Life got in the way and you fell away from your fitness routine; it’s no big deal. Many of us have been there before (maybe especially around the holidays), but as long as you’re aware of what’s happened and are ready to head in the right direction again you’ve got nothing to worry about. To find out exactly what steps you need to take to reset your fitness regimen, we asked two fitness experts, Matt Powell, founder of the Pramek training system and Rachael Parker, a certified Fitness Instructor and Activeism Specialist, to share their best advice. From setting new goals and taking each day one step at a time, together they shared the following ten tips.
“Really look at what happened,” says Powell. “Was it the time commitment? Were you too sore too often? Did something happen in your life that cut into your time? Figure out the 'excuse' you gave yourself every day and make note of it.” Identifying what your biggest obstacle was in the past will be the first and most important step to overcoming it this time around.
After you figure out why it was you stopped in the first place, Powell suggests making a small habit change around that particular part of your routine. “Sometimes one change, like getting up early or adjusting your workout so you won’t be too sore afterwards, can help you eliminate potential excuses,” he said.
“Decide which is easier for your goals—diet or workout,” says Powell. “Both can help you achieve your goals, but sometimes one is easier than the other. If you can't get to the gym as often as you want, focus on dietary changes. If you can't get your diet to where you want (for example, if you're a new mother or a traveling salesman) focus on your workouts to make up for the diet.” Implement one part of the equation in your daily routine slowly and when you feel comfortable and consistent, then add the other.
Powell suggests taking up an activity that is fitness related and fun. “Many times we stop working out simply because we are bored," he said. "By making an aspect of your workout a hobby, or finding a new kind of workout, you can break the monotony.”
“Instead of taking drastic measures to get back to where you once were—planning endless time at the gym and cutting out all the food you like—create a realistic workout goal of three to four days a week and a sustainable eating plan that includes your favorite treat once a week,” says Parker.
“Not being able to jump in where you left off can be discouraging and makes it easy to quit,” Parker explains. “Set reasonable expectations based on how long you’ve been away. Start small and then push yourself to work up to and beyond where you were before.”
Parker says that having a solid plan is an important part of staying on track. “At the start of each week write out your schedule for the next seven days,” she said. “Include which days you’ll work out, what you’ll focus on—cardio, strength training, etc.—and your healthy meal and snack options for each day.”
“Sharing your weekly goals and asking for follow up will help solidify your commitment,” says Parker. “Find a friend who’s also trying to get back to it—or just a reliable buddy—and touch base at least once a week.”
“Replace the motivation of outside factors that fade with how great you feel and look when you’re in a consistent routine,” says Parker. “Put a picture of yourself at your healthiest on your fridge, your closet or your phone and write down why you want to be there again to remind yourself of the best reason to get healthy.”
Remember that getting in shape takes time. If you start with workouts that are too intense you’ll increase your risk for injury, and trying to make too many changes all at once will likely lead you to feel overwhelmed and therefore, more likely to give up. Instead take small, progressive steps and remember to keep your workouts fun and exciting.