After a break – perhaps because of injury, work, holidays or family – and you want to re-start getting fit and healthy again, there are always some extra challenges.
So, how do we tackle those re-start blues? Read on…
Firstly, take your time! You can’t rush back and reach the same level of fitness or running that you had before.
Also, be realistic. If your situation has changed – you have (more) children to care for, or your job has changed, or you travel more; then your personal time might be less than before or, possibly, it is just harder to plan time to focus on your fitness goals.
So, what can you do? Okay, here are our top tips.
- Set an ‘effort’ goal – not a ‘results’ goal
- Start and then slow down
- Focus on consistency
- Start to feel good
- Then start thinking about results
Let’s explain those in a bit more detail
1. Set an ‘effort’ goal – not a ‘results’ goal
What? Okay, let me explain. When we set fitness goals we often say ‘I want to lose 4kg’ or ‘I want to run a 5k’ or ‘I want to run a 10k in 45 minutes’ (actually, that’s my goal 🙂 ) – however, results goals are often very demotivating because it can feel – especially when we begin again – that we are a long way off and we may just feel that we ‘can’t do it’. Of course, you can do it – so we have to trick our minds.
And the way to trick our minds is to ignore the results goal and just look at the effort. After all, we can control the effort right now and from day one. What we can’t control is *when* we will achieve the results goal.
So, example of an effort goal might be – I will do the Clean 9 – or, I will swap one meal a day for a Forever Lite Shake or I will eat one salad per day, or I won’t drink any alcohol or won’t eat any chocolate today.
If you are already quite fit and are focused on a running goal or similar, then you might set a goal (as I have) to run three times per week (any distance and any pace!) or you may set a goal to run (say) 20k per week (again, as I have) and then allow yourself to achieve that with any amount of runs and again, at any pace.
As I mentioned above, my goal is a 45 minute 10k – but haven’t set that goal and now need to forget about it and focus on the effort. I can control my effort and therefore, I can feel good about what I can do – I then leave it to the universe to make the results goal happen (well, for the first few months anyway!)
2. Start and then slow down
Another strange suggestion, eh?
Yes, the idea of *slowing down* is counter-intuitive – but it works! Our humans brains are programmed to think “right, that’s it, I’m going to the gym and I’m going to work out as hard as I can. And then, tomorrow, I’ll up the effort a bit, and then keep on upping the effort until I reach my target” (swap ‘gym’ or ‘run’ or ‘walk’ or ‘healthy diet’ or ‘no alcohol’ etc…. to fit your circumstances)
Here’s the thing – this approach will not work! It hasn’t worked for you before either, has it? And, that’s why you stopped!
That’s because our bodies don’t work the same way as our minds!
Our bodies seem to store up energy – so, if you haven’t burnt any calories for a couple of days, then you will run better, perform better, dance better, walk better etc… after a couple of days rest. This explains why distance runners *always* taper their runs before a race (taper just means to reduce). That’s because they are building up energy reserves.
So, after a punishing session at the gym, or a good long walk, or a first run in ages – then tomorrow, you are going to ache and your body’s reserves will be depleted.
Hence, start at a good pace, but then slow down. The same is true if you are cutting down on chocolate or coffee, have a good couple of days and then allow yourself a small amount.
Our bodies take time to adapt – so, give yourself time.
3. Focus on consistency
Focus on consistency instead of every improving results!
So, if you are drinking 10 cups of coffee every day, can you cut that down to two cups per day?
Or, if you are drinking 2 cups of coffee per day (or 14 per week) – can you reduce that to three cups per week?
The trick here is not to totally and instantly remove the issue – but to find a new (lower) level of consistency.
When you are ready, then yes, cut it out forever – and some people may do this from the outset – but keep in mind that the goal is consistency – so, find a level where you can maintain consistency. Then stick to it! So, don’t be to harsh on yourself – allow yourself to succeed.
4. Start to feel good
All improvements – even small improvements, will leave you feeling good – so long as you have set ‘effort goals’. You’ll feel good for two reasons – firstly, because you are making progress and second because you a physically feeling better.
So, yes, one is mental – you are starting to believe that you can ‘do this’ and this is backed up, of course, by the fact that you are physically better stronger, healthier, fitter etc…
5. Then start thinking about results
Now you have a positive feed back loop – you are feeling encouraged and you are making progress and you are doing so consistently (or sustainably). Now you can *being* to think about the results goals.
So, you might start targeting improving your running speeds, your distance or frequency – but look for gradual improvements. You might start aiming to fit into that pair of trousers or dress that you’ve had hanging in the wardrobe and you might be willing to take on a bigger challenge – Fit 1 / Fit 2 perhaps?
However, if you find yourself getting despondent about the results, just go straight back to the top of this list and focus on effort goals instead. Then, as you make further progress or sustain your effort over time, then you will be able to start enjoying and looking at the results.