Let’s be real. The past year of work-from-home, Zoom meetings galore, and unprecedented stress hasn’t created the most ideal circumstances for a consistent workout routine. For many of us, the stressors of a restructured lifestyle have made it increasingly difficult to make time for our physical and mental health, and fitness has simply been on the back-burner. And that’s perfectly okay — if this is you, know that you’re not alone. But now, with a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps you’re considering a fresh start and giving fitness another try. Of course, stepping out of hibernation, especially if it’s been months or even years, can seem incredibly daunting at first. But if you’re up for the challenge and willing to put in the work, you’ll be back on track before you know it. For a little boost to get you started, try these five tips to get out of your workout rut and ease back into a lasting fitness routine.
As you probably already know, fitness is not just about the body but also — and perhaps even more so — the mind. Of course, the body and mind are deeply intertwined, so it’s crucial that you are both physically and mentally prepared as you get back into your fitness grind. While preparing the body for a workout is obviously crucial, the mind can also be a powerful tool for setting an intention and staying motivated throughout your workout. So, visualizing what you want your routine to look like is an important first step. In fact, a 2012 study by the Strength and Conditioning Journal found that visualizing a workout before actually attempting it can increase the likelihood of performance success. Simply imagining yourself reaching your goals and visualizing what it feels like is a crucial preliminary to making those goals become a reality.
2. Set attainable goals
When jumping back into a fitness routine after a long break, it may be tempting to take an all-or-nothing approach — completely changing your diet, going on 5K runs every day, or lifting heavier weights than your body is prepared for. Unfortunately, going overboard with your fitness routine likely won’t be sustainable in the long run, and you may end up right back where you started. So, don’t be afraid to lower your expectations! A helpful tool for goal-setting is the S.M.A.R.T. method — goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. If you don’t have time for an hour-long workout, even just a 15-minute walk around the block is perfectly okay. Start small and ease yourself back into your routine, because every little bit counts.
3. Create a schedule
A key aspect of creating a fitness routine is planning ahead. Instead of making your workout a “maybe,” scheduling your workouts ahead of time will make you more likely to follow through and commit. Just make sure that your schedule is realistic and doable for your personal lifestyle. If you’re a busy mom or a college student juggling studies, and you only feel comfortable committing to one day a week for now, that’s perfectly fine! Start with a schedule that works for you, and you can always work up from there. Try booking workout classes in advance or asking a friend to tag along with you, so that you have a stronger incentive to show up. And of course, don’t forget to incorporate regular rest days to avoid burnout. Don’t think of these days as delaying your progress, but rather as a time to rejuvenate your body to perform even better for your next workout.
4. Find workouts that bring you joy
A common mistake in getting back on track with working out is forcing yourself to do a workout that you don’t enjoy. Running a mile or two every now and then isn’t that bad, but if you despise running, it might not be wise to attempt to incorporate running into every day of your routine. Instead, try finding a workout that truly brings you joy and makes you feel good! Luckily, there are thousands of online resources, including YouTube yoga sessions, live-stream HIIT workouts, and a variety of subscription-based workout services, so feel free to browse around until you find the workout that actually leaves you smiling at the end. Or, if you’re getting tired of the same workout routine, try spicing it up with a workout or sport that’s new and outside of your comfort zone, like kick-boxing or indoor cycling. Not only will this give you a physical and mental challenge, but it also may help revive your fitness routine and give you something to look forward to.
5. Give yourself grace
Lastly and most importantly, be kind to yourself and your body. Simply getting started with your fitness routine is a challenge in itself, but staying consistent with it requires patience, endurance, and grace. Performance and results can fluctuate over time, and not every day will be a good workout day, but it can be helpful to view the bad days as opportunities for growth. Instead of seeing today’s workout as a failure or a setback, acknowledge your mistakes and celebrate the little successes. Getting back into your fitness routine may not be an easy feat, but with the right motivation and commitment, it will undoubtedly be worth it in the long run.