Have you ever noticed how it takes months to get into shape, but then you take a few weeks off and suddenly it's like you've never jogged a day in your life? It seems to be one of the body's greatest injustices. And it's also why getting back into an exercise routine can feel so darn difficult.
It's especially frustrating when you can clearly remember being able to do a zillion crunches, or comfortably jog across town. But now it all seems so impossible, and attempts to get back into the swing of things leave you gasping for air or struggling to get through a workout DVD. The unfairness of it all!
I can speak from experience, because this recently happened to me. About a year ago I was going to the gym several times a week to do hour-long cardio classes, followed by twenty minutes of pumping iron. (Yes, pumping iron.) But now it all seems like some sort of fever dream. Was that really me sweating it up in the gym?
Alas, it was. And I have to say, I miss how stress-free and wonderful I felt when exercise was a part of my life. It's exactly why I've been trying to get back into it, despite the agonizing aches and pains or working out again.
I'll power through, because I miss the endorphins. But of course everyone works out for different reasons and goals. Whatever your motivation, if you're looking to ease back into your routine, then here are some tips for making it a little less horrible.
1. Be Nice To Yourself
Don't expect to rush right back into your old exercise routine. If it's been a hot minute since the last time you broke a sweat, then it's going to take a while to get back into shape, just like it did the first (or second, or third) time around. So don't feel defeated if you can no longer do pushups, or jog to the corner, or touch your toes. You'll get there! Just give yourself some time.
2. Always Be Prepared, Should The Mood Strike
You know when you go speeding past the gym on the way home from work because (oops) you left your gym bag at home? Don't let this happen again, or else you'll never get back in the swing of things. Be prepared with a fully stocked gym bag in your car, or stashed under your desk at work. That way, when the exercising mood strikes, you'll have everything you need ready to go.
3. Trick Yourself Into Exercising
One way to ease back into it is by incorporating little (easy) exercises into your everyday routine. These might include parking your car on the far end of the parking lot, so you have to walk further. Or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Little tricks like these will help work out your kinks, and make it easier to start moving again.
4. Find The Right Workout Routine For You
So many people have cut and dry views when it comes to exercise. They think the only way to get into shape is to workout like a Navy Seal, or to participate in some sort of Jazzercise cardio class. But if those scenes scared you away from working out in the first place, then don't force yourself to go back. There are so many different ways to stay in shape, such as dancing with friends, or riding your bike more often. Figure out which activity is most fun, and stick to it.
5. Get A Workout Friend
Drag your best friend to the gym, or convince your SO to do a yoga video with you. If you have a friend to complain with, those first few days of being red-faced and sore won't seem so bad.
6. Focus On How It's Making You Feel
OK, so you aren't seeing any improvements the first few weeks. You still can't run very far, and sit ups aren't going as well as you'd hoped. Maybe you aren't looking as "fit" as you expected. Try to focus on how clear-headed you feel after a yoga session, or how much happier you are once you've gone for a run instead. When you turn the focus away from visible results — which may or may not come — you'll be much more likely to stick with your new routine.
Exercising is hard at first, but the benefits are totally worth it. (I promise.) If you've fallen off the proverbial exercise wagon, get back on at your own pace, and enjoy the results.
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