7 Simple Tips to Bust out of a Fitness Rut

Updated on May 23, 2019
Alyssa Nichol profile image

Alyssa has a passion for fitness and sharing her favorite tips and tricks with the world. Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast.

So, you set a fitness goal. You've been working hard and showing up for yourself, but you aren't seeing the results. Maybe you had an injury and you're recovering; you're trying to get back into your routine, but you just aren't feeling it anymore. You've hit a wall. You're stuck—feeling stagnant, in a rut. This saps all your energy, and you have no idea what to do to turn it around. It happens. We've all been there. Try these simple tips to get yourself unstuck and back to your routine.

1. Assess Your Health

For a variety of reasons, we sometimes project feelings from one area of life onto another. In order to overcome this, we have to get to the bottom of what's actually wrong. To start, ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Am I eating well?
  • Am I eating enough? Too much?
  • Am I eating too much junk?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Am I stressed about work?
  • Am I upset about something?

Be honest with yourself. Get to the root of the problem. Identifying the cause of your feelings can be difficult and emotional, but it's the only way to truly solve the issue and move forward. If you don't, chances are you'll find yourself in the same exact spot again in a few months.

Sometimes all you need is a good night's sleep. Get to bed early and make sure you're getting enough rest. Fuel your body with nutritious, healthy food and cut back on the junk. If you're stressed about something at work, identify what it is specifically that's stressing you out and try to come up with a solution. If it's something else upsetting you, be honest with yourself about what it is, and work it out.

2. Stop the Comparison Game

We've heard this a million times. We're constantly bombarded with messages of body positivity, telling us to love our bodies no matter our size and we're beautiful just the way we are. This is all fine and well, and definitely has merit. We should love ourselves and our bodies, no matter what. With age comes wisdom, and as I've gotten older, I've found that having a consistent fitness routine not only makes me look good, but also inspires confidence. Exercise has changed my mindset and allowed me to shift that insecurity or jealousy into appreciation for hard work and dedication; and then motivation to work toward my own goals. At least in the physical world.

Online can be a more difficult environment to navigate. Scrolling through social media, seeing everyone's highlight reel: all the beautiful photos in exotic locations; fit, toned, tanned bodies; people grinding away at the gym; gorgeous, bendy yoga poses; the photos with hundreds and thousands of likes; the follower count; the list goes on and on. It's hard to not compare ourselves with these amazing photos, and if you're feeling stuck and scrolling through, it's even harder. So what's the solution? Quit social media? Uninstall your app? Not quite, but logging off for a little while to get your bearings is a good start. When you're in a rut, feeling stagnant, or stuck, scrolling through other people's lives can keep you in that cycle of comparison, ultimately just making it worse.

One of the best things you can do is unplug and give yourself some clarity. Take a breath. You know that most people are filtering their photos, you know that everyone tries to get the most flattering angle, and a lot depends on lighting. You also know that everyone is showing the best parts of their lives and themselves. Stopping the cycle of comparison online is a lot like stopping it in the physical world: it requires a mindset shift and a transfer of energy.

For example:

  • Instead of thinking, "that girl looks amazing, why don't I look like that," try shifting your thought to, "wow, that girl works hard and it shows!"
  • Instead of, "she's so thin and flexible. I'm not flexible at all. I'll never be able to do that," try, "she has incredible flexibility and that pose looks so elegant. I'm going to stretch and add another yoga class to my practice so I can become more flexible. Maybe I'll give that pose a try."

Turn "why can't I do that or I'll never be able to do that," into "that's inspiring, I want to work hard and do that too." Changing your thought pattern can turn the comparison game into inspiration. It isn't always easy to do, but the more you catch yourself and turn your thoughts around, the better you'll get, until it becomes automatic.

It's also helpful to pay attention to who you're following and who you're giving time and attention to. Your time is precious and when it comes to social media, you are in control of what you're seeing. If you are following a bunch of accounts that make you feel bad about yourself or your life, unfollow. Social media can and should be a place of inspiration and positive connection. Follow people who inspire you to better yourself and who motivate you to work on your own goals. Seek out like-minded people who are encouraging, supportive, and kind.

It's worth noting that if this is something that is compromising your mental health, then you should find someone to talk to, whether it's a trusted family member, a close friend, or a professional. You are not alone and seeking help is not a weakness.

3. Expand Your Horizons

If you've been doing the same workout program for a while, lifting the same weights, working on the same machines, doing the same routine, it might be time to change it up. Broaden your horizons and try something new.

  • Sign up for an interesting class - Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Barre, Soul Cycle, etc.
  • Try a new fitness program - Tone It Up, Body By Simone, P.Volve, Tracy Anderson, Tonique, etc.
  • Do the opposite of what you've been doing - if you normally run, try strength training; if you normally do steady state cardio, try HIIT; if you normally lift weights, hop on the elliptical for half an hour.
  • Work with a personal trainer - find a personal trainer at your gym to get guidance and insight on what you can do to achieve your fitness goals.
  • Hop on YouTube or visit the library - try a fun fitness video from PopSugar Fitness or another channel; check out a fun fitness DVD from the library, something you've never done before.

15 Min Yoga for When You Are Stuck | Yoga With Adriene

4. Take a Break

Sometimes you just need a break. This is especially true if you've been working out most days of the week, sticking to your routine, and you're not seeing results. It's possible that you are doing too much. If your stress levels are high, there's a good chance your cortisol levels are high, which will just signal to your body to hold on to the fat you want to lose. It's also possible that you aren't giving your body enough time to recover. Try taking a break to relax. Slow down, enjoy a day off, maybe read a book or watch your favorite show. Resting is just as important as your work out and vital for results.

5. Have Some Fun

In addition to resting and taking a break, sometimes it's important to just have fun. Get out of your head and out of your rut by doing an activity that you enjoy. Get outside and work in the garden. Go outside and play with your kids. Maybe visit a park and go hiking or swimming. If you love adventures, take a trip to an amusement park or go zip lining. Being active in nature is a great way to reconnect with yourself and your family. It's also helps put everything in perspective. Life is short. Grinding away at your fitness routine is all fine and well, and working hard, earning money is important, but what's the point if you don't take the time to enjoy your life?

6. Consider Changing Your Goal

Sometimes it's worth re-evaluating what you're working toward. If you feel stuck or you've hit a wall, it might be time to change your goal. Think about why you started your fitness routine in the first place. What was your ultimate goal? Have you actually been working toward that goal? If so, awesome! If not, why? What's stopped you?

It might be time to set a different goal, and if that's the case, that's okay. Don't feel bad about it. Set a goal that really means something and that is doable.

7. Flip Your Perspective and Shift Your Mindset

This last tip is the most important. This is the one that will help you overcome the constant cycle of being on top of your fitness routine and then falling off. It will help you stay consistent and dig deep when motivation is no where to be found.

You have to shift your mindset about fitness, realign your priorities, and become disciplined. This is a hard truth for many, but it's vital for success in all areas of your life. It all comes down to personal responsibility. We are all in control of our choices, our actions, and our reactions. Fitness is a lifestyle. It's not something you do for a few days or months and then set aside, expecting results. Those results won't happen if that's what you do. If you constantly rely on motivation to get you through, you are setting yourself up for failure.

People who are fit and lead successful lives don't always feel like doing what needs done. Sometimes they don't want to work out. Sometimes they don't want to tackle that to-do list or complete a task. But they do it anyway. Why? Because they realize that in order to achieve their goal, maintain their progress, or be successful, they have to get it done. Simple as that. They have the mindset and the discipline to just get it done. Tracy Hensel says it best in her video below. She compares working out to going to work every day. You don't always want to get up and go to work, but you do it anyway. It's the same with working out. No, you might not want to, but you do it anyway. It's not a choice, it just gets done.

We all find ourselves in a rut from time to time. We feel stuck, stagnant, like we are trying to swim upstream -- working and working, but not getting anywhere. Stuck in the same place, doing the same things, over and over, and not making any progress. That's when it's time to have an honest conversation with ourselves, identify the issue at hand, create a solution, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get to work.

Life is short. Don't waste time on feeling bad or feeling sorry for yourself. Find gratitude for the small things, realize that tomorrow is not guaranteed, take responsibility for today, do something that gets you closer to your goals, and continuing going after the life you want to live.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Alyssa


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    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      13 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much! Yes, starting is the hardest part. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      13 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Alyssa, great advice from the first word to the last. I have this problem a lot. I start a fitness routine that is going well and then I hurt my back, get the flu or something and it is all back to square one. It is often hard to get motivated even for stuff I know needs doing. One I manage to get started I am fine, but that's the hard part.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      13 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much! I agree, will power and consistency are important! :)

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      13 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you! Competitions are intense. What a great way to stay accountable!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      13 months ago from Ohio

      Haha! Thank you, Bill! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      13 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you so much, Pamela! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      13 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Great motivational article!

      I believe the most important thing is will power and consistency. Even if we know, what we must do to keep fit, we leave everything half way.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful article with useful suggestions.

    • PrometheusIV profile image


      13 months ago

      Great Lens! You have a lot of pertinent and helpful tips in here. Body Transphormation competitions at my favorite means of forcing accountability upon myself. Keep it up!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sigh! You make it all sound so simple. LOL How about an article for 70 year olds who are too busy to breathe. :) Great suggestions my young friend. Have a great weekend!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      13 months ago from Sunny Florida

      You have given a ton of wonderful tips on being healthy and fit in this article. I think changing your routine occasionally is a great idea, especially if you no longer are interested in the same old thing. I think not comparing yourself to others is also a good thing.


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