How to Get Back on the Workout Bandwagon

Maybe it’s been a month. Or five. Even a year.

Regardless, you’ve fallen off the proverbial bandwagon, and the gym is calling you back.

A question you may be wondering: Is there a way to re-up on your routine without feeling completely demoralized? As in out of breath, lame, weak and shaky, light headed, and all that jazz?

I can’t shield you from the inevitable physical process of getting back into shape. But I definitely have tips for the part you have influence over: the mental side.

Let’s start with this liberating thought: the process of getting back into shape can be exciting and enlightening.

Why?

You get to learn about your body, which is by nature learning about life.

You get to release any limiting beliefs that have kept you on the couch.

You’ll have the unparalleled experience of feeling your body transform -- not just on the outside, but the inside.

 Yours truly, shot by Nieves Photography.

Yours truly, shot by Nieves Photography.

There’s so much joy to be had! To access it, you’ve got to hone your mental approach.

Here are my 3 mindset tips for going from demoralized to delighted after time away from the gym:

  1. Be willing to be a beginner. Everyone in the gym is a beginner at something -- which means that, actually, you’ll never graduate from this status! When you stop judging yourself for what you’re a beginner at, your fit journey will become much simpler. You’ll just focus on showing up, instead of wrestling with all that agonizing self-judgment.
  2. Approach your workouts with curiosity. If something feels challenging, you can either ascribe fear/judgment or curiosity to that experience. Fear/judgment: “I can’t believe I let myself get this out of shape. Gross,” or, “Everyone around me probably thinks I look ridiculous!” Curiosity: “I wonder what’s going on inside my body right now,” or “I wonder which aspects of my lifestyle and habitual movement patterns are making this exercise so much harder than other ones.” Curiosity provides an opening to move forward in a way that feels spacious instead of forced.
  3. Set per-workout goals instead of monumental ones. It’s easy to swing into the “all” phase of “all-or-nothing” mode after a stint away. Instead of setting a heavy goal (pun intended) of, say, losing 10 pounds in a month, set a small goal for each workout. Examples: add 1 minute each day to the duration of your treadmill workout. Max out at five push-ups instead of four. Hold your plank for 30 seconds instead of 20. The little bits add up to big shifts.

Does any of that get you excited? I hope so!

Now. You understand the mindset part, but what about movement? How should you structure your actual workouts and recovery to ease back in?

Here are the simple pointers I shared last week on my Facebook page:

  • Focus on rebuilding core strength. Planks are a great place to start.

  • Work in a higher rep range. Say, 15-20 reps per set.

  • Stop before you’re fully depleted. On an intensity scale of 1-10 (10 being laying-on-the-floor-and-can’t-peel-yourself-off), call it a wrap around 7.

  • Stretch thoroughly. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and let that post-workout tension go.

  • Put energy into recovery. Get in a great post-workout meal, sleep adequately, stretch, and generally keep your body humming til your next workout arrives.

That’s it for today. Lots of info, but this post isn’t going anywhere -- so come back to it as much as you want.

Enjoy the gym!

Love and light,
Valerie