For many people, when life gets busy, one of the first things to go is daily exercise. After a long day at the office or with the kids, going for a run or doing crunches is probably the last thing on your mind.

In addition, once you get out of the routine, it can be difficult to start again, even once you do have free time or energy to exercise. Don’t worry, though; with a few simple guidelines and a little determination, your reunion with your old (or young), fit self is only a few weeks away.

Image Courtesy of Mike Baird /
Image Courtesy of Mike Baird /

Set Goals…and Stick to Them 

The key to rebooting your fitness regimen is getting back into the game at a “baby bear” level: not too much, not too little…but just right.

  • Be honest with yourself!  From the get-go, you should have a clear idea of why you want to get back into the fray and how long it may take to get there.  Are you de-stressing, toning, or cutting off heart disease at the pass?  While the benefits of regular exercise are legion—and sometimes surprising—homing in on your personal desires will steer you toward the kind of workout you need.
  • Don’t pop the clutch.  Your body will probably not do some of the things you remember it doing just yet, so plan on working your way up to top gear, one day at a time. On top of honesty, a little humility might be in order as you regain stamina with baby steps: it’s better to bruise your ego than batter your body through needless overexertion.
  • Let the calendar be your friend.  Whether it’s to put a red circle around your 30th glorious day of jogging or to lock in a regular workout schedule, your sense of “exercise time” is essential. In particular, make sure to make an initial commitment—30 days is a reasonable start—and count down the days to success.
  • Be firm…but flexible.  Once exercise is again woven into the fabric of your life, you won’t even think about it. Getting to that point is the problem however—your body is actually programmed to resist increasing your performance levels. It’s essential that you don’t go AWOL during your initial comeback period in order that the “reprogramming” sets in.  If that means swapping a few days at the gym for some brisk walks, fine—just keep the momentum going.
  • Synergize. If you have other health goals in mind, stirring other healthful habits into the mix can make things easier, not harder. Exercise and detoxing in combination are a one-two punch for shedding pounds, so if effective weight loss is your motivation, consider kicking off a cleanse at the same time as your new workout ritual.

Call in the Reinforcements 

Image Courtesy of Abrownie76/Wikimedia.org
Image Courtesy of Abrownie76/

Getting back on the health wagon can be an uphill climb…sometimes literally. As with any long term goal, the benefits of regular exercise can seem off in a remote horizon, so here are ways to make sure you’re feeling the Big Picture and stay the course.

  • Translate your success into numbers.  One of the most reliable carrots to dangle above our faces is to make progress tangible; nothing does that better than hard figures; however, since exercise can build muscle and increase weight, daily moments of truth on the scale may backfire. Instead, pat yourself on the back with simple growth metrics that reflect improvement, such as increased repetitions, speed or endurance.
  • Trick yourself!  A great way to get into healthy habits is to make that stubborn brain believe you’re doing something else. By thinking of time in the gym as quality time with a buddy, for instance, exercise seems more fun—and you have the added bonus of social reinforcement. Similarly, if you’re especially resistant to repetitive routines like pumping iron or sit-ups, play some casual yet high-cardio sports and truly make it all fun and games.
  • Set up an enticing rewards system.  Decide on reasonable benchmarks of success that need celebrating—such as new personal bests on the track or simply not giving up each week—and celebrate accordingly; just make sure it’s not with a bacon double cheeseburger.

Before you know it, working out has become second nature once more. A final word of caution however: remember that meeting this initial challenge is only a happy beginning. On top of a longer, more robust life, the final reward for exercise…is more exercise.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area who specializes in health & wellness. She covers everything from alternative medicine to supplements, special needs advocacy, and fitness through yoga. In order to maintain her workout routine, she tries to make her exercise time as fun and relaxing as possible.

19 thoughts on “Guest Post: How To Get Back Into That Work-Out Routine

  1. Swallowing my pride wasn’t easy, but I’ve learned to live with the fact that I can no longer hoist 225 pounds 10 times and I wouldn’t want to anyway! Same with running. It doesn’t bother me one bit when an old lady jogs right past me on the trail anymore.

    1. Yeah, I’ve finally come to conclusion about jogging, too. I don’t need to run any more than three miles. I really don’t care to be able to run a marathon in my lifetime, and I’m okay with that.

  2. I find that going with a friend really helps. If you support each other on, then you know you won’t cop out! Also, give yourself a treat and buy some new gym gear – if you’ve got new clothes to wear in the gym, you’re gonna want to try them out won’t you!
    Great post 🙂

  3. It’s like you knew what I was up to! I called my husband in for reinforcements. He’s back to going on long walks with me and the dogs once he’s done on the treadmill. On days where we won’t be able to walk together, I’m doing treadmill for 30 minutes. For whatever reason, though I “can” treadmill, I prefer walking with my dogs and my music…maybe it’s the scenery that keeps me from getting bored or irritated.

    1. One thing I don’t like about the treadmill, aside from the boredom factor, is that I can’t go at my own pace. I like being able to speed up or slow down as necessary without pressing a button and picking a speed.

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