I was training for a triathlon and, sometime in December, fell off of my regimen; especially swimming. What happened? Everyone has a different reason, but I got sick and then procrastinated for a while before getting back in the pool.
The key to overcoming this problem is to figure out what your reason is for “falling off” and to identify ways to combat it. Contrary to popular belief, I submit that sometimes we all need to simply take a break for a (defined) period of time.
Let’s discuss the reasons we fall off the exercise wagon if we don’t need the break:
Reason #1: We think we lack the time
This is probably the most common complaint. We have our careers, a wife/husband and possibly kids, and a million other things pulling us away from our exercise routine. These demands just don’t stop, and our exercise time suffers because of it.
What you can do:
Put it “in the book”. Start scheduling your workout time in your day just like you would a meeting. Once it’s written, it’s a commitment; something you will have to schedule other things around.
Make the most of little bits of time. If you only have 30 minutes, you can still get a great workout, so long as you push yourself hard. You don’t really need to dedicate an hour or more to see results. Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions.
Have easy access to your gym. When choosing a gym, make sure it’s easily accessible. Find one on the way to or from work and you will be much more likely to make a stop. Even better, start doing bodyweight exercises or run outdoors so you can stay local.
Reason #2: You don’t see results
When we don’t see immediate results, it makes us question why we even bother and sends our motivation out the window. You may want to re-evaluate your workout routine if this is the case.
What you can do:
Change your routine. Check out the 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. It’s a good start.
Set realistic goals. Don’t go for the gusto if it’s going to leave you feeling crappy for not reaching your goal. If your goal is a large one, break it down into smaller mini-goals so that you are continuously making small achievements and tracking them along the way.
Eat healthy. Eating healthy is the key to changing your body. When your diet is on track, your efforts in the gym will be much more noticeable.
Reason #3: You are self-conscious or intimidated
After taking 15 years off (!!) exercise like I did, you may feel slightly embarrassed by your current shape when you’re in the gym among all the other people who seem like they’ve been there for years.
When I started swimming in November I was new at many of the basic concepts and felt intimidated by all the people around me swimming like fishes. It’s normal to feel this way!
What you can do:
Talk to a trainer. I made an appointment with a swim instructor who showed me all the basics and got me started on a program I felt comfortable with.
Train during slow times. If your appearance makes you feel uneasy, head to the gym at non-peak hours so there will be fewer people around. Also, remind yourself that it’s going to take time!
Train with a friend. Find a friend who’s also interested in getting in shape. Your workouts will be more enjoyable.
I got sick and stopped swimming for a bit recently, and then it “snowballed”. One week bled into another, and the next thing I knew it had been a month since I had been in the pool.
After getting bummed about it, I took my own advice! I started slowly, went to the pool at an “off-peak” hour and got my mojo back. It’s never too late to get back on the regimen. It’s normal, and human, to take steps backward sometimes.
Have you fallen off the exercise wagon? How did you get back on it?