8 tips to get back on track after a break from fitness

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

So far, I have been taking it easy this year in terms of training.  My book launch consumed most of my time and energy in January, which left little time for anything aside from the spin classes I teach and physiotherapy sessions.  With my 40th birthday and three trips abroad in February, I also took some time off from working with my nutrition coach.  The break was needed, both physically and mentally.  I had been pushing myself quite hard since the start of my 4x4 challenge in the autumn in 2018.  After an eight mile run over the weekend, I realized I was ready to start adding structure back into my training and keeping better tabs on my nutrition.  Without a big goal to work towards, I am feeling a little bit lost.

Many people take breaks from fitness routines for various reasons, such as an injury, having a baby, or a busy time at work.  It may sound funny, but I am a little nervous about getting going again.  Will I be out of shape? How can I possibly limit the amount of chocolate I consume each day? It can be a bit overwhelming to get back into a health and fitness routine, so here are my eight tips on how to do it successfully. 

1. Forgive yourself for taking a break.  Whatever the reason, you took a break but now it is over.  Rather than looking back and regretting anything (loosing fitness, gaining weight, missing out on training sessions with friends), know that our bodies need rest and recovery built into macrocycles.  Use your energy to build focus on what lies ahead.

2. Set a plan.  Before you start up again, decide what you want to focus on and how.  Do you want to eat more fruit and vegetables?  Do you want to lift three times a week before work?  No matter what your goal is, plan is out in chunks (such as 8 week cycle) and put it in your diary.

3. Prepare to be hungry.  If you are both starting to exercise more frequently and changing your eating habits, you will probably feel hungry at different points in your day.  Take the time to prepare meals and snacks ahead of time to save you money and temptation.  Keep porridge pots in your desks or dried fruit and nuts for emergencies.  Apples, carrots, and Babybels make handy snacks too.

4. Hire a professional to create a habit.  Working with Function360 (#gifted) has provided me with training structure and targets my weaknesses so I can achieve my goals.  Their physiotherapists know I want to become a faster runner and my assigned program reflects that.  This year, I hope to work with them more often to speed up my results.  (If you live in London, give them a call and get 15% off your first appointment with my code F360MM15.  This is not an affiliate code.  I do not receive any monetary compensation for people I refer).  A personal trainer, dietitian, personal chef, or life coach. etc will also help you focus on your goals.

5. Prioritize sleep.  Yes, you may want to pack your diary full again but think back as to why you needed a break.  Without sleep, our body cannot repair itself.  We also feel more hungry when tired (because our body needs fuel to make up for lack of sleep).  I know you may feel like you need more hours in the day to build up momentum, but it might be a better idea to skip a workout and go to bed early on a regular basis then to crash and burn.

6. Shout about it.  Tell  your friends, co-workers, and family about your plans. Or put it on social media. The verbal (and visual) commitment will reinforce your refreshed mindset and also give you accountability.  If you tell the whole office you are going for a run on your lunch break, they will be sure to ask you how it was that afternoon.  Do you want to admit you spent your break on Facebook instead?  I didn't think so.

7.  Forego the fizzy drinks.  This is one I know I need to work on.  Fizzy drinks can be empty calories (as in calories that offer no nutritional value).  They are also full of chemicals and an added expense.  Aim for water (with a slice of fruit for added flavor) if you can.

8. The more the merrier.  Recruit people to join you on this journey.  Social runs can be more fun.  Meeting people at the gym before work makes the early alarm slightly more bearable.  Having your housemates eating home-cooked meals every night with you is a great way to share the prep work and clean up. By having people around you with similar goals, it can help you to talk to them about how you are feeling when you want to give up.

These are just a few tips that have worked for me.  You don't need to do them all at once.  Select a few that are doable and see how you get on.  If you have any other ideas or suggestions on how to come back to a healthier lifestyle after a break, please leave a comment below and let me know.  What has worked for you in the past?

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