The simple answer, in the words of Fred DeVito, is this "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you."
To improve your fitness, exercise always need to be challenging. This level of challenge will be different for everyone and may vary from year to year even for yourself.
There is a huge difference between doing exercise, finding it hard and therefore feeling demotivated OR doing exercise, thriving on the challenge and enjoying the rush of endorphins you get when you are done and motivated to do it all again.
There is a huge hump between these two states of mind and getting over that hump is not always an easy task. When on the wrong side of the hump you will ask yourself "why does this feel so hard?". Once you reach the top of the hump you will say "this is really hard, I'm loving it!"
I have found myself on both sides of this hump on a number of occasions over the years and in more recent times, on the wrong side of the hump.
So how can you get over that hump?
Unfortunately it's not going to happen without some perseverance and dedication. It takes a lot of consistency over an indefinite period of time to hike up to the top of that hump.
I have never been a naturally sporty person. I would always do everything I could to get out of PE lessons at school and probably didn't start properly exercising until I was well into my twenties. However, as a family we were active, often outdoors, spent summer weekends sailing and winter weekends walking. Over my adult years I have been up and down that hump with different activities; gym memberships, cycling, yoga, swimming, group exercise classes, walking, running etc. etc. At some point with all of these activities I have found myself "looking forward" to doing them, not having to procrastinate or overthink about getting out of the door, just getting on with it.
Sadly I have not been like this for some time. Any exercise I do hurts me, my joints ache, I feel lethargic and the thought of doing it makes me feel thoroughly miserable, with perhaps the exception of walking. It's not all bad though, in a normal week my core fitness regime involves two hours of yoga and walking my dogs daily. So I am doing something (always better than nothing).
I don't want to be like this, I want to go back to being excited about doing some exercise, whatever that might be.
So this is how I am tackling the problem.
I have had a 12 week kettle bell home workout written for me by another personal trainer. The plan consists of 4 workouts per week that I can tick off, the longest workout over the 12 weeks is 20 minutes long - very manageable to fit in to even the busiest schedule. I have made myself accountable to another person, making sure that I tell them when I am going to do my workout and then reporting to them that I have completed the workout. I am halfway through week 3 and I have noticed this week during my yoga sessions that I have felt stronger and less lethargic. Hopefully by the end of week 4 I will feel like I have made some progress up that hump!
It's not exciting and would not keep me motivated in the longterm but I am doing something consistent and making progress, albeit slowly. After the 12 weeks, or keeping my fingers crossed within the 12 weeks, this will give me the confidence to build on this progress I have made and motivate me to try other activities again. My ultimate goal - exercise will no longer hurt me or make me feel miserable but it will excite me and make me feel good about myself.
The journey and up and over that hump might be tiny little steps, or they may be giant leaps. What's important is that they are upwards.
1. Set a goal - a home workout plan, an exercise class, a walking/running/cycling or swimming plan, a DVD...
2. Tell someone you are doing it and to make sure you keep doing it.
3. Stick to your schedule religiously, no excuses, no exceptions - THIS IS IMPORTANT
4. Set a new goal.
Progress is progress, however small the steps are.