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8 Tips to Get Back in the Saddle Again

As a fitness coach, I help clients develop a consistent, routine, and enjoyable habit of exercise. When they get to that point where they are looking forward to the activity and don't want to miss a workout, I am all smiles. It's a great place to be when the exercise itself becomes a kind of reward.

Then, something happens. It could be an illness, an injury, or a heatwave (like we just had here in the Pacific Northwest) where our routine is disrupted. It could be a vacation, where the environment or conditions don't support our workouts or we just want to be present in the vacation with whomever or whatever we're enjoying. This is often a moment of fear and here are some of the concerns that have been shared with me.

If I miss workouts have I failed?

I have a great streak, what if I can't get it back?

What if it's too hard to start back up? What if I can't do it?

I want to stay committed but I don't want to miss out.

What should I do when I am gone? Is it ok to just be on vacation?

These are all very reasonable concerns. Getting re-started can be difficult, but I will always tell you to take the vacation and let it be joyful, spontaneous, relaxed and focused on the people and places you are visiting. Our family just took an extended vacation camping and boating with family and friends. It was the longest period of time I've gone without a workout since pregnancy and I knew it could be tough returning. So, here are my before, during and after tips for getting back to where you want to be with your workouts as soon as possible.

Before you go

  • Have a return plan. Before you leave, put your workouts on your calendar and have a specific plan of what you will do and when you will do it when you get back. This prevents procrastination associated with "figuring out" what to do. It also helps to fight off the urge to de-prioritize your workout over the other 100 urgent items that came up while you were gone.

  • Write yourself a love note. When you do the last workout before your break, take a few minutes and write down a few thoughts about how good you feel after working out. What was good, what you love about doing this, how great you feel when you take care of yourself. If you're dragging your feet when you get back, read this to remind yourself of how good it can be.

While your away

  • Be active. ALL activity is good activity. It does not need to be intense - swim, paddle, stroll, walk or hike but do find ways to move your body.

  • Eat well. Treat your body well with fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Stay hydrated.

When you get back

  • Focus on Frequency - To most quickly re-establish your routine, focus on a higher frequency of workouts vs. duration. For example a 20 minute workout 5 days in a row can be better than 2-hour long workouts when you return.

  • Lighten Up. Don't expect yourself to jump back in with the same weight as you left. Drop to lighter weights and focus on form to prevent injury. Give yourself a few days to let the mind-muscle connection re-establish itself.

  • Expect Soreness. You shouldn't have pain, but you may feel a bit sore, just like when you started. It's normal and to be expected.

  • Make a Date. An accountability partner is really helpful when you return. Schedule one workout with a friend or a check-in with someone you hate to disappoint as a way to keep yourself accountable.

Taking a vacation doesn't need to create fear and it definitely isn't a failure or a lack of commitment to your health. It's a time to spring back, adapt and flex our resiliency muscle.

"It's not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up" Vince Lombardi

(Photo - Lake Roosevelt, Washington State)

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