Well, for the last 2 weeks pretty much the most energetic thing I’ve done most days is a half hour of Yoga in the morning.
The end of our Roller Derby season coincided, conveniently, with a 2 week closure of my gym, so I took the opportunity to wind down a little. Although we still had practice, I took it easy the rest of the week, focusing on some nice long walks and daily yoga for flexibility and a bit of strength.
Next week my Gym re-opens, and as our Roller Derby off season starts it’s time to get myself back into a routine and get myself back on track, to start focusing on my fitness goals for the coming season.
Although I chose to take this break, the feeling of going back to it is no different than those times that you go on holiday, or Christmas happens, or you have a particularly hard time at work, and suddenly the little routine you’d built up is derailed a bit and the thought of going back to the gym suddenly seems so haarrrd! Those can be touch and go times, times when it seems like all your hard work might go “pfft” and vanish into thin air as you struggle to find that mythical willpower and your routine that felt so easy before feels like such a struggle to maintain.
Remembering that willpower doesn’t exist, and everything is just choices is the first step of the battle. The rest of it consists of ways of making it easy on yourself to make those choices till your routine is back on track!
Build it Up
If you’re trying to re-establish a fitness routine after a break, deliberate or accidental. The first thing to do is to remember to build it back up slowly. If you were doing 75kg squats 3 weeks ago and you go back now and whack the same amount on the bar you are going to HURT for the next few days, and that’s going to make it harder to keep up the routine. The same if your personal fitness routine is Yoga or Running. You’ll have lost a little bit of endurance or flexibility, so don’t leap back in and try and do what you were doing before.
I might not be a big fan of setting long-term, over-arching goals, but setting a goal or intention for an individual session is a great way to keep you on track. Process goals for this kind of thing could include focusing on your form and not letting your knees drop in while you squat, running a consistent pace throughout a whole run and not slowing down over the distance, or focusing on lifting up your feet or keeping your core engaged.
Setting these short-term aims helps take the focus off of the “Waaah, I was so much better at this 3 weeks ago, what even is the POINT?” mindset that we KNOW is just waiting there to catch us out, and gives a success point for our return to our routine.
Before a break it might have been second nature for you to get up and put on your running kit and head out on Thursdays, and if you missed a day you’d naturally go the next day instead. Now you’ve started to get out of the habit, so make sure you’ve scheduled it in.
Set yourself a day and time like it was a meeting.
If you go to classes it’s simple, if you run or go to the gym telling yourself that 7:30am on Monday is Gym time and writing it in your diary and setting out all your gym kit makes it easier to rebuild that habit. If you have a friend you work out with then arrange to meet them, it’s harder to skip it if you’re meeting someone else. Or it might be worth considering scheduling a couple of PT sessions to get you back in the groove.
For the first few weeks you need to stick to this schedule like glue. Once the routine is re-established then maybe you can be a bit more flexible again and switch it up a bit.
Keep it Short and Simple
When you’re trying to re-establish a routine it’s best to start off simple and short. Head out for a half hour run with no distance goals in mind, or go back to some simple lifts for a couple of weeks and re-establish the basics. Keep your sessions under an hour so you don’t feel like you just don’t have time to go, and if there are days when you really just can’t face it, just go for 10 minutes. You might finish the whole session, or you might just do 10 minutes, either way, you’ve stuck to your schedule
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Stop treating exercise like it’s a thing you do with beginning and and end. So you took a break, this is your life. You might be worse at it now than you were 3 weeks ago, but you’re still better than you were a year ago. Even if your break was 6 months long and you feel like you’ve gone right back to the beginning, you haven’t. You still have the knowledge and experience you gained and that’s a huge step towards getting back in your fitness groove.
In 6 months you’ll be better than you were 3 weeks ago.
Now, wish me luck getting back to the gym next week!