by Ninja Master Mark Fisher
“I’m just… I’m just SO embarrassed.”
The Ninja looked down at the sidewalk. The hustle and bustle of rush hour 9th avenue Manhattan swarmed around us.
I assured the Ninja. “We’ve all had those moments gurl. You are not alone. I can’t tell you how common it is for folks to fall off the wagon for periods of time when starting their fitness journey.”
The Ninja let out a sigh and fingered the ear buds of the iPod headphones. “So how do I get back on the wagon?”
I smiled. “To get back on the wagon… you just have to get back on the wagon.” (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
The Ninja sank into their right hip and cocked their head to the side like a confused puppy.
Get Back On The Wagon… How??
As discussed before on this blog, when folks start the journey towards making fitness a lifestyle, it’s not uncommon to have periods of getting derailed. Sometimes these periods are a couple of weeks. And in some cases, they’re periods of a couple months.
Regardless of how long it’s been, there’s a distinct feeling of shame that can accompany losing your fitness mojo. Your clothes are fitting tighter, you’re frustrated that you’ve “thrown away all your hard work,” and in some cases, you’re dreading even being seen by the very folks at the gym you love.
Here are some logistical and emotional strategies to ease back into the waters of fitness glory after a few weeks or a few months hiatus.
Sometimes returning to the gym feels like a daunting mountain to climb.
Focus On Behavior
If you’ve put on a few pounds, this is where you’ll do best putting your head down and focusing on pure behavior. Getting the fitness ball rolling again will always take some time. Since it will likely be a least a couple of weeks before your clothes start to fit differently again, it’s best to focus purely on getting the workouts in.
Instead of obsessing over how far you’ve fallen (which is usually not as bad as you think anyway), you’ll be served to just GET IT IN. Make a schedule and stick to it. After two to four weeks you should start seeing some progress, and this will inspire you to keep going.
But in the beginning your focus needs to be on behavior and not results.
Easing Back In
Based on how long you’ve been away, we’ll want to be mindful how much activity we do when we start. Since soreness just means something different has happened, immediately going back to our old workouts will be detrimental in a number of ways.
For starters, you may find yourself unable to walk if you try to replicate workouts from the peak of your conditioning. Usually one to two sets of an exercise are plenty the first time back after a long period away from the gym. Don’t go as hard as you can, as this will leave you super sore and you may have a hard time making it in for the next workout.
Additionally, appreciate your strength and conditioning levels will have diminished to some extent. Be patient and focus on consistency and getting the workouts in.
Other Quick Tips
- You’ll really be served by focusing on the environmental cues for success. This includes things like laying out your workout clothes the night before if you have to be up early in the morning.
- If you’re clothes are bumming you out because they don’t fit the same, you can and should consider this when choosing attire!
- Consider looping in a friend to be your accountability buddy. You’ll be amazed how much more willpower you have when you ask a supportive friend to check up on you (particularly if you plan to workout together).
- Remember, nutrition is always the biggest player if you don’t feel good about being shirtless. Go grocery shopping, prep some food before you begin your work week and throw out temptations.
The Really Good News
There’s an upside to getting back on the fitness wagon. You will often find you can attain your previous levels of fitness far faster than you had anticipated.
The first time in your life that you start a fitness regime, it’s a bit of a mountain. It’s ALL brand new. You have to do a lot of work just to learn the very basics of exercise technique and how to eat properly for your goals. But for your second swing, you’ll own a lot of this information. So not only will the body likely be able to respond quicker to recapture a previous level of health and hotness, the journey will ideally be easier if you’re retracing pathways you’ve already explored.
As a final side note, due to the quirks of motor programming, it’s not uncommon to see some technical improvements in movement after some time away. Neat!
Seriously. Get Back On the Wagon.
Your transition back to working out will naturally have some discomfort. No one likes to feel like they’re not at their best.
But if you follow the above strategies, you’ll hopefully find some solace. All is NOT lost. You have NOT thrown away all the work you’ve done. By focusing on nailing your behaviors and getting your workouts in, you’ll be surprised how quickly your body responds.
As always, like a needy boyfriend or girlfriend, I want to hear from you! Have you ever fallen off the wagon but made it back to the gym? Do you have any other advice for waylaid gym-goers?