First it was peanut butter sandwiches. Then oatmeal. Then, generic label Special K Red Berries. Then bliss balls. Now, it might be brown rice.
It happens to me fairly often…I find a food I love, and suddenly I can’t get enough of it. I eat it all of the time. Daily. I don’t get sick of it, I don’t crave variety, and I’m perfectly content eating it (and perhaps ONLY it) until I reach my saturation point. The point of no return. I make myself so sick of whatever food I’ve adored that I literally cannot eat it again. For a LONG time. Actually, sometimes I can’t even look at it! It’s a vicious cycle.
This can also happen for me with workouts–once I find something that I enjoy, and that appears to be producing results, I tend not to deviate.
Personally, I love routine. Having a set schedule and clear-cut obligations just WORKS for me. Routines keep me committed, on track, and motivated. In short, I think they’re awesome.
…Except for when they’re not.
Variety is crazy important when it comes to both eating well and working out. Why? Because our bodies are notoriously good at adapting. And while adapting is good for things like, oh, SURVIVAL, it’s not the greatest for progress, advancement, and ultimately, fulfillment.
Let’s talk diet. If you have even the most basic knowledge of nutrition, you already know that variety is key. We to eat a variety of foods to obtain the correct balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from our diets. That means eating many types of food! If we’re only eating a diet of fries and ice cream (which believe me, I could do)–or even raspberries and quinoa–we’ll be nutritionally deficient. Duh. We’ll also probably be super bored. We have to mix it up.
When it comes to working out, variety is even MORE important. As I mentioned above, our bodies are really freaking adaptable. That circuit workout that you almost couldn’t complete last week? Keep at it, and you’ll have killed it by the end of the month. You get stronger, yes. But your body also learns to know what to expect. You adapt. Again, you have to mix it up.
If you’ve reached a plateau, if you’re feeling burnt out, or if you simply need a change, adding some variety into your typical diet and exercise regime is the ultimate quick-fix. How to do it? Here are my top three tips for finding balance with variety.
- Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up three new things. Usually have chicken for dinner? Grab a steak. Living for a particular brand of granola? Try a new cereal instead. Obsessing over cookie dough? Go for Ben & Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurt. Or maybe just get both. Even if you aren’t making healthy swaps 24/7, simply mixing up your food choices allows you to beat boredom while offering your body new and different nutrients.
- Change up your workout routine on rest days. If you spend a lot of time on the treadmill, hit a barre or yoga class once a week! Not only will the the break from running benefit you, but the “rest day” workout of your choice will offer a new challenge that will keep your body guessing.
- Make your favorite things special. When I feel like I’m becoming obsessed (in a not-so-good way) with a certain food, i’ll make it a treat. It’s a reward! Yay! Then, I still get to have it, but I don’t gorge, or really get sick of it. It’s a planned indulgence that makes eating more mindful and special. I mean, there’s no real reason that I should be eating Special K all day, every day. You know what they say about too much of a good thing…
Eat your favorite foods and crush your favorite workouts…Just do other things too!