Many women returning to a fitness routine after a long break such as pregnancy, the pandemic, or an illness/injury sometimes fail to manage their expectations and jump back into a fitness routine without fully taking time to think it through.
Starting over with anything can be challenging, and fitness is no different. Our bodies are different, and while some people can jump back in quickly, the vast majority of people cannot. So, how do we get back into a healthy fitness routine?
1. Check in with yourself.
Before you begin, it's imperative to understand where you are mentally and physically. Ask yourself, "Am I ready? Is my body ready?" This will help you manage your expectations. Recognizing physical limitations, if any, will help you figure out how to work around them and mentally prepare yourself for the journey ahead.
2. Have a plan.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Set aside some time in your weekly schedule for fitness/wellness. This may sound counterintuitive, but planning and scheduling your workouts will help you develop a consistent routine. Even if your allotted time is not used for that purpose initially (especially for moms post-baby), you can still use it to incorporate more slow-paced/low impact exercises (like yoga) and work on your mindset.
3. Listen to your body and give yourself grace.
There will be moments when you have a great deal of energy and some days when you feel unmotivated. It's OK. You're not under a time crunch to get back in shape, so go at your pace, listen to your body, and take things one day at a time. Rest when needed.
4. Start with activities you enjoy.
Sometimes, we think we have to jump back into the gym and pick up where we left off. This could potentially lead to disappointment and cause us to quit. Easing into a routine with activities such as walking, dancing, swimming, or riding a bike is a great way to get back into being active. Remember, at this point, you are a beginner (again), and it's essential to start slow, then progress.
5. Watch your diet and nutrition.
There is no way around this: we are what we eat. Unhealthy habits slow the body's ability to perform. Eating the right foods for your body (whole foods, fruits, veggies, lean meats, etc.) and drinking plenty of water will help boost physical and mental performance, improve energy and boost confidence.
6. Get support.
Support comes in many ways. Support can help you remember and feel that you are not on this journey alone. It can motivate you, keep you engaged and give you the tools to keep going. Support can come in the form of an accountability partner or personal trainer, or you could plug yourself into communities/groups for inspiration, or if you need more than that, you could seek therapy.
The main thing to remember is to take things slow. People tend to start out too hard/fast too soon and end up with injuries because the body is not ready. Start with low impact/low-intensity activities that will not tax the body initially and then increase as you progress.
Remember, it's OK to feel stressed and overwhelmed when starting over but stay with it. It's your journey. You can go as fast or slow as you feel.
About the Author: Renea Jones-Hudson is a Retired Army Captain, Founder of FIT MOM CEO, and an ISSA Certified Master Fitness Trainer. She specializes in bodybuilding, fitness nutrition, strength and conditioning, and exercise therapy. She helps clients achieve a healthy work/life balance with a holistic health approach to becoming the best versions of themselves. Follow Renea on Instagram @thefitmomceo and @reneajoneshudson. Website: reneajoneshudson.com