It has happened to all of us – and often before we even realize it. One week you miss your workouts due to a busy schedule, and then the next week you skip because you don’t feel well. Before you know it, a month has passed by and your laces haven’t seen any action. Months may even turn into years. Once you stop fitting exercise into your life, it may seem hard to find time for it again. You may not remember how you ever found time for it in the first place. But don’t throw in the towel! You can start again and find the time. Here are some tips to get you going again:
1) Stop beating yourself up for quitting – Just Start! Forget about the lost days and months – you can’t get them back, but you can change the days to come. And you are not as far gone as you think. All that earlier work created a foundation that is waiting to be drawn out. Muscles do have memory.
2) Define and write down your WHY. There will be days when you are tired and not in the mood, so it helps to have something powerful to remind you why you started in the first place. It should be something motivating that stirs an emotional reaction, and probably needs to be more powerful than just fitting into those skinny jeans (although that can be part of the reason!). Think of your life long wellness and how exercise can lead to a healthy and longer life.
3) Write down your goals. Studies have shown that people who write down their goals are much more likely to obtain them. Just ensure that they are realistic and achievable. When you first set a goal, you’re full of energy and completely motivated, but over time those feelings can wane and your overzealousness can push you to do too much too soon. The fix is to define a progressive set of goals that build on one another to help propel you toward that big goal. Breaking a big goal into smaller, realistic goals can help you both mentally and physically. For example, start with weekly goals such as a certain number of visits to the gym or minutes of exercise a day, rather than a six month goal of losing 40 pounds.
4) Try something new. This is especially helpful if boredom was one of the reasons that you fell off the wagon in the first place. Today’s fitness options are varied and almost limitless. In most areas, you can choose among boot camps, CrossFit, Zumba, kick boxing, Bar Method, spinning, yoga and running groups, as well as many other options. If you want to start out at home, there is an excellent supply of home DVD videos. If you really need to be accountable to someone, consider hiring a personal trainer.
5) Join a challenge! These are not hard to find. Look for local 5K runs or short distance triathlons. You can check out your gym for contests and even workplaces are getting into the game as they see the benefits of healthy employees. These will require determination and hard work, but you will be surprised how much fun you have and how many people you meet.
6) Look beyond the scale. If weight loss is your main goal, don’t rely entirely on the numbers of the scale. It is common for exercisers to lose fat and gain muscle without a change in body weight, so it is important to look beyond the scale. Notice how your clothes fit and how your body feels stronger. You should also feel your increased energy level and overall better mood, as exercise has been proven to boost both of these.
Falling off the wagon happens to everyone. Stop worrying about what happened in the past and look forward. The first step back on is the hardest and requires motivation, but soon it will become habit and that will keep you going.