There are many reasons a person may find themselves needing to take a break from their focus on fitness; scheduling conflicts, health issues, injury recovery, or simply losing motivation can all take their toll on your ability to work out. Whatever the reason for your break, getting back to your usual pattern becomes your priority.
Unfortunately, returning to fitness after a prolonged break is not necessarily the simplest of tasks. However, there’s no time like the present, so start by setting a few fitness goals for summer and then keeping the following tips in mind as you (re)start your fitness journey…
#1 – Identify and overcome previous issues
While it is important to focus on your new future and the fitness goals you are hoping to achieve, it’s also worth considering why your focus on fitness slipped to begin with – and how you can prevent such a scenario from happening again.
If you, for example, had to take a fitness break due to injury, then you may want to think about options for preventing or limiting the chances of experiencing injuries in future. Small tweaks – such as wearing supports or improving your form – can be hugely beneficial in this regard. Alternatively, if scheduling problems were the cause of your fitness pause, then it might be worth considering switching to shorter, more impactful training – such as HIIT – that allows you to see the highest return in the shortest possible time. Last but not least, if motivation was a factor, it’s worth thinking about why you lost your motivation. In many cases, a perceived lack of progress is the root cause of motivation issues; if you feel this may apply to you, then consider working with a personal trainer to help refine your workouts and ensure you can consistently build towards your desired results.
#2 – Set a definitive start date
When you’re out of the habit of working out, it can be hugely tempting to keep postponing your eventual return – you’ll go back to the gym, or book that session with a personal trainer, next week. Unfortunately, “next week” can keep being postponed, to the point where months have passed and you’re still no closer to making your return. This kind of delay is entirely natural, but it is something that needs to be overcome.
To do so, it is helpful to set a very definitive start date for your first workout, and to plan this into your schedule very specifically. It may also help to tell a few friends and family members that you’ll be restarting on this date also; not only does doing so help with accountability, but you’ll also be assured of their support and good wishes when the big day arrives.
#3 – Manage your expectations
Unfortunately, a long break from working out will likely have had an impact on your fitness. While this is to be expected, it is inherently disheartening to realize that things you used to be able to do with ease now suddenly feel incredibly difficult.
To overcome this problem, you first need to be kind to yourself. Sure, you had to pause your workouts and your fitness levels have been impacted, but you’re now rectifying the issue – you’re doing the right thing, so try to hold on to that. Yes, it’s irritating to feel that you’re starting over from scratch, but these things happen; focus your energy on your future, rather than worrying about the past.
Secondly, it’s also important to look for support. The best source of this support is likely to be a personal trainer; they will be able to assess your fitness as it is right now, and then formulate the most effective way for you to get back on track. In addition, it’s also helpful to talk to your friends and family about what you are experiencing; they can encourage you to keep going on the tougher days, which make it all the simpler for you to get back into the swing of things.
#4 – Focus on recovery management
When you first start working out again, you will probably find that you recover a little slower – and potentially with more aches and pains – than you did when you were working out regularly. This is entirely natural; your body is adjusting to your higher activity levels after a period of relative inactivity, so it may take awhile until you’re able to bounce back from a strenuous workout once more.
Due to the above, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the best way to recover after a workout so you can limit the discomfort you may experience. Think about factors such as hydration – not forgetting the importance of electrolytes – and consider taking hot baths or using heat treatment after each gym session. In addition, it’s also worth making a few tweaks to your diet to ensure you’re eating enough of the right nutrients; focus on foods that are rich in protein, leafy green vegetables, and healthy fats.
#5 – Celebrate every milestone
As your fitness begins to improve, it’s important to give yourself the licence to celebrate your achievements as you achieve milestones – even if you have previously achieved, or even bettered, those milestones in the past.
For example, if prior to your fitness break you could run 5K in 25 minutes, then running a 5K in half an hour may not feel like something you should celebrate… but if you had only been able to run a 5K in 45 minutes when you first started working out again, you’ve clearly improved, and that’s worthy of celebration. Try to focus on your achievements as they are now rather than comparing them to previous goals you had surpassed; you’re in an entirely new phase of fitness, and what went before can largely be disregarded as you seek to focus on the present.
The tips above should help you to get return to fitness in the simplest, and most effective, way possible, as well as allowing you to look forward and enjoy all of the benefits of regular exercise long into the future.