Hey, everyone falls off the horse every now and again -- the trick is getting back on. And if you haven't been exercising as much as you should, today is the day to start again. Easing yourself gently back into strength training and cardio not only eases your body back into activity, but also it can help stop you from feeling discouraged if you can't run as fast or lift as much as you used to.
Evaluate your last workout effort and why you stopped exercising. This can help provide ways to avoid the same fate in the future. For instance, if injury stopped your workouts, you'll need to take safety precautions this time around. If it was a lack of motivation, putting rewards in place could keep you on the straight and narrow.
Set new workout goals to help get you motivated. Evaluating your old goals might reveal that you aimed a little too high, causing you to fall off the workout wagon. Instead, choose small, achievable goals that help support your larger effort. For instance, instead of setting a goal to lose 20 pounds, set a goal to exercise at least 30 minutes per day for an entire week. Smaller goals are less overwhelming.
Choose a method of exercise that you actually like. Sticking with a fitness plan is hard enough, let alone sticking with a plan that you totally hate. If you don't like running, switch to aerobics or cycling for similar benefits. If you completely hate yoga, perhaps dance or Pilates is a better fit. It may take some trial and error, but you can find your soul mate -- in a workout routine, that is.
Start slowly and keep in mind that your body might not bounce back right away. Even if you could run for 30 minutes last time around, you might only get 15 minutes worth of intense cardio this time. Subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate and then choose a workout that fulfills 60 to 70 percent of that max. You can increase your intensity as you become stronger, fitter and faster.
Arrange to become accountable to someone or something to stick with your plan. Whether you get a friend to check in with you, you use a smartphone app to track your workouts or you use an online support group to stick with it, don't let a lack of motivation derail your efforts this time. Easing back into your routine with the support of others can help you succeed where you failed before.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.