What to do when you fall off the fitness track

It happens to just about everyone at some point in their fitness journey: They fall off track due to the challenges that life has thrown at them and then it is very challenging to get back on track.

Obviously, serious illnesses, either to yourself or someone close to you, loss of a loved one, relocation or a job change are pretty good reasons for why you might temporarily fall off track. But, in many situations, it is insidious as you simply begin missing a few sessions, then a few more and before you know it, you are well off the fitness track and cannot seem to find your way home.

Rather than beating yourself up about it, consider the following suggestions for getting yourself back on track again and how to avoid these pitfalls in the future. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

  • Determine what seemed to be the actual trigger for your situation. Identifying the trigger is often what initiates a return to fitness. Obviously, with serious injury/illness, you know what the initial trigger was; however, once you have rehabilitated your injury or returned to wellness from an illness, determine the lingering trigger that is actually keeping you away. Understanding the mental/emotional aspects of personal trauma is essential when returning to fitness. Even when a client has been released from physical therapy, they will often be reluctant to return to their fitness program, which is totally understandable as no one wants to re-live the pain they have experienced. Therefore, sit down and discuss your fears and feelings with your trainer and plot out a comfortable return to fitness.
  • Taking baby steps is an important part of the process of getting back to fitness. Choose a time and day that you will commit to get to the gym or go out for a walk or run. Keep it simple and achievable such as “I will attend a spin class on Tuesday morning” or, “I will walk for 30 minutes today”.
  • Take on one challenge at a time. Rather than deciding to revamp your entire dietary regimen and return to your fitness program simultaneously, choose one of those components to work on at a time. Once you have reached a certain goal within one of these components, then you might consider adding another component. A good rule of thumb, if weight loss is a goal, is to simply find 100kcal in your current dietary regimen that you can easily live without, give it up and then just let things ride for a bit. Then, combine this with the previous suggestion taking those important baby steps regarding your fitness program.
  • While this approach does not work for everyone (usually because they are unwilling to try it), keeping a journal of your journey is worthwhile. Not only is it cathartic to actually write down and identify where you are, how you are feeling and why, but if you find yourself heading back down that slippery slope again, you have a written account of how you were able to get back on track and how to avoid heading that direction once again.

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