There's nothing easy about easing back into working out, but maybe these tips can help:
Whether you were busy and lost track of your fitness routine, had too much fun with rosé this summer and fall, just had a baby, or “D” all of the above, getting out of shape is a really easy thing to do. Getting back into shape is terribly hard. In two weeks of not working out, we lose 6 weeks of muscle gained… um, not fair! But, it’s the truth and it’s never fun jumping back into the groove.
3 Things are true about easing back into fitness.
1.You have to start with a small, simple, and tangible goal that you can achieve successfully. I.e.: Use a calendar and map out a goal each week and check in to see if you’ve hit it. Week 1: Try one new class. Week 2: Jog 15 seconds faster per mile during a 3 mile run.
2.You have to start somewhere that is challenging, but attainable and doesn’t leave you feeling defeated. Ie: don’t sign up for 3 classes back-to-back on Day 1.
3.You have to add it into your routine every day. (um…WHAT?)
So, if you’re reading this, you might be thinking, “Wait...3 just contradicted 1 and 2, so I’m screwed. “ NOPE!…read on.
O.K., so what does working out mean? One of my favorite fitness reads was The First 20 Minutes, a book that uses science and body studies to identify that we should be moving every single day, but not as long as we used to think. The first 20 minutes are very important, heart rate and exercise-wise. Translation: don’t dilly-dally! It’s also now a known fact that all you need is 30-35 minutes of consecutive movement to be heart-healthy.
If we take these two concepts and look at our lives and our schedules, fitting in a 20-30 minute workout could be more tangible than we originally thought.
WHY do we have to do it every day at first? Let me say this is my personal opinion, but because it will be the most successful long-term.
I have seen so many clients say that they want to “ease back into it” and by that they mean workout two days a week and then increase in a month or so. I strongly discourage this for two reasons.
1. Working out becomes more fun when you start to get in shape and you don’t feel like you're dying every single minute of every class. It will take too long to get to that ‘sweet’ spot with two workouts a week, in turn keeping you in limbo for way too long. People often give up because it just never gets ‘fun or easy’, they say. This is why.
2. The pushback. Let's say you give yourself 2 days a week to workout. One week you have a very busy schedule and your workouts slowly, but surely, get pushed back and all of a sudden, you’re into next week. This is the main reason why I believe in daily workouts, when you’re trying to ‘ease back into shape’. So, that's what I mean by only at the very beginning.
My advice for anyone trying to get back into fitness is to get organized about your week every Sunday. Plan out what you are going to do for 20-30 minutes each day. Make it a part of your life. For example, the entire first two weeks could be a daily 20 minute walk. If you’re already there, that is when you can start to sub in a DVD or class 1 day a week. Why is the concept of Bodyboss working for people? Its only 24 minutes of their life 3 days a week. Its doable from anywhere. And, no, I am not a Bodyboss rep.
If you’re a working mom:
Frankly, it’s a harsh reality. It means setting that alarm extra early every day or doing something at night depending on your schedule. One thing to consider is lunch break. We often don’t have time for a full workout at lunch, but to put sneakers on and go for a 20 minute walk… that might fit! And two days a week, that might be all you get, but you still did it.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom:
A beautiful thing is waking up in the morning to silence… so set that alarm and have a peaceful walk/jog or class without any noise. If schedule doesn’t permit, then strap the kid(s) in the stroller and do it mid-day. Your schedule is important too!
If you’ve just had a baby:
Going on walks is a great thing for you and the little one to do together. Add in a prenatal Pilates or yoga class, even though you’re no longer expecting. It’s a great way to not do any contraindicated movements with your newly postnatal body. Mimi Yoga, Work it Out, and Local Barre all offer Bring Your Own Baby classes. It’s a great way to socialize too.
“I really don’t have the time”
I know a lot of people, not just moms, who use this line for the reason they’ve quit working out. The harsh truth is that they don’t have ideal time. We all have time for ourselves, it just might be at 10pm or 4am, and frankly, we’d rather be sleeping. You have to decide if you can wake up 30 minutes earlier and what is important to you.
“My kids schedule is too busy”
Raising kids is a LOT of work. They start to have schedules and drop offs and after school practice…and that’s just one kid. If you have more kids then often their activities are at two places, so getting everyone to where they need consumes your entire day. The purpose of all these programs we put our kids in is to educate them and engage them and hopefully create some pretty awesome people. One of the best lessons your kids can learn is self-love. Taking the time to get your health in-line, is going to be something that resonates with your child longer than their 2nd grade violin practice.
Julia Swayne is a personal trainer (NASM), spin instructor (Mad Dogg) , and Pilates apparatus and prenatal trainer (Poise Pilates) working in Hoboken and NYC. She has been working in fitness for almost a decade now and currently is the Director of Instructors with Hoboken’s Work it Out. Last October, she became a mom to daughter Elizabeth.