How to Stay in Shape (or Maintain Any Healthy Habit) when You’re a Busy Multipotentialite
Photo courtesy of Franck Michel.

How to Stay in Shape (or Maintain Any Healthy Habit) when You’re a Busy Multipotentialite

Written by Joanna James-Lynn

Topics: Health

Our focus here at Puttylike is on how multipotentiality affects our interests, careers, and confidence. But being this way can affect every area of our lives.

In the Puttytribe we’ve had discussions about everything from multipotentiality and food to multipotentiality and relationships. If you struggle to stick to one way of doing things, how do you maintain a healthy diet? How do you have a successful long-term, relationship?

Recently, puttypeep Heather asked the Tribe how other multipotentialites stay in shape. At first thought, fitness doesn’t seem to have anything to do with multipotentiality (unless fitness is one of your many passions, of course). But multipotentialites face a particular set of challenges when it comes to keeping fit and healthy.

When you’re working a full-time job, writing a novel, learning Japanese, starting a business on the side, and playing in a band, how do you find the time to work out as well?

When you’re someone who eventually gets bored of every activity she tries, how do you maintain healthy habits in the long run? Exercise isn’t something you can just do once and forget about; for it to be effective, you have to do it regularly and forever.

Today I’d like to share some of the pieces of crowdsourced advice the puttypeep in our community offered in response to this question. There’s plenty of advice out there on exercising when you’re short on time though, so we’ll focus on how to exercise when you get bored easily.

Although this advice is about exercise, a lot of these points can apply to other healthy habits you’re trying to adopt.

1) Accept that you’ll eventually get bored of every activity you try

Don’t start new activities with the hope that this one will be your “thing.” As much as your overexcited brain might believe it, you’re probably not going to go for a run every day for the rest of your life and you’re probably not going to have a career as a professional golfer. It’s possible, but unlikely.

Accept that each form of exercise will only be a part of your life for a while, and look out for patterns. Do you find yourself resenting your workout routine when you’ve mastered the basics or is it when you’ve been at it for a few months?

If you can spot the patterns, you can anticipate and prepare for dips in your interest levels. You can then sign up for a pay-as-you-go gym membership rather than a year-long contract, for example.

2) Switch things up regularly

When you feel yourself start to dread your morning swim or skip your weekly Zumba class, stop what you’re doing and do something else instead. There are three main ways to change what you’re doing:

  • Do something similar or that has a similar benefit (e.g. stick with cardio by switching from swimming to running)
  • Do the same activity in a different way or to get a different benefit (e.g. instead of lifting heavy weights for strength, do more reps with lower weights for size)
  • Do a completely different activity (e.g. play a team sport like hockey and then train for a solo endurance event like a half-marathon)

3) Give yourself an out

The quickest way to put a multipotentialite off an activity is by telling them they’ll have to do it for the rest of their life. We’re usually much more likely to succeed if we can see an end point, so it makes sense to build those in ahead of time.

Instead of hoping you’ll keep up your new running habit indefinitely, book yourself onto a 5k or a half-marathon that you can train for. Rather than lifting forever, decide on the squat PR you want to hit, and work towards that.

If you’re still interested in whatever you’re doing by the time you achieve your goal, you can always set another one. But if you’re sick of that activity, you won’t feel as guilty about quitting, because you’ll have achieved what you set out to do.

4) Do something different every day

We’re often told that the easiest way to build up healthy habits is by doing the same activities every day. But for most multipotentialites, that approach will be disastrous!

Instead, we need variety. So why not come up with a different activity to do each day or week? How much more fun would this kind of routine be?

  • Mondays: Dance class
  • Tuesdays: Bodyweight exercises
  • Wednesdays: Swimming
  • Thursdays: Exercise DVD
  • Fridays: Bike ride
  • Saturdays: Spin class
  • Sundays: Long walk

5) Learn while you work out

If you can, incorporate your other interests into your exercise regime by learning as you work out.

Puttypeep Doug recommends listening to podcasts and audio books while you’re walking or running, and reading blogs and books in between sets at the gym. I’ve even been known to do a little Codeacademy practice on my phone at the gym!

6) Get an accountability partner

Everyone knows it’s easier to do what you’ve said you’re going to do when someone else is holding you accountable. So find a workout buddy, hire a personal trainer, or bet your friend that you’ll stick to your plan.

Doug pointed out that you might be able to barter with someone in the Puttytribe to get personal trainer tips. Or you could sign up to be matched up with a Puttytribe accountability partner with similar goals.

7) Gamify your goals

Another way to make working out more enjoyable is by gamifying your routine. There are lots of pieces of technology you can use to track your movements, and once you’ve collected that data, you can focus on improving your stats.

I use a Fitbit to make sure I do 10,000 steps a day, and occasionally to compete with my friends who also have Fitbits to see who can do the most steps in a week. I can also see how many hours or minutes a day I’m active, and work to improve that number.

8) Pick a form of exercise that incorporates another interest of yours

If simpler forms of exercise like walking, running, and going to the gym sound boring to you, try to think of a way to combine your interests with movement. Denesa finds that dancing holds her interest because it’s a form of art as well as a form of exercise.

If you’re interested in geology, look into rock climbing. If you enjoy meditation, try yoga. If you’re an animal lover, sign up for horse riding lessons or start offering a dog-walking service. Get creative!

Find What Works for You

If you know you have a tendency to lose interest in working out after a while, stop fighting your multipotentiality and forcing yourself to stick to something you no longer enjoy. That approach will only leave you feeling guilty.

You’ll have to accept that this will probably mean you’ll make less progress in any one area, because of the constant stopping and starting. But if it means you keep exercising regularly, that’s a small price to pay.

Accept that if you want to maintain an exercise regimen, you’re going to need to incorporate your other interests into your fitness routine, shake things up every now and then, and get some support from other people – perhaps even other multipotentialites!

I hope this advice helps you to stay in shape and enjoy doing so! Thank you to Heather for bringing up this topic in the Puttytribe, and thanks as well to the puttypeep who contributed their advice.

Do you have a question you’re dying to ask your multipotentialite peers? Could you use some support as you build a life around your many interests? Check out the Puttytribe — our safe, supportive, magical community of multipotentialites.

Your Turn

How do you keep fit? Do you have any advice for other multipotentialites who struggle to keep up healthy habits? Share them in the comments below.

jo_authorbioJoanna James-Lynn is a virtual assistant, podcaster, blogger, and writer. She’s fascinated by personality, identity, and self-awareness – themes she explores in her podcast, Introspectology, on her blog, and in the books she writes. Find out more about her projects at JoannaJamesLynn.com or follow her on Twitter @joannajameslynn.

51 Comments

  1. Linda Ursin says:

    I’m one of those who haven’t found a fun way to get fit that my body is able to do. In addition to being a multipod, I also have chronic pain in multiple joints and my back, so there are lots of fun things I can’t do anymore.

    Any suggestions that would work for someone bored by most forms of exercise would be great. Maybe there’s a way to combine art with exercise?

    • Charlie says:

      Linda,

      Can you swim, or if not aqua aerobics? That could be more supportive for your joints. I have chronic knee pain and swimming is ok for that. Also aqua jogging – not v exciting but you could enlist a friend for encouragement.

      Charlie

    • Karen Joslin says:

      Linda, it sounds like you need to try gentle types of exercise. Yoga, tai chi, pilates, or even just walking might work for you.

      Yoga can range a lot in intensity, though, so you’d need to do some research on the classes offered in your area to find the right fit. If you’d prefer a home workout, my yoga teacher has a DVD that you might like, here: http://www.donnisorrell.com/shop/order-online/ Donni also has medical issues (back, shoulders, arthritis), so her class is geared toward people who need a gentle workout.

      Pilates was originally created to rehabilitate injured ballet dancers. I’ve had a Pilates Performer machine since sometime in the late 1990s, and I still use it at least once a week. There are classes, too, though.

      If all else fails, though, try walking someplace you find inspiring. You could bring small, portable art supplies with you and sketch or paint interesting things you see along the way. I sometimes bring my camera with me on walks, and I also often get great ideas for whatever projects I’m working on. If your art supplies are too bulky, you could bring a smart phone and photograph things you’d like to turn into an art project later. You could also collect found objects for mixed media pieces, or record video or audio for an art installation.

      Portable exercise equipment, like gliders or stair-steppers, are another option. I use my glider while I’m watching t.v. in the evenings or if I’m watching a webinar that doesn’t require too much note-taking. It folds up and stores in the closet, which is nice. I do find that the glider is pretty boring, but at least I’m watching t.v. while I’m on it. I keep myself motivated by setting goals for each session – either time or calories burned.

      Good luck!

  2. Casey says:

    I would add that sports like rock climbing, dancing, gymnastics, martial arts, etc don’t get old as quickly as typical grind, recover, and repeat workouts. There’s much more depth to those sports than just increasing the intensity or duration of the workout. I’ve been climbing for five years and I still feel like a novice with the amount that I have left to learn, and it helps that there are several different varieties of climbing (just as there are different varieties of things like dance, gymnastics, and so on).

  3. Gabi says:

    Yes! I do yoga occasionally, listen to motivational speakers and learning podcasts while lifting weights, run on my treadmill, go walking, swimming, snowshoeing, and hiking. Used to play tennis, racquetball, badminton, rock climber(and teacher), lifeguard(mostly for easy access to a pool), triathlon(perfect multipassionate sport), spinning classes, and some others I have probably forgotten. I never thought of my fitness routine as multi-passionate, but there it is!

    • Yeah, it’s kind of funny when you realise it applies to other parts of your life. My eating habits are kind of like that too!

      And you just made me realise that I was totally like this as a child. I did pretty much every type of sport going – swimming, horse riding, netball, cricket, athletics, gymnastics, dancing…!

      • Sebastian says:

        as you talk about on this post, i know sometimes people got bored or lose interest in some body exercising activities, i personally recommend aerial circus disciplines and as an extra complement yoga. why?
        i understand perfectly as a self-identified multi-potentialite, that being one drag you to a constant distracted state of mind jaja, so… i think that the level of exigence and the posibility to get near fantastica incredible amazing people whit the same adjectives to describe their habilities, got you in a so enjoyable experience of training and your, also the difficulty of the acrobacies and being on air hanging off on parts of your body you would never imagine before, makes you want to have funj and take a step forward over your fears, and that makes a multipotentialite happy…being surprised by something that you wouldn´t think you were able to do, and be constantly surprised cause this disciplines have no limits if you see some videos on youtube , there is so much to learn.

  4. Denise says:

    I’m a walker/hiker and have been for, well, most of my life. After reading this article, I can honestly say it’s the one activity that never bores me. How much walking I do depends on the neighborhood (I consider walking on a treadmill in a gym tedious and “walking to nowhere”). If I like the neighborhood, I’ll explore more locally. Since I’m not impressed with the area in which I currently live, I get out hiking more and explore the nature and landscape that way. But it’s the one thing I’m never bored with – all I do is change up the trails I take and it keeps it interesting. I don’t “plug in” while walking/hiking as it is my way to re-connect with myself and the earth/nature’s rhythm, which decompresses me. I’ve learned to take in the scents, sights, and sounds – which differ day to day – so it’s always a new discovery, of sorts. I worked out in a gym for over 10 years – mainly because I like the structure it provided (as well as the physical benefits) and the social aspect (it’s where I met most of my friends). Played tennis for 21 years; swimming, biking, racquetball, baseball, softball, diving, gymnastics – I’ve experienced multiple ways to move my body and lift my spirit. I rarely go for what’s “in” – like Zumba or Tai Bo – I like to keep it simple and natural. My next goal is some form of internal martial art (aikido, qi gong, etc.) because I’ve reached an age (way over forty) where I’m more concerned with the internal/spiritual aspect of my workouts and how that translates to the rest of my life/careers.

    • I find that walking is also good for my mental health. It’s a great opportunity to process your thoughts and calm down a bit. :)

    • Amy says:

      I agree, Denise. I live in a rural coastal area and get bored walking the same ol’ neighborhoods. I even get bored walking our beautiful beaches (am I the only one who feels that way?)
      Taking myself out to the woods & trails & ponds of our local state park or any nearby village with shops & things to see keeps my mind stimulated enough so that I don’t even realize I’m “exercising”.

  5. Charlie says:

    Agree with Gabi that triathlon and any kind of multisport (duathlon, biathlon for wintersports, adventure racing, modern pentathlon) are perfect for multipotentialites. Only challenge is if you get addicted, is fitting in all the other non-sporting passions!

    • Gabi says:

      Charlie, I agree! When I was actively triathaloning (is that a word?), nine workouts per week left little time for much else! I even have these socks from those days that say, Run, Bike, Swim, Eat, Sleep, Train. It was a very obsessive thing but I eventually realized that I didn’t really like the bike part so I gave it up (at least the racing kind). Now I have time for yoga and the rest of my life!

    • So many options! :D

  6. Liz says:

    I find that incorporating biking in whenever I can, just to get places, makes me have at least one exercise that I can stick to. I don’t even consider it exercise, and that is how I can keep doing it, because I don’t Have to, Forever. But it helps to have bike paths everywhere.

  7. Femmy says:

    What a great article!!!! I never heard of this suggestion before. Such great ideas.

    And.

    It makes me feel better about myself. As if I were given permission to finally do what comes naturally.

    Thank you.

    I am going to look for yoga near me.

    mwah

  8. Rachel says:

    I set goals too. Small ones like going to 14 spin classes or trying a good month of a particular exercise. I skip back and forth between exercises and it really is only for an hour a day which I can live with -also change the time of day I exercise – sometimes at lunch, sometimes morning, sometimes evening – never the same time everyday.
    I have a good group of friends I’ve made at the gym. I get to know everyone I can – eventually they find out how much stuff I get up to and I get into all sorts of new initiatives – as is my want!
    I also make commitments to other people – like agreeing to walk a group of kids to school with my own once a week -thats always interesting!

    • Ooh, I like those goals! Maybe I’ll try something like that. I definitely get fed up of knowing I have to lift weights every single week for ever and ever…!

  9. Karen says:

    With me, it’s time. I’m up at 5:30am to get to the day job as I have a long commute. I write on the train going in, catch up on reading or play a few games coming home. I work in IT and rarely get more than 30 minutes for lunch – just enough time to eat and read a bit. Get home about 7:00pm and make dinner, get things ready for the next day and go to bed! I try to fit in fifteen minutes of guitar but I’m so tired by the time I get home, I often skip that. I’ve tried getting up earlier but I struggle to get up at at 5:30am as I’m by nature a night owl. Exercise when I come home just makes it harder for me to go to sleep (which is already tricky with the night owl thing).

    I also used to like exercise a lot more but now I’m getting older and have osteoarthritis in my knees and toes, and a chronic rotator cuff issue in my right shoulder, most exercise is painful. I can no longer do ballet or jazz, run, martial arts – all things I used to enjoy. Even walking is painful at times. So I’m really struggling to find something I love doing.

    I went to yoga therapy for a while (can’t do a normal yoga class) but got bored with that, did tai chi and aqua aerobics for a while but those classes closed down. I’m not earning enough anymore to afford a gym but I have kettle bells and weights at home plus a treadmill – I use these on the weekends but weekdays? Nope!

  10. Janice Serrano says:

    Walking backwards, believe it or not, is a great exercise, variation on the theme of waking and is great for your joints and back and a great form of meditation to boot.

    Google it and you will find many article about its benefits.

    I did it spontaneously one day while walking on a bike/pedestrian path by the water while watching the sun set because I noticed that by walking forward, I couldn’t continue to view the sun – so I turned around. ;-)

    I noticed right away the difference in my mind and body (it was great) and it burns a lot more calories than waking forward by the way (a fact I found out after I googled it).

    You can even jog/run backwards if you want!

    Next, check out Miranda Esmond White on YouTube.

    Her series is called ‘Classical Stretch’ and ‘Aging Backwards.’

    I find her insight profound in that she says that fitness is in its infancy and we are still learning things that change our outlook.

    For instance, she said and I had already realized that resistance/weight training is great, but it compresses the joints – so you have to ‘decompress’ them with other forms of exercise, stretching being chief among them.

    Also, check out ‘Foot Fitness’ by Stacey Lei Krauss on YouTube.

    Her approach is unique and I sought it out after I realized how much pressure and stress I put on my feet in doing resistance training in the gym.

    She also articulated something I had experienced for myself and wondered about: how come my feet sometimes ached even though I used high support footwear (answer: because they immobilize the small muscle movements of the foot) and her videos work on that.

    Along those lines, also check out ‘ballet foot exercises’ on YouTube.

    There is some great stuff out there, you just have to find it. ;-)

    Star with stretching exercises and work your way forward from there, with whatever form of exercise suits you.

    Finally, ALWAYS listen to your body as it is your personal expert and will never steer you wrong.

    And slow down to power up. You have to and it really helps for focus.

    Good luck!

  11. Shell says:

    I’m quite a bit of an Introvert. I can be bored easily and I don’t like exercising around other people. I learned to love You Tube videos! There are so many different kinds of exercise videos you can watch for free! Yoga, Pillates, Kick boxing, HITT, dancing, aerobics,all kinds of cardio, etc. . Many people have their on channels and download new videos often. I love it! Also, I like to hit some trails by myself (in realatively busy parks) or just take a walk, if it’s nice out. I also clean houses for a living. If you want a cheap, good workout, just deep clean your house or someone else’s!;).

    • I did some workout videos for a while. I never thought they’d be my kind of thing, but they can be kind of fun and yes, you don’t have to see anyone else! :D

  12. Marijke says:

    I highly recommend following Cassey Ho’s Blogilates workout calendar. You exercise along with 3 to 5 workout videos everyday, focusing on different body parts every day. It also comes with an app, where you can check off the workouts you have done. It’s mostly pilates, sometimes with some cardio involved.

    I did the beginners workout month calendar and sticked with it the whole month and felt stronger en energetic! Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with the regular workout month calendar, so I’m switching back to doing the beginners calendar again. When that gets easy, I’ll give the regular calendar a shot again.

    And: it costs you nothing. And you only need a mat. Or your carpet.

    Marijke

  13. Arni says:

    I tried a bit of everything and enjoyed them (Zumba, belly dancing, weight training at the gym etc) but due to our nomadic lifestyle, I had to switch to activities I can consistently do anywhere. The BBG workout worked well for me because of the results I got. It inspired me to finish it till Week 12. Walking and hiking in nature is something I absolutely love and Jiwok got me to love running due to its tailored progressive coaching. Each run was nevet boring. Having a goal ahead by signing up in a 10k race definitely motivated me to run. For now walking is part of my daily routine.

  14. Hemant Verma says:

    With a weight of 90 kgs this advice is what I actually needed. :)

  15. Marc Copes says:

    I found accountability is what works best for me! Telling someone what I’m going to do, and having to admit if I did or didn’t do it. I hate admitting when I fail.

    Last year I setup an experiment with a few of my friends (coincidentally similar to what Emilie blogged about, but slightly different). We set a weekly goal of how many times we’d each exercise a week, and put money on the line. We confirmed when we completed each session, and if after 10 weeks we succeeded, we got the money back. Otherwise I donated it to charity :)

    It was a neat little twist, and everyone loved it (and found it very beneficial). Anyways, inspired by this multipotentialite movement, I decided to set it up a bit more officially and opened it up as a side project to anyone who’d like to give it a try and join us :) http://poochpatrol.fitness/challenge/

    • Awesome! Accountability is a big one for me too. I think a lot of it comes down to figuring out how you work and can motivate yourself. If you haven’t come across it already, look up Pam Slim’s four categories. I can’t remember what they are exactly, but obliger is one of them. :)

  16. Karen says:

    How about CrossFit. Each workout of the day is completely different – & always challenging- so no chance to get bored.

  17. Deb says:

    Loved the article and suggestions, found them inspiring. For a whole variety of reasons, exercise has always been a “dirty” word. That was until last year when I did an online course by Maggie Wilde, The Potentialist, in her Emotional Eating Soulutions Course and things changed dramatically. It took 12 weeks for me to rewire my brain to enjoy movement and now I can’t imagine my life without exercise every day.

    A few key points included:
    1. change the word exercise to movement as the “e” word can hold lots of negative feelings/emotions associated with it
    2. Do what is fun to you, walk the dog, dance around the house to your favourite song, walk in nature ..you do not have to spend hours doing something because you feel you should or have too. In fact that is counterproductive as it produces cortisol, the belly fat hormone.
    3. Start with small achievable tasks like taking the washing to the line 1 item at a time, things upstairs in your house 1 at a time rather than in one go, all these little things add up, then gradually add things in that you enjoy. It gets easier day by day
    4. Be kind to yourself, beating yourself up for not doing movement today is counterproductive. Get back on track and do it the next day. Once you start doing it and enjoying it, your brain likes it and starts seeking it.
    5. The most powerful thing that resonated with me was “you were born to move” , when I think about babies, small children I remember the joy, sense of adventure, wonder and fearless way that they move and explore their world. As adults we put rules, perceptions, beliefs, experiences etc around movement and feel that we can’t do it, I’m not fit/good enough, it will hurt etc. there is always a way to enjoy moving your body, you have to want to find it and have fun doing it.

    Hope that gives another perspective, this course changed my life, I lost 30kgs and certainly went from a coach potato to someone who loves to walk at least an hour twice a day and I am always looking for more ways to Move It!

  18. Sky pilot 172 says:

    Great article. Also loved reading the comments, like the one from ‘Deb’ above. I’ve been challenged by a stressful toxic work environment as well as some injuries recently that led to depression. Walking at night, talking with friends on my cell, getting more ‘Fitbit’ points really helped. Exploring in nature during the day and something called Geocaching helped get me to new areas. A old friend met up with me and we walked along rivers
    And the ocean front. I’ve also tried to find great parks, and wilderness areas – then shared them with my family. Take care

  19. Annah says:

    Loved the article and the comments!

    I’ve tried over and over to work out at a gym. It usually lasted a couple of weeks, then I found myself looking for excuses not to go. I tried different gyms till I found out I didn’t like the routine and that pressure on having an athletic body. So I started taking dance classes and I keep moving on from times to times: ballet, street dance, rockabilly, and now belly dance. When I get tired I’ll probably look for another style :)

    • This is perfect! Dance isn’t for me, but I love the idea that you can stick with one thing but switch styles to essentially start something new at the same time.

  20. Lily says:

    My solution to the problem is horseback riding, which grew into all things horse. Excellent aerobic exercise. Emotional relaxation. Being out in nature. Weight lifting (bails, feeds, stall cleaning). Type of contact and relationship with these big big animals that no human is capable of providing. Constant involvement of left and right brains capabilities. Being in the moment. You name it. To be a great rider and horsewoman you have to dive into anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, ethology, etc. One area of interest – lifelong adventure, due to sheer volume of information, knowledge and skill that goes into simple pleasure riding. I’ve taken quite a bit of different activities, in parallel, and let me tell you – nothing compares to riding in mental, emotional, physical preparation for a huge variety of stuff, starting from people management to dance. You gotta fall in love with horses for it to work for you though :)