Life is full of surprises and regardless of how well you plan, often times things beyond your control occur and can ruin the best intentions. There are times that work gets so crazy that even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast can’t get in a workout. Maybe you have an ailing child or parent who consumes all of your time. Or maybe you did the unthinkable and worked out like an 18 year old ninja and injured yourself. But probably you just did what many of us do — you started eating unhealthy and you stopped exercising. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter how you ended up here — what’s important is how you get back on track.
I know many of you think that I’m the iron woman, steadfast in my life of excellent nutritional eating and long, grueling workouts. While this is true most of the time, I have fallen off the wagon more times than I can count. The numerous and painful surgeries I have had — spinal fusion with hardware, broken shoulder, hip replacement and massive dental work — knocked me down hard. Additionally, just like all of you, I have had long stretches of time when fitness had to be put on the back burner because of life issues that consumed all my time. Then there were times when I just got lazy, ate like a pig and stopped going to the gym.
These difficult times helped me develop a strategy that allows you to ease back into your fitness program simply. Of course, recovering from a serious injury or illness cannot equate with eating an entire cake and gallon of ice cream every night for a month, but the process of getting back on track are very similar.
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- BANISH NEGATIVITY: Easier said than done? Absolutely! But you are 100% in control of your thoughts and it’s solely up to you to push forward both physically and mentally. If you need to cry, do it! It’s okay to feel down or disappointed and it can be cathartic to have a good wail.
- FORGIVE YOURSELF: If the problem is that you simply stopped caring about wellness and stopped eating healthy and exercising, forgive yourself and move on. If you dwell on failure you cannot move forward. Eating like a maniac and spending countless hours on the couch does not make you a criminal or a loser. It just makes you a person who lost their way and needs a little help and motivation to get back on track
- RETHINK YOUR GOALS: Although weight loss is usually the main goal for starting a fitness program, it’s usually not the only reason. Increased mobility, flexibility and strength or the desire to run a 5K race are some other fitness motivators. When trying to get back on track it’s best to start with goals like “I will eliminate junk food” or “I’ll walk for 15 minutes everyday” instead of “I want to lose 50 pounds and run a marathon.” Make your goals simple, attainable and accountable! Write them down and then do them. Once you are back on track you can reassess your goals and make them harder to reach.
- ONE DAY AT A TIME: There’s a reason this is the mantra for many people looking to rid themselves of poor behaviors. It’s because it works! Don’t live in the past or future because you need to focus all your energy on today!
- SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS: Decide what you need to start working on immediately and figure out what you need to do to get it done. Want to take an early morning exercise class? Put all your workout gear out the night before and set up the coffee machine. My post “HOW WOMEN OVER 50 CAN LEARN TO EMBRACE MORNING WORKOUTS” is full of great tips to help you achieve this attainable goal. If you’ve been eating poorly and have put on some weight, the first step is to clean up your nutrition. My video “PREPPING YOUR KITCHEN FOR WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS” will teach you how to create a diet friendly environment.
- GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK: It’s not easy to start or stay on track with a fitness program. If you’ve gone astray and returned to your fitness routine I think you should give yourself a small reward like a manicure or new lipstick. “6 SIMPLE TREATS FOR PAMPERING AFTER A WORKOUT” has lots of great ideas.
Regardless of what made you stop, with some thought you can get back on track with your fitness program. Don’t be hard on yourself. Acknowledge your situation and move forward. So many times they told me I couldn’t but I did. So many times I said “no more” but eventually came back. Whether no time, no motivation or no ability, your spirit can move you back in the right direction if you chose. It’s all there for you!