Raise your hand if you had trouble sticking to your exercise routine during the holidays. I sure did! Actually, my troubles started in early fall when I got very busy with a house remodeling project. Now the holidays are past, the project is mostly finished, and I need to get back to my exercise routine.
But it's not easy. I took some baby steps last week, making it to the gym four times and doing one in-home workout. This week, I'll plunge (or lunge) ahead.
If your workout routine was upended, here are some tips for getting back on track:
Forgive yourself. Interruptions happen. I purposely cut back on exercising so I wouldn't be overwhelmed during the remodeling. Now it's time to accept that I'm a bit out of shape and move on from there.
Remember your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, increase endurance or just stay healthy, don't lose sight of those goals. Normally, my goal is to meet the federal recommendations for fitness: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus strength activities twice or more a week. But, after nearly four months of slacking off, I also need to add some weight loss goals. Whatever your goals, make sure they are measurable and attainable. For example, don't say, "I want to lose a lot of weight this year." Instead, try something like, "I plan to work out for half an hour at least five times a week, lift weights at least twice a week, follow a healthy eating plan (you add the specifics) and lose one pound a week for four weeks."
Ask a friend to help. If you think you'll have trouble sticking to your workout routine, find a workout buddy. Research shows that we're much more likely to show up for workouts when a friend is counting on us. Support from family and friends is a plus for all health-related goals!
Ease back into it. If you've not been exercising for several weeks or months, don't expect to pick up right where you left off. Have realistic expectations so you're not disappointed and give up. When I was working out regularly, I could easily do 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by a weight circuit and some stretching. This week, I started with 20 minutes on the elliptical, reduced weights on the circuit and some stretching. You may be surprised how quickly you can get back in shape.
Try something new. Taking a new class or signing up for a few sessions with a trainer may rejuvenate your enthusiasm. If you always run or walk along a particular path, venture out in a new direction. If you've always wanted to take dance or tennis or ski lessons, go for it. It's a new year and mastering a new skill may boost your confidence, as well as your fitness.
Do what you love. You're unlikely to stick to a routine if you don't enjoy it. So, if you're really tired of going to the gym, look for a sport or class to explore instead. The only regular activity I did NOT give up during my lapse was yoga. It's too important to my overall physical and mental health. I love it.
Make adjustments. If your exercise routine was interrupted by something more major than the holidays (or a kitchen remodel), you may need to make some more major adjustments. If you moved to a new community, check out the fitness centers, parks and recreation opportunities around you. Lots of people will be out looking in January—don't be shy. If your exercise buddy moved away, start looking for a new one. If injuries, illness or surgery sidelined you, talk with your health care professional about how to safely resume exercising. You may need to start slowly and build back up, but you don't want to stay on the sidelines forever.
Kick the excuses to the curb. Sure, it's winter and frigid in parts of the country. Maybe it's not smart to venture out with ice, snow and dangerously cold temps, but you can still exercise at home. There are many good videos and online sites to explore. You can also dust off that in-home exercise equipment you once bought or just do some plain old calisthenics—you know, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, planks, sit-ups. Even housework counts if you tackle it vigorously. If it's movement, it will help you get fit!