The Secrets of Success: Mix It Up to Keep It Off

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We've already learned how important exercise is to weight-loss success. But what kind of exercise helps the most? Is any one form of cardio or strength-training better than another? We recently survey our most successful members--people who reached their goal weights or were still going strong after losing at least 100 pounds--to find out. We compiled all of their tactics in our best-selling book, The Spark, but we're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #8: Mix It Up to Keep It Off.
Successful members exercised at home, outside, in the gym, with home equipment or home DVDs, with workout groups or buddies, varying their routines and keeping it fun so that they were more likely to keep going. So how does workout variety help you lose weight?

Two ways. First, it's the best antidote to exercise boredom. I probably don't need to tell you that doing the same old workout day in and day out can become monotonous. And when you're bored with exercise, you're more likely to drudge through it (without working to your full potential) and more likely to make excuses. After all, if your workout isn't as fun or exciting, as the other parts of your life, why bother? This goes hand in hand with another secret we already talked about: making fitness fun. I love to run (it wasn't always that way), but I make it a point to change up my route, music, distance, pace and intensity from day to day to keep the activity fresh and interesting. That means you're more likely to stick with it instead of making excuses to avoid it.

The second reason mixing it up really helps is that it keeps your body guessing. When an exercise or movement is new, your body has to work hard to master it by sending signals to engage more muscle fibers, including ones that were once dormant. This is one reason why most exercise newbies experience some amazing results soon after starting a workout program. But over time, your body adapts to your routine. Those smart muscles of yours know exactly what's coming and they begin to work out as efficiently as possible, which means you're actually working less intensely than before and burning fewer calories. All that adds up to one thing: the dreaded plateau. But my mixing things up, trying new exercises and changing your routine, you keep your body guessing—and burning more calories as a result. That means better weight loss and more fitness improvements.

As easy as it is for me to tell you to mix things up, most people don't know exactly how to do that. Well you are in luck because the following SparkPeople resources will show you how.
Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15). For more secrets to success, plus a 28-day jumpstart program you won't find anywhere else, read The Spark.

How do you mix things up? Has it made a difference in your mental and physical response to exercise?

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While I do have a standard workout I do each week, I do like mixing up the routine to keep things fresh. Some days I might add some stability ball or BOSU exercises. Other days I might skip exercises in favor of others.

Great blog, so true- I get bored easily so mixing it up is a must!! Im trying a new yoga class this week and am excited about it! Report
This is very timely!! I have relied so long on just walking, and am trying to incoroporate strength training, and some workout DVD's. Maybe even the TreadMill, which I find boring, but it's good for interval training. I have even signed up for a water aerobics class. My biggest challenge is getting up in the am to workout! I work at 6:30 a.m., so really need to be up and exercising my 4:30 a.m. It's so easy to put that off, but really is the best time in my day to get a good workout. Anyone else workout this early???? Report
Timely article! I've lost 5 lbs since I started by am realizing that if I want to party a little on the weekends and still be successful at the weight loss and health gain I'm going to have to renew my commitment to exercise, specially cardio. My granddaughter talked me into skating 2X per week; the arena is a block from my house and a block from her school so it worked really well. Then she broke a bone in her foot and my motivation waned. I started back on the ice on my own last week and I plan to walk 3.5 KM on pleasant days and have a Tae-Bo video for nasty weather. I'm plan to do cardio every day 'cept Sundays. I'll alternate Yoga and strength exercises from a book I've had for ages and enjoy using when I talk myself into it. I am participating in Dragon Boat races in June so I need to strengthen and tone. I need Yoga cause my flexibility sucks. Time to log out and lace up my runners. Get them boots walkin'! Report
I love mixing things up. I anticipate by summer time I will be doing all of the following:

Cycling, running, softball, Zumba, tennis, hiking, swimming and walking. Not to mention I will be doing strength training (and perhaps some circuit training too). Keeping your body primed for many different sports really helps round out your athletic ability in them all! Report
Mixing it up definitely keeps the boredom at bay. My favorite mixers are running, cycling, and yoga. Switching the time of day that I exercise helps, too. Report
I've also been trying to mix it up as I can. Right now, I'm swimming, stationary bike, circuit training(like Curves equipment), Hoist machines for strength training, and walking. I like water aerobics when I can get there, but regular aerobics class wasn't for me. Just got to keep trying new things. Report
I was just telling my sister yesterday that mixing it up makes a HUGE difference in the ability to stick with exercise, especially if you are not an exercise fan. She is going to try that. Report
It's definately made a difference to me. I mix things up by running a few days a week, taking classes at the gym like boxing. I also do Jillian Michaels DVDs at home as well, and have started more weight lifting, at home, and at the gym. I have always liked variety, & try to vary my routine every so often. Report
It may be tangentially out of "lack" ... of ability in only one specific direction ... don't have the best attention span, I am not young either, and tend to have, in maintenance phase, one of those "don't judge a book by its cover" bodies, but variety keeps my confidence levels sky-high as well as defeats boredom: yoga classes by their very (even commercial) nature knock me down a peg, walking lifts my confidence back up, and Pilates blends keep it all balanced and together.

Incidentally, it's the best "antidote to exercise boredom", not anecdote ... although I am full of short, pithy anecdotes, so shut me up already! Report
Fantastic Blog! I can't wait to start 'mixing things up!' Report
I have some questions. I have been a heavy exerciser for a while. Unfortunly, I started having trouble with my knee and can't exercise like I use too. I use to jogg and walk for 4-5 Miles a day and go to the gym everyday. But now due to pain in my knee I can't do that anymore. It is so frustrating. I am at a pleateu and don't want to budge. I still walk but not as far and I can't jogg like I use too. I still go to the gym also. It is not as intense as it use to be. I am so frustrated at myself and my body. Just won't go anywhere anymore. Need advice on what to do now. Since I can't exercise as intense to lose like I was. Report
This is a great article. I have been doing the same thing for my morning workout. Time to mix it up. Report
I use my treadmill 3x per week - with a different focus for each day. Monday is 'incline' day; Wednesday is 'speed' day' & Friday is a bit of a mix of both. Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday I use my Wii 'My Fitness Coach' runs a different routine every time I use it...with a different focus each time - flexibility, upper body, lower body & core.

Sunday is my day of 'rest'...let my body recuperate a little before I get back at 'it' on Monday!

Keeps me working & Mondays aren't that tough - I have energy to start my week & my workouts. Report
great blog!!! Report
New shoes, music and clothing or gadget sometimes works for me when my will is waning.... Report
I do at least two differant workouts Report
I change my workouts every month to challenge my body and prevent boredom. So far, it's been working! Report
I suspect mixing it up is an 'antidote' not an 'anecdote'... couldn't resist being the grammar police.

It does work! Report
I will start "mixing things up!" I am not really bored with what I do but maybe I need "to keep my body guessing." Thanks! Report