Can I get my motivation back? By Baraa El Sabbagh, Personal Trainer and Registered Dietician
What To Do When You're Bored Of Training
“When I used to workout 3 times a week I felt great afterwards. Now, I’m working out 5 times a week and I don’t feel as good. Do endorphins reduce over time? What are the do’s and don’ts in a fitness journey? Basically, WHERE ARE MY ENDORPHINS?”
If the answer’s yes, this blog post is about to answer all your questions. You might want to check out the podcast episode if you’re running errands but still want to hear the answer!
What Are Endorphins?
They are the chemicals that are made in the brain and are released during exercise. They bring about so many benefits, and there’s really nothing like them! If you’re not feeling great about life or you’re in a bad mood, chances are endorphins will make you feel a lot better.
Endorphins effects don’t last forever, but they do the job in that they’ll put you in a great and happy mood for the rest of the day. It’s the reason trainers tell people: “stick with it, you’ll feel better afterwards”. Maybe you’ve seen those post-workout selfies with big smiles over on instagram, those are endorphin induced as well.
You might have heard of a runner’s high? That’s when they feel ecstatic after running and running and running. Those are endorphins, but you don’t have to run to get them, it can be achieved by any sort of activity that feels good to you, but it’s accelerated when there’s motion!
The Benefits Of Raising Endorphins
Now that you know raising your endorphins makes you feel good, here are some things you may not have known about the relation of exercise and how it affects your mental state via endorphins.
- Studies show that the more you exercise, the more you’re building defenses in your body against possible stressful situations. Imagine you have a big event coming up, (work or social related). You’re going to get butterflies in your stomach about it,
Possibly losing sleep over it, or you might lose your appetite entirely. If you’re regularly exercising, that anxiety subsides dramatically! You would be getting better sleep, a healthy appetite, plus feeling a lot more confident.
- It’s just a natural upper you want more of. There’s a reason people that run or train regularly are raving about the good vibes inside them, it can happen to you, too! So if you’re tired of feeling tired, give exercise a chance to prove to you how endorphins will change your life.
How Long Till I feel Endorphins?
On average, you need about 10 to 20 minutes of light to moderate exercise to feel the release of endorphins. Some people might need a little longer, like 30 minutes, to feel a difference. You might also be wondering WHAT type of workout will bring about these good vibes, but the answer depends on each individual.
- For some, a power walk can bring about endorphins.
- For others, a high intensity lifting session might do the trick.
You gotta try different types of exercises, from light to intense, and you’ll eventually find that sweet spot for ultimate endorphin release!
Tough Love About Exercising
It’s not in my nature to tell you “hey, if you’re not feeling the endorphins from a workout, maybe working out is not for you”. I will ALWAYS endorse a sweat session just because I know the long term effects are golden for both feeling and looking good. So if you’re not feeling like you can lift weights one day or you canceled on your walking group cause you just can’t bring yourself to join, that’s okay ONLY if you know it’s temporary.
For now, take a break and process how you feel, your body might be begging for this time off and there’s nothing wrong with that. But think of it like you’re going on a mini-vacation: When you return, it’s back to the grind but feeling stronger and better from the break. So pump that iron or go back to that yoga sculpt class. The bottom line is: don’t give up and say it’s not for you!
Time Off To Invest In Your Health
Time off is actually an investment in your health. Every once in a while, it’s great to give your muscles and joints a break. Because once you do, you will come back 100% more energized and excited to complete a workout or run your 5K, trust me. I just took a week break while I was on holiday and coming back feels awesome!
There’s a whole podcast episode I recorded on the benefits of rest days, give it a listen after this episode, you’re going to love being told to sit on the couch, be lazy, and Netflix all weekend.
Are Your Workouts Repetitive Or Boring?
So let’s go back to the question at the beginning: I used to feel good when I was working out 3 times a week, but now that I increased my training to 5 times a week, I don’t feel as good. Where did my endorphins go? Let’s assume this person is doing 5 of the same workouts a week, maybe strength training.
The problem here might be overtraining and overdoing it with the same moves. Think about it: let's say you love pizza. It’s a treat when you have it 1 or 2 times a month. But if you have it every single day, your love for pizza WILL quickly fade away. And it’s the same with our training. You don’t want boredom to creep into your workouts, you want variety and you want a lot of it!
So if you’re working out 5 times a week, doing the same exercises, sets and reps over and over, with the same playlist on repeat, it can get ridiculously tedious and it’ll discourage you from working out again. It’s human nature! We’re not robots. We can’t show up day in and day out, expecting to perform the same way or have the same motivation up our sleeve,
How To Change It Up At The Gym
if you feel like you’re in a rut at the gym, I say shake it up.
- Join that hot yoga pilates fusion class,
- Find a running group in your neighborhood,
- Or take a tennis lesson, just for kicks.
You can stick with the 3 strength training sessions a week. But find another outlet for your energy on the other 2 days. get a friend to join you too (or not) and I promise those endorphins will be back and better than ever!
Keeping Strength Training Exciting
If the goal is to progress (just like mine!) and you want to start working on your muscles 4 or 5 days a week but you’re worried about it getting boring, make sure the workouts are changing. I change my routine every 3-4 weeks. If you're looking for something personalized, check out my programs! There's also a really special one coming up in November, B's Fit & Fab Fall Program. We work out together 4 times a week for 4 weeks, and the progress on there is incredible.
Another thing you can try is a new trainer if you’ve been with the same one for years. I know you love your trainer, I know it’s your comfort zone, but greatness happens outside your comfort zone. Join a group weight lifting class on some days and feed off everybody else’s vibes, just change something if it’s not serving you anymore, but don’t stop it completely!
Just Not In The Mood To Workout Today
Sometimes you’re just NOT in the mood to workout on a particular day, maybe you had a long week, a fight with a spouse, something big is going on at work. You don’t need a reason, you just don’t want to workout.
I have a friend, Laura, that likes to move every single day, whether it’s a PT session, tennis, walking, swimming, or following a YouTube dance video. One day she simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed and didn’t feel like doing anything,
But of course she thought a workout would change her mood. She checked her gym’s timetable and found a fun circuit class she could join that evening. She got dressed and pushed herself to go to the class and guess what? She did NOT feel good afterwards. Because her mood for the day was set and it wasn’t great.
So what if you didn’t connect to your endorphins one time? It's OK! Just call it a day, go to sleep, and start fresh tomorrow.
Endorphins From Non-Physical Activities
To end this post, I’m going to share some awesome home improvement tips with you guys. Let’s say you want the endorphins but without the exercise. It’s alright, like we said you might be having an off day but you still want those feel good chemicals but without overexerting yourself.
- Laugh it off! Watch a comedy special, a funny show or movie, or hang out with your funniest friends. Laughing can lift your spirits and relieve tension, 10 times out of 10 (That’s my own statistic but I stand behind it lol!) when you laugh, endorphins are actually getting released and streaming through your body. Pretty cool, right?
- But nothing beats being in nature for me, some sea, sun, green grass and beautiful trees will raise me up any day! It’s scientifically proven too.
- Third thing you can do is, meditate. It’s a free, simple, and a healthy practice to include in your days. I don’t mean to sound like I’m a broken record with the whole meditating advice, but it really has proven to be a calming and spiritual addition to our lives and I have a whole episode on how to get started on that.
- Call a nearby spa, turn off your phone for an hour, and get a nice aromatherapy massage. I know this summer has halted lots of people’s summer plans, but don’t let that get in the way of some relaxation.
- I also love to relax under the sun, so schedule a tanning session this week if the weather is hot enough where you are. Bring along your favorite book or your favorite friend, and treat yourself to some vitamin D.
I’m a big believer that we choose our own happiness, so if you’ve been having a bad week or month, you now have new tools through this post or the podcast you can put to use that will elevate and enhance your mood tenfold. Try exercising first if it’s not something you do often: don’t worry, you don’t need to be in great shape to feel great after a workout.
And if you’re a gym addict but haven’t been connecting to your endorphins lately, by all means take a break and come back with fresh eyes and energy. It’s going to make you feel EPIC. Just don’t disconnect from physical activity for too long. Exercise will promote confidence, relaxation, and energy within you if you let it!