Getting Back to Fitness: 5 Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

Confession: I am a chronic yo-yo exerciser. I have a love-hate relationship with working out. One day I am inspired and get in an amazing workout, the next day I shudder at the thought of even putting on those stretchy pants and that uncomfortable sports bra. Why am I like this? I am not sure. I could tell you all the typical excuses "I'm so busy", "I'm tired after working all day", "I don't have time", "I don't feel good", "It is too late", "It is too early", "I'll do it tomorrow", "I'll start again next week", I have used every one in the book.

How do I change this pattern? Here is how I propose to do it and maybe it can help you as well.

1. Not taking measurements or "before" pictures. 

For some people, taking measurements and before pictures are essential to their motivation, but for me I feel like when I do those things I am starting over from square one again, which is not the case. I have been exercising on an off for a few years now, I need to give myself some credit for my efforts, so should you! I also don't like the idea of the before picture. Usually you take 20 pictures to get the "best" looking one and then you feel like crap because you know this person you see in the picture is someone you need to change and you feel like you have a long way to go. No. You are perfect the way you are, any "improvements" in your health and fitness are just additions to the already great person you are.

2. Consistency, no matter how small.

Whether you complete an insane, sweaty two hour workout session or a 5 minute abdominal circuit, you just did something. Your body was moving, your body was engaged and active for that amount of time. It counts! If you are going, going, going all day long, a 10 minute fast-walk around the neighborhood, the office building, or campus is sufficient. My thoughts are that anything is better than nothing. If one day I just get in a few minutes of exercise, another day I'll push harder.

3. Remember your WHY.

Everyone has a different reason for working out. To achieve better general health, to prevent illness, to look great in a swimsuit, to relieve stress, to be in a bodybuilding competition, to feel confident, the list goes on. The key to your motivation is figuring out your true reason "WHY" you exercise, and keep it in the forefront of your mind. You can do this through an inspiration board, a daily reminder on your phone, a fitness partner, etc.

4. Finding what works for you.

I can't work out at home. Maybe here and there I can do an at home workout, but if I have to count on myself to come home everyday, pop in a DVD and workout, I won't do it. My home is my oasis, my retreat. It takes one too many planks to push me over the edge and make me pause the DVD to crash on my bed. An important factor in helping stay consistent with your fitness is to find what works!

I found when I joined a local fitness studio in my town, I actually looked forward to exercise. They had a great variety of classes, BarreAmped, Pilates, Yoga, Yogalates, Zumba, and more to always make things interesting. It also helped me when I was working out with other people because I was less likely to give up if something was really difficult. Seeing other women giving it their all really made me push myself a little harder. Check out local studios in your area or see what your gym offers for classes.

I left the studio I was at because I am in the process of moving to a different town, but I definitely want to get back to some workout classes in my new town once we're settled.

5. Setting realistic goals.

It is easy to say, "I want to lose 10 pounds by next month", but once you come to the realization of what that means, you may shut down and say to yourself, "Forget it, not going to happen." Having goals and a picture in your head of what those goals look like definitely can help, but setting realistic ones is the key.

Realistic goals to me means having a big picture in mind, but focusing on short-term goals to get there. Last October I said, by my wedding (this October), I want to be in the best shape of my life. Did I set any small goals? No. Am I in the best shape of my life? Nah.

If I had set short-term goals I may be a lot closer today to that big picture than I actually am. The goals can be anything from getting to the gym at least 3 times this week, to losing 1 pound this week, to getting up at least one or two mornings this week to take a walk around the neighborhood. I like to start with just some very small goals because I find it more satisfying if I wanted to go to the gym 3 times this week and went 4 rather than if I had aimed to go 6 times this week and only went 5. See the difference?

Don't set yourself up for discouragement! Set yourself up for achievement!

Hopefully these 5 pointers will help get you back on the fitness train. As for me, I'm taking my own advice to get in shape for my wedding.

Last thing to remember, if you get off track don't feel like a failure, you're not! Just jump right back in. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to take a giant leap forward!



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