All of us have started an exercise plan before, and all of us (even the most successful in terms of fitness) have also fallen off an exercise plan before. Why do we yo-yo? How do we recover from a lapse in fitness? And how do we stay on track over the long haul?
WHY WE FALL OFF
There are three main reasons why people fall off the exercise bandwagon. The first is life. Unexpected things happen, schedules change, people move, and we either get knocked out of our routine. Or the realities of our schedules are changed so much that the old routine can’t possibly work anymore. This is real. Life is often inconvenient and unpredictable.
Just remember that the busier you are and the more demands you have on your time, body and mind the more you can’t afford to neglect your fitness.
There’s a big difference between legitimate crises and your garden variety problem or emergency (hourly, daily or weekly depending on your temperament).
The second reason people fall off the fitness wagon is injuries or sickness. In terms of staying well, one of the biggest things to keep in mind is that working yourself into the ground (or paying someone else to do it for you) will massively suppress your immune system.
The last reason people abandon a fitness routine is frustration — progress isn’t happening (or they don’t perceive any), or isn’t happening at the pace they wanted it to.
One of the big things too look out for here is your perception of your progress — if they focus on the scale, which only tells you what you weigh, not how good you look, then they can get frustrated
HOW TO GET BACK ON
Here’s the real secret: Manage your expectations, and watch the labels you use. Don’t ever expect to be “totally on top of everything” for very long. If you get into a nice rhythm and tell yourself that you’ll stay totally on top of it this time, then you’re just setting yourself up for major disappointment and you’ll spend a lot of time and energy being upset instead of adapting to life. Expect challenges to your schedule and focus on adapting better.
In terms of labels, watch it here: Many people think they’ve “failed” or “done it again” when they notice they’ve missed a few days or a few weeks.
The No. 1 most important thing to do in order to get back into fitness (and feeling awesome) is to do something — anything — today. This is very easy advice to read, but not so easy to actually do.
For the two weeks before the birth of my first child I missed almost all of my workouts because of false labors and hosting family. The day after my daughter was born we were in a tiny hospital room with too many people, up for most of two days, and some of the care left a lot to be desired. I could feel myself getting short with people, so I left to go workout instead of taking the nap I wanted.
After warming up, I had to lie down for five minutes. After doing some planks and medicine ball work, I had to lie down for 10 minutes. It was the worst in terms of performance, but the best workout in terms of how I felt. That one workout (way scaled back) helped me get my momentum back, and helped me show up at the hospital as a (more) patient and kind husband and father.
The second most important part of your comeback is to make a written plan of what you’ll do. Don’t go overboard on detail here. Where will you do it? What days and times? This style of plan will increase the odds of follow-through by more than 200 percent for what is very little effort.
The final thing to remember for your fitness re-boot is that you do not need motivation. Motivation is a feeling and feelings are unpredictable. Now that you’re off routine, you will not feel like it and that doesn’t matter one bit. Just show up, and get your body moving, the motivation will take care of itself in time.