I broke up with my gym.
It wasn’t my fault. Truly.
Like most tortured lovers we were torn apart by circumstances beyond our control.
(and by ‘circumstances beyond our control’ I mean the surgeon who performed my laparoscopy last month and laughed when I said I wanted to get back to Pilates within a week).
Happily we’re on the fast track to a beautiful reunion since the Doc gave me a green light, and this morning I sweated through my first post-op Pilates session.
It felt great, but that’s not to say that getting back into my old routine is easy. It’ll take some time, some patience and some new workout gear (cute new yoga pants are the best motivational tool ever invented).
If you’ve dropped out of the fitness loop for whatever reason, you’re likely going through the same thing. I’ve put together some tips below to help get our spreading butts off the couch and back into beast mode.
1. Start slow.
This is when listening to your body is crucial. If a move doesn’t feel right or you find yourself feeling some unexpected pain, stop. This is a difficult one for me since I’m naturally quite competitive. My Type A brain would much rather push through the reps than be that girl, the one that collapses and can’t finish.
But it’s not worth the risk of injury. Especially if, like me, you’re coming back to exercise after surgery. Stressing your system at this point will only delay your recovery (and make your doctor super mad).
2. Practise Gratitude.
I dreaded my first Pilates class after the break. I got trapped in this negative cycle of “I’ll be the worst in class”, “I won’t be able to do the moves anymore”, “my abs have eroded away to nothing”, “I’m a failure”. Thus I was doomed before I’d even got my lycra-clad ass in the door.
Instead of the shame spiral which focuses on what you can’t do, look at what you can. I’ve a close family member with Parkinsons and I thought of her as I busted through my reps and felt ashamed. My body is fit. It’s just healed itself from major surgery. It can lift heavy things, it can run and it can keep me breathing and my organs doing what they need to. I should be loving and thanking it Every. Damn. Day.
3. Buddy up.
The best way to make sure you get back into your fitness routine is to make yourself accountable.
Tell people that you’re doing it – you’re less likely to quit if you’ve been boasting to friends and family about how you’re working on those rock hard abs. Go one step further and bring a friend along to your chosen exercise, you’ll motivate and inspire each other.
4. Talk to your trainer/instructor/doctor.
These people are professionals, they know their stuff and they’ve seen the whole range of fitness from complete newbies to Crossfit junkies, so don’t feel embarrassed.
If you’re coming back to the gym after a long absence they’ll likely test your fitness levels and guide you accordingly. Most gyms will provide this service for free if you ask for it. And if you are coming back after a medical procedure then it’s absolutely vital that you talk to your doctor.
5. Do what you love.
If you’re dreading going back to the gym then don’t. Take the dog for a run round the park, go for a swim, play frisbee with friends, chase a small child around the garden (preferably your own).
We get suckered into thinking that unless you’re in the gym you’re not really working out. It all counts and getting outside and having fun with it helps you gently build up your stamina again without it feeling like a chore.
Weigh in: Have you let your fitness routine slide? Any tips to add to the above? What gets you motivated when you’re in a slump?
Like this? You might also like:
- 10 Things I’ve Learnt From Pilates (and the gym in general)
- 77% of Americans Prefer to Exercise Alone. Here’s Why I Think They’re Crazy
- The Wonderful World of Fitness Memes (or how to motivate by shaming, comparing and judging)