Constant Lethargy

I suppose the answer to this is to just get up and go anyways, but I seem to have lost all my energy and enthusiasm for working out since the pandemic. I used to be able to just get up and go to the gym and knock out at least a decent workout no matter how I was feeling, easily decline/avoid unhealthy foods. I was active daily with the gym, hockey and just being outdoors in general. I was down 70lbs and finally building the body I wanted/needed. Even after a sports injury, I was at the gym at least 5 days a week. Now, I can barely even pack my gym bag, let alone get myself there. 2yrs in isolation, losing muscle mass and gaining back 20lbs of fat and I don't know where I lost my will power, let alone how to get it back.

Has anyone else been through this? Again, I know the answer is to just do it anyways, but how did you overcome this? I want this but I'm just so tired, weak and unmotivated anymore and I hate it. My sporadic workouts nowadays are a fraction of what I used to be able to put in.

Any suggestions or insight is appreciated. If nothing else, it's good to just get this off my chest.

Thanks,

J.

Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,859 Member
    It was something that was a matter of routine before. Once you're in a routine it's pretty easy to keep that train chugging down the track because it's just habit and a part of your normal day. It can be difficult to get back into a routine when you've been out of it for a long time.

    I had similar with COVID. Prior to COVID is was very into cycling endurance events and having a few of those per year kept me focused on my training, both on the bike and in the gym. With no events for almost 2 years and gym closures, everything slipped. I was still somewhat active, but in a much more recreational sense...which was actually a nice break as I was starting to grind a bit after 5 years of road cycling.

    Earlier this year I decided I needed to get back into the swing of things, but I struggled getting back into a routine habit. Everything was pretty hit or miss from January - April. I'd make it to the gym here and there and do some mountain biking on the weekends or go hiking or something but that was pretty much it. I decided in May that I needed something to push me back into training and into a routine...I'm a little burned out on road cycling events and the hours I was having to spend in the saddle so I didn't really have any strong desire to go there.

    A few weeks ago I was talking to a buddy of mine in LA who is a triathlete and he suggested maybe doing a sprint triathlon...something that will require some structure, but not be overly rigid. I'm on week 2 now and it's been fun to mix things up and the program I'm running has a strength element built in 2x per week so I don't really have any excuses to not get to the gym. It gets me out the door to go run a couple times per week...ride a couple times per week...and swim a couple times per week. I would wager that in a couple more weeks it will just be a habit...but for now it's a kick in the pants because I have to train or I'll be miserable for the event.
  • girlwithcurls2
    girlwithcurls2 Posts: 2,236 Member
    Ugh. I hear you. It's been hard to keep any kind of routine, and with added weight gain, the workouts are harder too. I have tried two things that seem to work for me:
    1. show up-just go to the gym (the pool, for me) because once I get there, the next step is to "do something." No workout has to be as intense, vigorous or long as it used to be. Where am I right now? Usually, if I can get there, I'll do something, and just showing up will help rebuild the habit that used to be there.
    2. mix it up-I have something different planned for each day. Some days are walks, some walk/run, swimming laps, water fitness, hikes... So I know what I need to do today because it's Friday (sustained cardio on the rowing machine and body weight routine). I'm not at all motivated to do it, but it's Friday, and that's what I do on Fridays. Again, working on building habits.

    Pre Covid, I could be as unmotivated and exhausted as anyone, but my muscle memory and brain fog took me straight to the gym/pool after work. Even if I wanted to go home, I'd find myself pulling into the parking lot. From there, just do something. Habits are key. Motivation is fleeting.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,744 Member
    I think this is not helpful, maybe, but what has kept me going during low periods is making up my mind that I need to think of workouts as non-negotiable, just a thing I do, not something that I make choices about - like washing dishes, doing laundry, paying bills, and other boring adult-y stuff.

    Unlike you, this is not a Covid-era thing for me: I've actually used exercise as a key way to create structure in my life while isolating. (I live alone, am older, have immune-compromised friends, so I've maybe been more isolate-y than average.) In general, as an enthusiast mainly for specific outdoor activities (rowing, cycling), I tend to go through low motivation every year during our long, snowy Winters.

    I've done better relying on this "it's just I thing I do" approach these last couple of years, because some other things (spin classes at the Y, for example) have dropped out of my rotation during the pandemic. I don't have much "motivation" - in the sense of pumping up my "I wanna" - but have been able to sell myself, somehow, on "it's what I do, 6 days a week, in this specific schedule".

    It's also helped me to participate in one of the "post your exercise" threads here, as an extra accountability to myself. There are a couple that I know of:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10705619/what-was-your-work-out-today#latest
    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/331789/tlfc-exercise-and-accountability-support#latest
    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10796095/what-youtube-workout-did-you-do-today#latest

    Another option would be things in the Challenges part of the Community. There are a bunch of activity-specific ones (running, cycling, mileage from mileage-y things, planking/isometrics, etc.) as well as some more generic one. I'm sure you know that Challenges is here:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/categories/challenges

    and an example of general ones would be:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10863186/24-hours-of-exercise-per-month-challenge-may-2022#latest

    As with so many things about weight loss and fitness, the key is finding something that's personalized to your individual psychology - I think of it as gaming my preferences/strengths/weaknesses, for fun and profit.

    I hope you can find a route that works for you!
  • metaphysicalstudio
    metaphysicalstudio Posts: 260 Member
    Actually, this sounds familiar. I know many people who feel as if they are in a rut since the pandemic. It has been a shift and like all shifts, those who can adapt with change have come out feeling most successful. Old routines may no longer resonate, but I think that people will begin to find new routines. Just give yourself the space to feel the effects that the pandemic has wrought.
  • bojaantje3822
    bojaantje3822 Posts: 94 Member
    edited May 17
    My personal approach was to find something to do near my home and to start with only twice a week. I used to be very active before the pandemic, both job-wise and exercise-wise, but I switched to a desk job and stopped exercising as soon as lockdown hit because my trainer was in his 70s so it was unsafe for him. I did nothing for a year and a half, save the occasional short walk around my neighbourhood (I also moved across the country).

    Going from 0 exercise to my pre-pandemic lifestyle while 22 lbs heavier seemed like a recipe for disaster so I started with twice a week.

    I noticed every month I got restless and wanted to go more often so on month 2 I went 3x a week, on month 3 4x and now I'm midway through month 9 and I like to do 5-7 trainings a week, with one mandatory day off. Without this mandatory day off I would probably live in the gym but I know it's good to take a break to let yourself recover.

    I also completely changed sports. Pre-pandemic I did taekwondo, hapkido and I walked and cycled a lot (I'm from the Netherlands so that's just transportation more than exercise) but now I do crossfit at a place that also offers olympic weightlifting and pilates, so I switch things up a bit.
    Edited to add: this is not only good to fight boredom, it also helps if you feel bad about your body and don't want your regular exercise buddies to see you like this. Not sure how relevant that is to your situation but I know this pandemic was hard on people's self esteem.

    My gym makes you be a member for 3 months once you sign up to ensure the creation of habits so I told myself if I hate it after 3 months, I'll just quit. I find that giving myself room to quit/fail makes my chance of success bigger. But I wholly agree with Ann above, you gotta figure out what works for you personally. I just wanted to share this to give you another idea to try.

    Also you mention struggling to pack your gym bag, what helps me is pre-packing so everything is ready when I want to go. Also shopping for cute new sportsleggings, especially colourful ones, helps with motivation. I am now known as that girl with the colourful gym clothes. Trust me, they exist even for big sizes (I wear a UK18-20/EU46-48/US14-16 in regular clothes and there are plenty of colourful leggings in my size and up, though I find that I need 1,5-2,5 sizes down for sports clothing at my pre-pandemic weight of 282lbs).

    Oh yeah, also an idea: experiment with different times. If you're used to going in the morning, try in the evening if life allows it and vice versa.

    Good luck, this is hard. I hope you find your solution.
  • Watching_The_Wheels
    Watching_The_Wheels Posts: 4,254 Member
    edited May 28
    I can relate to this issue. I’m not sure if it’s a mid to late 40’s thing but I struggle some days with motivation, maintaining focus and overall consistency. When I first got in this app about 8 years ago I lost about 30 pounds within a year and felt great. I’m just trying to get back to that feeling again but can’t quite get there yet. I’ll keep checking this thread for ideas…
  • TakeTheLongWayHome
    TakeTheLongWayHome Posts: 761 Member
    Didn’t feel like it, Did it anyway has been what I have been telling myself recently. I have been feeling slowed down and lethargic last couple of weeks, but I have built the habits up so I keep it moving. I wish you good luck in your journey.
  • peacefishy
    peacefishy Posts: 1 Member
    I can relate to this. I have only recently tried to get back to myself pre-covid. I will echo signing up for a small event or league. I am on a run committee and have just now started to train (a little late) but at least it will get me out there in my mind; and my body will follow!

    I also have been looking at what I filled my gym time with.....
    I have been spending a lot more time on other social media sites or scrolling in general instead of moving. Reclaiming that time in my day to refill with exercise has been helpful to restart!