Rev Up Your Life: 6 Ways to Bust Out of a Life Rut
Your Life Ruts"I've hit a weight-loss plateau, and now my scale won't budge."
Once you drop pounds, your body becomes more efficient at burning calories, which makes losing more weight difficult. The fix: Tweak your workout.
Turn up the burn. "Go faster, not longer," says trainer Michael Torres, a performance development coach and the founder of Shift Performance Training, a company with locations in Miami and New York City. A high-intensity session zaps more calories after you stop working out than moderate exercise does because your body maintains increased levels of certain fat-burning enzymes, says Michele Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery. In fact, a new study found that running sprints can increase your VO2 max, a measure of metabolism, by as much as 13 percent. Adding strength-training sessions can move the needle too. Do 20 minutes of resistance and you'll not only burn 128 calories during your workout but also continue to torch more afterward because lifting weights raises your resting metabolic rate.
Tune in. You know that listening to music makes you move. Now research shows that it can also increase the intensity of your effort and decrease how difficult it feels. People in a study at Brunel University in London worked out 15 percent longer and felt 12 percent happier while doing so. For the best results, use your most motivating tunes during the last part of your workout, when you tend to feel more tired, lead author Costas Karageorghis, PhD, says."My social life has stalled."
While our average number of Facebook friends grew from 262 to 303 in the past year, our number of real BFFs is diminishing: A Cornell University study found that adults now have an average of just two close confidants, down from three 28 years ago. To increase your social currency:
Nurture the relationships you have. "Life is always changing: People find new jobs, get married, have kids, and move, and that often brings a shift in friendships when the ties are weak," says Shasta Nelson, the founder of GirlFriendCircles.com, a site that connects women to potential friends in their area. But when the bonds are strong, you'll stay close to the same people for the long term. To forge better connections, Nelson suggests "cross-training" your friends. "Relationships deepen when we practice more ways of being together," she says. So instead of settling for a one-dimensional office friendship, invite your cubicle neighbor to join you for a weekly Zumba class. At least once a month, ask your Spinning class buddies to go to brunch or the movies.
Get out more. Yeah, yeah -- that's a no-brainer. But the truth is, you've got to be strategic about it. "Familiarity comes from being in the same place at the same time consistently," says Andrea Bonior, PhD, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the author of The Friendship Fix. Join a class, volunteer group, or book club that speaks to you; that way, you'll be more apt to find people you click with. Chat with anyone who seems open to making friends, and really listen to what she has to say so you can follow up the next week and eventually branch out from small talk. For instance, if a prospective pal tells you that she's going on vacation, be sure to ask her about it when she gets back. Soon the conversation can evolve into, "Hey, it's always so much fun talking. Would you like to grab dinner?""I used to look forward to my workout, but now I can barely drag myself to the gym."
If you've been doing the same exercise routine for a while, you've probably hit the wall. Petra Kolber, a Reebok global fitness ambassador and an instructor for FitnessGlo, an online exercise-video program, calls this a mental plateau. Your brain is simply crying out to be challenged.
Step out of your comfort zone. Take a class or try an activity you've never done before. (Isn't it time to find out what the fuss over stand-up paddleboarding is about?) When you're learning a new skill, your muscles -- including your mental ones -- will get a better workout than they did from your old sweat session because they haven't yet adapted. Feeling the exercise working will invigorate you.
Motivate yourself even more by creating goals for your chosen activity. For instance, if you decide to start cycling, sign up for a road race later in the year.
Give it a rest. Yep, you heard right. "When it comes to reenergizing, taking time out can be as important as sticking to a routine," Olson says. Fitness buffs we know who have tried it say a brief absence really does make the heart grow fonder. To prevent your break from turning into a long-term habit, keep it short -- about a week -- and, for extra incentive, make a date in advance to work out with a friend on your first day back.
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