning be damned.

Does this happen to everyone that has been working out steadily for a few years?

If so, how do you get over it?

Objectively, I know that a big part of the problem for me is that I’ve already done this before–the getting into shape via diet, strength training, and intervals things, that is. I love the challenge of learning and mastering something new, but once I have successfully completed a project, I want to move on to another one that will test me in different ways. The issue I’ve been having over the past two years is that nearly all of the programs I have tried have been exactly the same as Body for Life with only some minor differences in the selection of resistance exercises.

There is no intellectual or physical challenge in doing yet another 3 days of lifting/3 days of interval cardio program, no matter what you choose to name it.

And on the nutrition front, things aren’t much better. You can nitpick for the rest of your life over whether carbohydrate/protein/fat macronutrient ratios at at 50/30/20, 40/30/30, or 40/40/20 are better, but given a baseline quantity of protein, it still boils down to how much you are taking in and burning off each day, and the differences really aren’t that significant because you are still choosing from the same list of clean foods.

In a last ditch effort to bring back the RAWR attitude for 2008 and break out of this funk, I’m going to give a 12-week program that I’ve always wanted to try from one of the final issues of Muscle and Fitness Hers (R.I.P.) a shot for the next three months. It features a three days on, one day off lifting split that varies sets and reps of the same exercises every 4 weeks so I won’t have to deal with perfecting my form on a whole new set of exercises just when I start to get into a good groove with the ones I have already learned. The most important part of the program is that it will force me to go to the gym at least six days out of every seven because I can’t perform the lifting workouts at home.

The fact that cardio is limited to one short 15-20 minute HIIT session on one of the lifting days and 45 minutes of lower-intensity steady state on the off days doesn’t hurt, either. I figure that I can mix things up on the off days with gym cardio, swimming, walking, Forza, 10-Minute Trainer workouts, Yourself Fitness, NYC Ballet, and Hip Hop Abs.

Here is the basic schedule:

Day 1: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps (60 min); (Optional) Hip Hop Abs or other home cardio (30 min)
Day 2: Back/Biceps/Abs (60 min); HIIT Run (20 min)
Day 3: Lower Body (60 min); (Optional) NYC Ballet Workout or yoga (45 min)
Day 4: HIIT Run (20 min); LISS Cardio (40 min)

1. 1.5 c. Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, 1/2 c. light soy milk, 3 egg whites
2. 1 banana, 1/2 c. 1% cottage cheese, 1 T. cocoa powder, 1 packet Splenda
3. 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 1 c. asparagus veggie mix, 5 slices jalapeno peppers, 1 apple
4. 2 unsalted rice cakes, 1 T. all-natural peanut butter
5. 1/2 WW pita, 2 slices turkey breast, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 30g baby carrots
6. 1 plum + TBD (Dinner provided by company for late night)

Water: 16 cups
Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D

* 10-Minute Trainer Cardio and Lower Body (20 min)
* Forza (30min)
* YF Cardio (60 min)

8 thoughts on “My Year of Fitness ADD

  1. Hey Maggie–I have been reading your site for a couple years now, found you through Skwigg, and I love following along as your real life collides with your exercise goals–I have similar challenges, including boredom. Recently, though, I have taken up capoeira (Brazilian martial art–tons of kicking, handstands, cartwheels) which is both an awesome workout and also a great way to inspire me in the gym. Now I am doing squats because they make my kicks better, handstand pushups so I can do a free-balance handstand (still a long way away!), etc. I know it’s a cliche, but it does seem like the time might be right for you to shift away from workouts for their own sake and start pursuing them as a means to a different end…you’re an inspiration either way, though!

  2. Hey Charlotte–Thanks for reminding me about capoeira! I actually gave capoeira a try last year and loved it as well. There is a school that is not too far from my office and another branch closer to my house. It would be my martial art of choice in a heartbeat if I could A) actually get to the classes on time with my work schedule and B) justify the additional expense in my budget while still working on paying down the second mortgage as fast as possible.

    It’s a good suggestion, though…I will have to check the school’s schedule and see if I can work around it.

  3. Hi Maggie,

    First of all, thanks for the inspiration. I actually started my own blog site because of you. I’ve always been into working out but just prior to this year my motivation in working out (and nutrition) has completely disappeared. So when this year began, my co-worker and I started the whole P90X workout and that’s when I saw your site. Since then, you’ve been on my Google Reader and I’ve been blogging away. 🙂

    Putting my fanboy behavior aside, what has always gotten me back into my workout routines had been doing WORKOUT BETS with families and friends. My co-worker and I added an incentive to the P90X program by making a promise that whoever gives up has to pay for lunch. After the P90X program, I maintained my workout routine by doing another bet with another group of friends, this time a six-pack workout bet. Basically, anyone who doesn’t get a six-pack by the end of 3 months will have to pay $100 each. The ones who do reach their goal will get the money. It’s definitely worked out well for me this whole year. It made my workouts fun and at the same time competitive and motivational.

  4. Hey Maggie ! The eharmony ad just ran here in Santa Barbara, CA and I glanced up just in time to see you looking back at me from my TV ! You guys looked great … there was your 3 seconds of fame.

    As for fitness ADD, I think I have the worst case ever. What helped me (a lazy sloth by nature, so not like you at all !) was hiring a personal trainer. I started on October 3rd last year and am coming up on my one year anniversary, and I have to tell you – I am having the BEST results ever. Obviously the key is finding a competent trainer who knows how to push you more than you’d push yourself, still within reason.

    My trainer is at … obviously you can’t meet her since I am in California, but you might enjoy her webpage.

    Love reading your blog … keep it up !!

  5. I recently ran across a book called Hyperfitness which may be great for you. It’s HARD but also works your brain. My brain is happy to keep plugging along with the same program for awhile, or just hop on the elliptical for an hour, because I’d rather read or get studying done. But if you’re bored, this seems like a great program. It’s sean burch, three levels: trekker, climber, and sherpa, and each workout is only 2 weeks.

  6. I went through fitness ADD last summer in a big way. I sort of felt like I couldn’t win for losing, you know, that funk or blah feeling. It was an accumulation of many events and things that got me feeling that way – some I had control over, some I did not. I tried a few different workouts and gadgets but that didn’t change anything. I just kept plugging along and kept moving in some way. I still felt like my workouts and runs were just flat-liners with no progress, but I still did something. By the time Fall rolled around I came out of it because I began to progress again. I started believing in myself again. In the big scheme of things, you can’t go outside of yourself to fix that funk. You have the physical ability to go above and beyond yourself, there’s no doubt. Look at all you’ve accomplished. Perhaps going through fitness ADD is part of the process. I’m sure elite athletes go through this as well. My only advice is to keep on moving. 😉

  7. Hi Maggie — joining the chorus of those who love your blog!

    One “a-ha” moment for me, fitness-wise came when you pointed out that ultimately, every reputable fitness plan works if you actually stick to it, because ultimately, it’s about caloric deficits, aerobic movement and anaerobic movement, and it is always similar.

    So my method for keeping interested has been to change up my goals. Like: I’ll set a goal to increase my short-repetition lifts by 25% over the next 6 months, then read up on how to do that. Another one from the past: What gym exercises can help me improve my explosiveness to increase rowing? (even though I’m not a rower)

    I’ve also thought about Crossfit, but it’s so expensive!

  8. OK – what happened to M&F Hers because I purchased a subscription not too long ago?!? I think I embrace my fitness ADD because I never really do one “program” for 6-8 weeks. I have my staple cardio of step aerobics and running which hasn’t bored me yet (mainly because I keep signing up for longer races). For strength, sometimes I prefer doing boot camp style workouts, sometimes circuit training, sometimes regular old lifting. This may not be the most effective way of going about things for certain goals, but I’m still in weight loss/muscle retention mode.

    I’ve been doing CrossFit for about a month now and I’m loving it. I like that you never know what to expect for any given daily workout and during each session I seem to learn a new exercise. I pay about double what I pay per month for my big box chain gym membership for unlimited visits. I think the cost varies by affiliate.

    I also take pole dancing lessons and I love it. It isn’t traditional strength training but it works everything and advanced moves require a lot of upper body and core strength. Plus, it feels more like fun and less like work. I don’t get bored with it at all.

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