Same Ol’, Same Ol’: The Insanity of the Rut

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (As a side note, when I was checking the quote I came across this post from a few years ago in Psychology Today which is basically a rant about just how wrong that quote is. But that is neither here nor there in regards to my post today.)


Actually, this quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and a few other people.

This post is about ruts. The ruts we all get into, whether in fitness, work, family, writing, or just about any life situation you can imagine.

I am reminded of my youngest son’s third grade teacher. My son was having a few problems grasping math and I had a conference with the teacher. He said to me, “I keep telling these kids how to do this but they just can’t get it right!” Seriously. Not only blaming the victims students, but obviously not figuring out that he was doing something wrong, and still expecting that one day “those kids” would get it. (By the way, I had him transferred out of that class the next day.)

Insanity2I have fallen into this cycle myself. As the manager of a fitness center, we frequently offer promotions and specials, both on training packages and spa treatments. I have been known to use the same special again, even if it didn’t do so well the first time around. I’ll blame things like marketing, not getting the word out, and sometimes that is true. But sometimes that particular promotion is just a loser. I need to accept that and try something else. Case in point was a promotion I ran during February a few years back. Actually for two or three Februarys in a row. A spa special with a chocolate twist (and chocolate scented oils). The problem was, while people love to eat chocolate, they don’t really want to smell like chocolate after their massage. Lesson (finally) learned.

Insanity3No matter on which side of the political spectrum you fall, we can all generally agree that our politicians must be insane, right? Otherwise why would the keep on trying the same old unsuccessful programs?

Of course I, as a fitness blogger, will relate this idea to training. Two thoughts come immediately to my mind.

Take a runner, who has done several marathons. She is comfortable with the online intermediate level training program she has used for the last few races. Her goal is to qualify for Boston, and based on her times in other races, she has the ability to do so. Yet, her times haven’t improved. Could it be that it is time to change her training strategy?

The other example is something I see year after year as a personal trainer. My clients come to me with specific goals, and I design a program that best suits their needs. However, once they leave the gym, they seem to lose their good common sense, and continue their unhealthy eating and drinking habits. I work in a country club, and my clients are faced daily with the temptation of parties, drinking, and eating out. They know what they must do to reach their goals, yet time after time, they succumb to temptation, then come back to  me with their sob story.

It is simple, in theory. If something is not working, we need to make a change. Whether it is insanity or just stubbornness and ignorance that keeps us on the wrong road, we need to realize that we are not moving toward our goal (which means we are either stagnant or moving away from that goal) and make the changes necessary to move in the right direction.

Change is good. And it is essential if what we are doing, whether it is fitness, running, or our jobs, is not working.

Have you ever caught yourself being “insane?” Continuing to do something even though it isn’t working? What did you do to change the cycle?

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  1. says

    Won’t lie to you, I am a bit INSANE right now……. I wish I could say that Thanksgiving and XMAS will help me get out of this insanity, but there is never a day off in my life. While I love it. I sometimes just WISH. One day, I could disconnect from the entire world. But. Nope. I cannot. **Trust me, very happy about all of my amazing opportunities, just a little tired right now, lol**

  2. says

    Honestly I think a lot of people want to change, but when it comes down to actually doing it, they just don’t want it bad enough. When I lost weight, SO many people came wanting to know the ‘secret’ but when they heard how I did it, they’d glaze over and slink away.
    You are so right about ruts though. I think it’s a natural inclination to slip into them.

  3. says

    Heck yeah I have fallen into ruts! And you are so right–it’s hard to break out but it is necessary. The one area I seem to have been good about embracing change is running. I have continually tried new things with the marathon and will continue to do so until I get it right!

    Love this post.
    misszippy recently posted..My Richmond Marathon “Plan”My Profile

  4. says

    Simple answer – yes I have but mostly with non fitness stuff! I just had a FB follower say she could not get back in the swing & was feeling bored – I suggested she try something new or find no traditional workout things she loves to do & go with that for now – she loved the suggestion! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Eating Disorders & A Cry for HelpMy Profile

  5. says

    Yes – been in ruts and looking back I can chalk at least some of them up to insanity!! I’ve even told my husband on occasion that I feel like we are in a relationship rut – not completely a bad thing just the fact that we are just so intent on all the things we do everyday that we don’t have much time to focus on growing our relationship.
    Kim recently posted..I Need a Boot Camp Alternative!!!My Profile

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