Have you ever gone through periods of inactivity? Whether due to injury, pregnancy, relocation, job loss, or simply the struggles of life, you’ve likely gone through a span of time without exercising. For most of you (including me), it is the most difficult to get moving again after stagnant times.
For nearly 2 months this winter (due to relocation, financial changes, and the plain ol’ cold) I stopped working out. 2 weeks ago, with summer looming and my energy at an all-time low, I knew it was time to get moving again. I enlisted the help from friends, and I’ve been crushing it at the gym, on the trail, and in the yoga studio. Let me tell you how I got moving again and how you can too.
Stirring Up Motivation to Begin Again (ugh)
Square 1 kinda sucks, especially for those of us who’ve previously been at square 5. Starting over can feel like regression. The first few times you exercise after sitting dormant for a while, you’re likely to feel bummed out rather than invigorated. You’ll remember how much easier this used to be, and you’ll think how hard it’s going to be to return to your former fit state.
1. Develop Appreciation ~ Thank yourself for getting up and moving no matter how short the run or how pitiful the size of weights. Appreciate your body, no matter how pooped or sluggish it feels. You’re moving! This is a step forward. Any and all steps forward are positive. Tell yourself “I’m strong” and when the workout feels especially difficult, think of someone who inspires you (even yourself) and push on.
2. Grab a Friend ~ This is the best advice I could possibly give. Friends keep you accountable. If you schedule a 7:00am run, you’re not going to hit the snooze button, because you’d be letting your friend down. And don’t worry if you think your friend is fitter or stronger than you. In fact, these are the best friends to enlist. They likely already have a fitness routine that you can join. And even if you lag way behind on the run or can’t lift her size weights, you are still out there moving your body. Thank yourself and thank your friend.
3. Gear Up ~ Getting new gear is the best way to motivate me! I love all the bright colors and stretchy fabrics. It may seem trivial or silly, but investing in good gear is vital to fitness performance. And when you’re lacking motivation, knowing you get to sport your new trail-running shoes or breathable jacket may just be the thing to get you moving.
4. Adopt Motivating Mantras ~ Some of my favorite are:
“A year from now, I’ll have wish I started today.”
“Every journey begins with a single step.”
“It’s the start that stops most people.”
“Strive for progress, not perfection.”
“I’M THE SHIT!”
(This one is particularly effective.)
5. Load Up on Food ~ Nothing motivates me more than the idea of a big, delicious meal. I love working out first thing in the morning and then sitting down to a huge plate of food. I also love treating myself to a meal out with my workout buddies. When I’m crushing it hard at the gym, I happily eat food instead of fearing it. I don’t worry if I’m eating too much or too often. I just eat. And I love it. That being said, no amount of refined sugars or processed food products is ever good. Avoid these at all costs.
Maintaining the Good Mojo
Okay, so you’ve gotten off the couch or out of the computer chair twice this week. Congrats! But how do you maintain that great energy to avoid falling off the bandwagon again?
1. Don’t Over-Train ~ After the first week of being back in the game, you’ll likely feel a surge of energy and adrenaline. It will seem very tempting to lift weights a little too heavy for you or to workout too many days in a row. This is a mistake. You may burn out and revert back to your couch potato ways, or you could injure yourself forcing you back to the bench. Just be the turtle–slow and steady wins the race.
2. Get Enough Sleep….Consistently ~ We understand this is difficult for families with young children or those with high-stress jobs. But if you are returning to fitness after a stint away, sleep is more vital than ever for recovery. Without adequate sleep, you are fatiguing your muscles which will add stress and increase your chance of injury. Whatever you need to do, try to prioritize a good night’s rest, every night.
3. Drank That Water ~ It’s been said. You’ve heard it before. Now, you’ll hear it again. Drank, drank, drank that water. This is especially important after exercising as your body requires water to repair muscles. Drinking water is also refreshing and your body loves it and keeps you hydrated for fitness and (I’m trying to convince myself of this as I have a hard time drinking water…).
4. Leave Motivating Notes & Reminders ~ I like to leave reminders to myself around my house and on my desktop (where, let’s be honest, I spend most of my time). Whether I’m reminding myself to “think before you eat” when I open the fridge or to “appreciate the things you can’t see” when I’m looking in the mirror, these little messages help keep me on point. It’s all too easy to fall victim to the nasty voice in the back of your head that attempts to sabotage you.
5. Set a Schedule ~ Write it down, type it out, and pin it up. Setting a schedule helps keep you on track and forces you to literally pencil in your workouts. This is also the time when you cross schedule with your workout buddy and pencil her in too. Whoever sees your schedule can help keep you accountable, and you’ll be more mentally prepared if you know a workout is coming.
Motivation for Life
Hit your stride with your fitness regime, and you’ll easily develop habits to last a lifetime.
1. The 80/20 Rule ~ I know it seems simple, and you’ve likely heard it before, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Eat clean foods and exercise regularly 80% of the time and allow yourself freedom to indulge 20% of the time. This equation is realistic and sustainable and allows you to still relish in life’s abundance.
2. Get to Know Yourself ~ How does your body feel when you are hurt? Mad? Happy? Bored? How do you respond to emotional stress? Too often we respond to emotional stress with poor diet and exercise choices. And a healthy lifestyle is made up of the thousand little choices we make each day. By getting to know yourself, you can become more aware of each decision you make, and eventually, commit to healthy choices daily.
3. Write it Down (or Type it Out) ~ Keeping a log of your fitness regime and your diet is a great way to keep yourself in line. This might feel tedious, but eventually the practice will become habit. Write down your workout including reps, size weights, heart rate, and time spent. Not only will you have an awesome log of all your workouts, but you’ll be able to exactly track your progress. And when you write down what you ate, it forces you to remember all those bites (that definitely count) standing at the fridge or that unexpected jelly donut you had in the work breakroom. At a certain point you’ll likely outgrow this practice, but it’s great to keep you on point as you return to wellness.
4. Get a Dog ~ Dogs are awesome for increasing activity. They always want to run and play and fetch and swim. They’ll get you up and outdoors every day, and they’ll always be able to outrun you.
5. Join an Adult League ~ If you played sports when you were young, why wouldn’t you play as an adult? Adult leagues are the most fun you’ll have in your day. You’ll get great exercise at practice and games, you’ll build comradery with your teammates, and maybe you’ll even score a new workout buddy or two.