You’ve got a solid training plan, you’ve successfully incorporated “health and fitness” time into your busy schedule, you’re on a roll, you’re seeing results, you’re at your peak…… and BAM!
Life gets in the way – family, work, injury, sickness. Keeping up with your fitness regime is the last thing on your list. You’re forced to take a few days off or maybe even weeks (or months!). Your fitness level is not the only thing that you lose. Your motivation will probably go along with it. Getting your butt out the door is ALWAYS the HARDEST part. No more excuses! Time to kick start your engine.
Side note: Taking time off is good especially if your body is craving for a time out.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up
You’re probably feeling guilty. And you decide to punish yourself by going all out, doing as much as you can. This is a recipe for disaster. You simply cannot pick up where you left off (depends on how long you’ve been out. But I’m assuming it is long enough for you to lose some fitness gains). Not only are you setting yourself up for potential injury, your confidence level might suffer a huge blow. Setting high expectations which you know you cannot reach is only going to leave you demotivated.
Let’s face the facts: You’re not going to be as fit. You need to drill that into your head.
Take it easy, be silly and have fun!
I should be the last person to say this because I can be very hard on myself. And it was and still is very hard for me. I know that I am not at the peak of my fitness just yet. So, I have to remind myself to do what I can with what I can.
What to do:
Take it slow. Step by step. You’ve got to learn how to walk before you start running again! Whatever the reason for your time off, your muscles mass and fitness level would have deteriorated. Your body will need time to adapt and adopt a “new” routine.
If you ran every day of the week, you might want to start off with running 3-4 days a week. If weights were your thing, you can opt to reduce the weight, reps and sets. By doing that, you are gradually building your body up, regaining strength and endurance. Try not to overdo it by trying to hit your previous PB. Do more when you feel more confident with your ability.
Set REALISTIC goals. Goals that are high but achievable at the present moment. Remember that your fitness and health is a lifelong journey, not a destination. Get excited to be embarking on a new journey with new goals!
- Seek Fun and Joy
For your first session, ditch your gadgets! We’re not going to get into the nitty gritty details of your training. No time, no pace, no distance. Just GET OUT THERE and be grateful that you can be back on your feet. Whether it’s in the gym or out on the road, just aim to get a good sweat sesh!
What to do:
- Try Something New
To keep things fresh and exciting, try something new!
Not only will this prevent you from hitting a plateau, it might also boost your performance! Remember that your body adapts to your style of training. After some time, it gets bored and your body stops reacting to the stimulus of change.
What to do:
If you’re a runner or an athlete, switch up your training plan! Try a new route for your long run, add in a day where you run by how you feel, change the menu of your speed workouts. For example, you can take a scenic route for your long run and for your speed workouts, you can change the volume and intensity (there is a lot that you can play around with).
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, join a dance class, bootcamp session, group running, go rock climbing or hiking.
The most important thing is to find what you LOVE to do. If you love what you do, it makes it more sustainable! You should not be dreading every session/class/workout.
- Get Organised
Once you have found your ultimate sport/training plan, it is time to pen down when/how you are going to execute them. Being mentally and physically prepared means you are that much closer to achieving your goals!
What to do:
I like to have a physical planner and calendar. I like to WRITE DOWN (not type) my plans and goals. Not everything has to be digital. There’s something about picking up a pen and physically mapping it out on a big sheet of A3 cardboard.
Plan your days and set a time. That way, you are more likely to follow through with your plan. With a set time, you can plan your meals around it too. This ensures that you are properly fuelled both before and after your workout. It will also help you to avoid unnecessary clashes with meetings, work, family time or dinner dates with your friends!
- Find Your “WHY”
You need to look for the “why”. If you cannot think of why you want to do this, chances are you’re going to either give up DURING your workout or you’re not even going to begin your workout.
If you can’t justify the sweat and the pain, you won’t do it! Come on, why do we want to put ourselves through torture, right?!
What to do:
Write down a few “WHYs” starting from the most important one.
Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve? What are your goals? Maybe you know of a family member who is battling with a health related condition or maybe you’ve signed up for your first run.
Those answers are going to help you stay committed to your plan. When you have a clear goal and a focused mind, you will be motivated to achieve it!
If you haven’t been active for quite some time, your muscles may have become weak, imbalanced or stiff.
For your first few sessions, work on your stability and mobility, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. Stretching, power walking, pilates, jogging or light body weight exercises are all great choices to kick start your routine. These will help get your heart pumping and increase blood circulation to your muscles and cells.
Always begin with a proper warm up sesh and end with a cool down and some light stretching. Foam roll every now and then. This avoids any unnecessary pain/injury.
Remember to always listen to your body. You know how you feel and nobody else knows your body better than YOU! If you need an extra rest day, TAKE IT! You don’t want to burn out before you even begin!
I hope this helps! Before you convince your body, remember to convince your mind! Your mind is a powerful tool. If you think you can do it, you can! Set your mind straight, be confident and I’m sure you’ll bounce back to where you were before!
Don’t give up!