When I want to start working out again after a break, I have to remember that I love working out. Well, that’s not true. I love how I feel after working out. Usually there are angry words going through my head while I work out.
But afterward, everything is rainbows and butterflies. So, I try to stay as active as I possibly can, working out most days a week for at least 30 minutes.
But, there have been times that I have fallen off the exercise bandwagon. First, after I graduated from college and moved to a new city, I didn’t have a routine and I stopped working out.
Then, while pregnant with my children I pretty much stopped exercising completely. I didn’t pick it back up again until a few months after each of their births.
Finally, once I started working out again after my daughter’s birth, I had some intense back pain that made me stop exercising again.
And each time I fell off the exercise bandwagon, boy did I regret it. Not only did I feel sluggish, gain weight, and have a shorter temper with loved ones, but it was soooooo much harder to get back into it.
So, here are some top tips to help you start working out again after a break.
Find your why
Starting a workout routine is about 95% mental and 5% physical. You need to decide why you want to work out. For me, this is something bigger than my goal.
I don’t work out because I want to lose weight. That isn’t big enough for me, even though it may be a goal of mine.
Think of what is going to wake you up at 5 AM when your baby was up most of the night last night or you are fighting off a cold.
Here are my three whys:
- I work out because I want to be an example of health and fitness for my family.
- I work out because I deserve to feel good.
- I work out because I can.
When I stumble, as we all do, I come back to my whys and they help me to continue.
Write down your why(s) and look at it/them often until they become so ingrained that you no longer need to.
Create your routine
After understanding your why, you need to create your new routine. And this comes down to one thing.
Schedule, schedule, schedule. Before becoming a mom, I was a somewhat impulsive person. Not the quit-your-job-and-follow-a-tour-bus kind of impulsive, but I could easily decide on a Saturday evening that I wanted to go for a run and would just do it.
Or I would sign up for a triathlon without ever having swum, biked, or run the distances I needed for the race.
But everything changes with children!
I need to plan time to go to the bathroom into my schedule. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you understand what I mean. Everything needs to be planned, and even when it is, you have to still expect the flu, or a temper tantrum, or a lost shoe to bring your plans down like the Lego tower that is still on the living room floor.
I try to schedule my workouts into my mornings as the very first thing I do. Even though it is so tempting, I try not to check email or start working in the morning before I have done my morning workout.
I wake up at 5 AM to get a 30-minute workout in. Some days, my toddler and pre-schooler decide to wake up super early and don’t let me get my workout in. When that happens, I ask my husband to watch the kids in the evening so I can get in 30 minutes after work.
The most important thing is finding a routine that works for you. If you know you will be miserable waking up at 5 AM (or earlier) to get a workout in, try to schedule your workout for mid-day, afternoon, or evening.
Set measurable goals
If you’ve read my posts on setting big and scary goals and getting out of your own way, you know that I am a big fan of setting goals. Goals help us to take something abstract and create a concrete plan to get there. And that makes us feel empowered and ready to start our journey.
When you want to start working out again after a break, measurable goals are key. You need to make weekly goals and make them realistic and measurable. If I haven’t run in a year or three years or 10 years, I am not going to make my first week’s goal to run 100 miles.
That would be a recipe for disaster, injury, and failure. Instead, I would make my goal to run three times in the first week. I may or may not add a time or distance to my goal, but I want to make sure it is something that is realistic for me.
Take it slow
Most people who try to get back into working out after a break make the same mistake. They go too hard at the beginning.
On day one, they decide they are going to go running, lift weights, and change their diet.
On day two, even though they are sore and tired, they decide they are going to do more.
And by day three, they quit.
Don’t be a victim of going too hard in the first few days and not being able to keep up that rhythm and quitting. If you feel like you still have energy after the first day, save it for the second day!
There will be days that you are tired or dragging, don’t let them get you down. Just keep up with your routine and keep setting your weekly goals.
Write it down
People who write down their fitness or healthy eating habits are more likely to reach their goals. Write down what exercise you are doing each day, how you felt before doing it, during the exercise, and after the exercise.
It would also be good to write down what you are eating and when so you can look back on your fitness journal and try to find patterns. If I eat too close to a workout or fast for too long, does it affect how I feel?
Try this for a month and see how it works for you. You may surprise yourself!
Be kind to yourself
We all have setbacks. All of us! Instead of throwing in the towel when you miss a day or a week of working out, be kind to yourself and know that you are human.
Tomorrow, you will try again and if you keep trying again when you fail, eventually you will succeed!
Celebrate your achievements – big and small
While you are setting your goals, you should create rewards that go with them. For example, if I run three times this week, I will reward myself with one hour of “me time” with my new book.
If your big fitness goal is to lose 30 pounds, don’t wait until you reach that goal to celebrate. Celebrate every time you hit one of your weekly goals and then go all out when you reach your big goal!
And you will reach that big goal!
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