It’s that time of year that everyone is setting resolutions, renewing gym memberships and recommitting to their health. Hooray! All wonderful things.
But along with these new beginnings, the feeling of a fresh start and a clean slate can come feelings of dread and shame. In fact, they’re quite common emotions to feel if you’ve been out of the exercise loop for a while.
Dread that the new exercise regime is going to suck (or worse - hurt. A LOT). Shame that you’re not as fit as you once were or that you’ve put weight on.
But as you would know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while - dread and shame are not good motivators for sustainable weight loss or fitness.
Some of you may know that for the last 6 months I’ve been solely focused on doing reformer Pilates to heal my lower back pain. I haven’t done anything else, no cardio apart from some gentle walking and no weights training.
Only in the last few weeks have I been able to add a few more exercises to my routine and last week I went for my first run in I don’t even know how long.
In this time I’ve picked up quite a few tips for getting back on the fitness wagon if you’ve fallen off for any reason (whether it’s pain, injury or an ongoing case of can’t-be-bothered-ded).
So before you race off for a 12km run to burn off the Xmas excess or are coming back from an injury, please heed these 5 tips for getting back into exercise.
1. Acceptance is vital for vitality
Sure, you may wish you’d never torn your hamstring leaving you hobbling around on crutches for 6 weeks. You may feel like a failure for letting your running routine slide over the holidays. Or you may miss the “good old days” when you could cut loose on the dancefloor for 12 hours straight and had the 6-pack to prove it.
But sitting in a mood of resentment and regret is never going to get you back into exercise. At worst, you’ll push yourself too hard to try to “make up for lost time” and end up overtraining, injuring yourself (again) and you’re back at square one.
Accepting a situation doesn’t mean you have to be over the moon about it, or that you’d don’t want to improve.
And when you honour your abilities and live in the present, you can transform your mood and find joyful ways to move your body right now.
As Albert Einstein wisely said
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them”
2. Ease into it
You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you decide to go gung-ho. Don’t pick up your exercise regime from where you left off. Start where you can.
This may mean running more slowly, going less distance, doing intervals to build up endurance, lifting lighter weights, or working out for less time. Your intensity and duration should match your fitness levels here and now.
Leave your workout wanting more of that good stuff, instead of having to peel yourself off the floor and onto a physio’s table.
3. Celebrate the success
Every day you move your body in a joyful and sustainable way is cause for celebration. The more you do and the more you celebrate your efforts and achievements, the more inspired you’ll feel to do more.
Even if all you can do is a few gentle stretches, or a walk in the park - celebrate. Be joyful in this present moment however you can move now.
The exercise-achieve-celebrate is a wonderful life-affirming cycle to be on.
4. Forgive yourself
Did you try to whip yourself into shape? Binged? Overindulged? Overtrained? Put on weight? Put others’ needs constantly before yours? Dropped your self care routine? Feel unworthy, overwhelmed, down and out?
Breathe in. Breathe out. Forgive and release all those things. Because you’re back. You’re back in the present moment where you have the power to choose the best choices for you; to love yourself fully; and to start anew.
5. Focus on your Core Desired Feelings / Positively Desired Mood
This is because when you know why you want to exercise, the aligned effort becomes effortless and you have an endless source of motivation. True story.
What about you most excellent comrade? Have you fallen off the fitness wagon recently? How do you motivate yourself to get back on? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?