Okay, its no big shock that change is important to any well-rounded wellness plan. Having variety in your workouts and nutrition keeps your body from getting complacent, your workouts from getting stale, and your progress from getting stagnant. So I am a big believer in frequent, substantive change.
I am also a believer in cross-training. I like to do a little bit of everything - running, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, weights, elliptical, Pilates...they all have a place in my workouts. I like knowing that my body is in an almost-constant state of flux, and that I have the flexibility to work with obstacles (like a sore knee) and cater to whims (like having a craving for the smell of chlorine on a beautiful day) without having to upset my schedule.
And when it comes to facilitating change in my workouts, I try to abide by one motto: "Don't just do things differently...do different things." But sometimes I forget.
I've been needing more cardio these days, and my first instinct was to just get up earlier and run longer. I set my alarm for 4:00 am, and tried to convince myself that the psycho serial killers waiting for me in the bushes aren't really morning people. But the next morning at 4:00 am, I proceeded to hit snooze for 30 minutes, and ended up being later to the gym than I would have been if I had gotten up at my regular time (a mere 15 minutes later).
My second plan was to just try to keep my heart rate up during my weights so I could count it as cardio. I told my trainer I wanted to do more exercises using multiple muscle groups and kept an eye on my monitor to see how I was doing. It was pretty pitiful, and none of my workout buddies seemed super-pumped about my idea that we all do plyometrics in between sets. So it was back to square one.
Then I remembered my motto - don't just do things differently. Do different things.
I arrived early for Pilates the next day and noticed some sweat-drenched women leaving the aerobics room at the church where I workout at lunch. My investigative skills swung into action: They're sweaty! They've been doing cardio! Like a junkie looking for a fix, I tried to act casual as I laid out my Pilates mat and nonchalantly asked the instructor about the class that had just taken place. So....you do this every day? And what do you do on Wednesdays? And would you say I would get a lot of cardio? He nodded enthusiatically and promised me more cardio than I could handle. I decided that we would just see about that.
The next week I showed up at the all-you-can-take cardio buffet with a little apprehension and a moderate-sized chip on my shoulder. I knew these women - they were in the locker room with me after my water aerobics class, and they annoyed the crap out of me. They were loud, pushy, and thought they were just the best game in town. So I wasn't super-pumped about being the newbie in their little club. Plus, I was afraid I was going to have to start exchanging recipes for taco dip after class like they're usually doing on Thursdays.
The day I arrived, they informed me that the instructor was on vacation so one woman took charge, even though she had a foot injury, and proceeded to limp around the room dramatically as she barked orders at us. They turned out to be a friendly and welcoming group, but they were also peculiar. They seemed to have named all of the exercises after people. I wasn't sure if they were in honor of someone who really loved the exercises, or in memory of someone who had died while doing them. I didn't really want to know. I just did my Rhondas and kept my mouth shut.
At the end of the class, I was converted. These women were bossy, set in their ways, and a little obnoxious, but I knew I would be back. It was a good class, even if I didn't want to admit it. When I left, they waved and smiled and told me to have a nice afternoon. I guess I made the cut.
The difference between doing something and excelling at it is a willingness to look for ways to be better. What are you doing to be better? The next time you consider upping your game, don't just do something differently. Do something entirely different.