What To Do When You Fall Off The Workout Wagon

You’ve hit your stride (pun – as always – intended) and are in a consistent workout routine. Whether you’re doing a weekly group class, training for a race, or have a personal trainer, being consistent with your workouts is the most important piece of the wellness puzzle. Then, in what seems like an instant, you realize it’s been 3 weeks since you’ve done anything remotely resembling a workout! “What the hell happened?!”, you think, “I was doing so well!”.

We’ve talked about what to do when you have a brief disturbance in your workout routine, the importance of Planning to Failand even the specifics of having a Plan B. But, when you’re off your game for more than a few days, it gets harder and harder to start back up. Maybe you got distracted with a work project, or a move, or an overseas vacation. Maybe you just hit a rut and one skipped session turned into 6, or a week of cutting back, turned into a month.

Whatever your scenario, you are not alone! This is an oh-so-common situation with an approachable solution. Here are 3 ways to get your butt back in gear:

Master Your Mindset

Avoidance won’t make things easier and having a pity party isn’t helping. Woman up!

Stop letting yourself off the hook by giving excuses – waiting until things “calm down”, putting it off until you can purchase XX membership or gear, etc.  First, take accountability by pinpointing when and why you fell off. If you see that it was a change in schedule that threw you, finding a time or mode that fits with your new schedule (or getting back to your old one if it was a vacation that stopped you in your tracks) is where you can start.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Try shifting your mindset from focusing on how long it’s been and what you should have done, to brushing it off as a blip, and looking at what you can do today.

A runner friend on Facebook summed it up in a quote that stuck with me, “So I realized even though I haven’t been able to run since November. I have been running for 20 years.” (Thanks for that, Jenny!). It’s not what you do in one week or one month that defines you, it’s what you do over a lifetime. No break is too long to come back from.

No break is too long to come back from. Click To Tweet

Start Small

Going back to exactly what you were doing can be overwhelming and defeating. If you gradually worked up to running 8 miles on the weekends, don’t make your “get back at it!” plan an 8 mile run. You worked up to it once and will most likely need to work up to it again. It can seem daunting to do an hour spin class when you haven’t done formal cardio in 3 weeks, and can feel disheartening when it doesn’t come as easy as it did that last time.

Try  setting a smaller goal from where you were. If you were doing a full hour class 3 times a week, go once this week and assess how you feel in the following days. Cut your intensity and time back to an easily attainable goal. Go for a half hour walk and do some yoga, just move your body and push yourself harder then you have been since your unintentional break started to get the endorphins going.

Shake It Up

Falling into a workout rut is a surefire way to derail your consistency and motivation. You find a program or class that excites you and working out becomes a fun endeavor. You’re seeing progress – getting stronger, feeling better, fitting in your clothes a little more comfortably – then the newness wears off, the progress slows a bit and you lose interest.

If starting back up your same routine makes you groan, it’s time to find a different way. Think about what you enjoyed most about what you were doing before. Was it the group dynamic of a class? Try a new class or a fitness meetup in your neighborhood. Enjoyed working towards a strength goal? Pick a move you’ve never tried – headstand, pull-up, kettle-bell exercises, etc. – and pick a new goal. Run a new route or workout at a different time of day and see if it seems easier and more enjoyable. Basically, make a game out of finding that new thing you’ll love. I recently got back into tap classes after a 16 year hiatus and the time flies by! Check out my article on How to Avoid Burnout and skip a workout rut completely!

The only way to get back to consistently working out is to do some type of workout as soon as you can. Don’t put it off, don’t make it harder than it needs to be, don’t overthink it. As soon as you start back up, that hiatus will seem shorter and smaller than the one you built up in your head.

Good luck, you got this!

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