You used to bike around the park every weekend, play tennis and Tuesdays and run five miles three times a week. And then life happened, and you fell off. When you tried to jump back in it after the most recent pandemic excesses, you found yourself huffing and puffing less than two minutes after you started. What now?
Try these five tips to get out-of-shape you back to strong:
- Don’t glamorize the past. You didn’t start off at the finish line during your fitness heyday; in fact, getting there took a lot of hard work. It will likely take that same hard work to get back into that shape. Start where you are. Don’t evaluate your progress for 30 days. It’s easier to settle into a regular routine when you’re not being critical of your performance.
- Start small. Trying to pick up where you left off five years ago could lead to injury. You brain may think you can still run a marathon, but your body is no longer there. Build up your confidence by signing up for a 5K, and then make a reasonable plan to get there. Once you’ve trained for and run that 5K, you can kick up the volume. Not a runner? Hire a trainer to give you regular homework or attend group fitness classes two or three days a week.
- Find a new reason for fitness. You’re in a different place than you were when you last had a rock-hard body. So it makes sense that your motivation for wanting to get in shape again is also different. Perhaps now you want to stay healthy for your family (instead of to fit into that mini-skirt), or you want to be able to toss a football with your son. Focusing on these new reasons will help you accept the shift in your fitness identity. Use this to stay motivated.
- Work on strength and flexibility. A good strength routine will support your other training. Plus, if you haven’t been active in a long while, you’ve probably lost flexibility. That means tight high flexors and quads or weak hamstrings, which can create imbalances across your joints, causing pain. Working on flexibility and strength is critical to building yourself back up.
- Enjoy yourself. Have fun during the process, not just the day you reach your ultimate fitness goal.