It’s okay if it has been months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym, you're not alone, COVID 19 disrupted all of our fitness regimens. Even if it wasn't related to the recent pandemic there are many factors that kept you from exercising.
The question is: how do you start again?
Habits are important because the more you do an activity, the less energy is needed to do it, it becomes automatic. In your peak you just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.
- Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. Even if you end up doing less exercise on some occasions it's important to keep the consistency.
- Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
- Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
- Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect of exercising can boost your commitment to exercise.
- Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any workout, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
- Stress Relief – What do you do when you're stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphins which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
- Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. An increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups, or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
- Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can take steps to improve the situation.
- Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise, you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
- Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy, and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.