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Fitness Clutter – Polish Up Your Routine to Maximize Your Gains

While many of us realize the benefits of a good deep cleaning for our house, how many of us consider how helpful a little “Spring Cleaning” could be to our diets and fitness routines?

It’s always been a bit odd to me how much I loathe cleaning, but enjoy cleanliness. I think the only cleaning I really don’t mind doing is the regular dusting of my TV and electronics to keep them shiny and the picture crisp and clear.

There honestly aren’t many things in this world that make me happier than sitting down to enjoy a great movie on a shiny TV while not having to worry with how messy things are around me. The process of cleaning isn’t always a ton of fun, but the end results are usually worth it.

The same is true about tidying up our diets and fitness routines from time to time. Every now and then, a good thorough cleaning is needed to keep the clutter and cobwebs from ruining all of the hard work we’ve put in so far.

One of the most common reasons for burnout that I’ve seen in gyms comes from what people are doing once they get there. After the initial results have begun to fade from the new routine you started back in January, it’s easy to become fed up.   You’re showing up each day to the gym. You’re constantly running through the same motions, only to wake up and do it all over again. The same old routine might just lose its shine after a month or two.  The best thing to do is polish it up a bit.

Begin by taking a real, honest assessment of your routine before you start trying to shine it up. It’s like the old saying goes, no matter how much you polish a turd… well, you know. Sometimes our goals will shift or change.  We may have successfully lost the weight we were trying to lose. So, our original routine is no longer effective for adding beef to our biceps now that definition allows them to be seen more clearly. If the goal posts have moved, make sure you are working with a clear plan to get to them.

Probably the easiest way to polish your routine is to look for exercises to add or substitute for some of those you have become bored with.

I’m not saying to throw the baby out with the bathwater (that’s a terrible cleaning analogy, I know…), but adding a few new lifts or changing your routine a little can be beneficial. The changes could add excitement to your gym-time to try a few of the new lifts.   It could also allow you to build a more balanced foundation to other lifts.   It might even help prepare you for PR’s planned for the near future. “Scheduled variety” is one of the programming principles suggested by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) to make sure a program is well rounded and able to provide a continued return on investment.

Another suggestion for getting that “new routine smell” back is to make sure you are realistic with your schedule and availability for the gym. There are few things more demoralizing to your progress than planning a routine requiring you to hit the gym 6 days a week when reality dictates that you can honestly commit to only 4. Don’t see this as a failure! You will find more success and less frustration from your routine if you base it on a real schedule, not a dreamy, unrealistic one. Honestly assess what you are working with so that you can put optimal effort into the time you actually have.

I don’t know about you, but our pantry and refrigerator are two places that need the most regular maintenance and cleaning. We really do have to set aside one good day (at least) each year where we go in and throw away potential science experiments that the kids have hidden and condiment packets from The Great Depression. Yeah, those things can get messy and cluttered fast.

Another problem that I’ve experienced with these food storage spaces is how quickly a few shopping trips of weakness have allowed all kind of snacks back in. The first month or two of a new diet routine are usually disciplined.  But, they are usually followed by convincing yourself, “I’ll buy this and not eat more than one a day”.  Soon, this part of the pantry and fridge look like a well-stocked dessert store.  It’s there, begging us to have, “just one more snack”. BOOM! The delicious clutter is ready to start getting the best of us… again.

There is more and more research into things like “food environments” and how these may play a significant role in obesity. Ultimately, it’s what we have ready access to that might influence how we eat. I’ll avoid giving a synopsis of every one of these studies.  However, anecdotally speaking, I’ve had far more clients succeed with meeting their dietary goals when they kept foods that triggered them to eat more than they should completely out of the house. Now, I’m not suggesting you never buy and enjoy the foods you love. I am suggesting you don’t keep them readily available in the house, especially not in bulk.

So, with Spring Cleaning upon us, it might be worth taking a look at your routine and personal food environment. Polish up your routine and clean out the fridge and cupboards.  Get back to experiencing the joys of improvement again. I hope you enjoy your new decluttered fitness routine!

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