This post is inspired by my sister, and I'm sure she won't mind me writing about her. She used to love to work out. She was a Bikram devotee and got into Crossfit. There was a time when she was the one dragging me to go out jogging with her with the dogs. But now even a naked Bradley Cooper screaming 'chase me' couldn't persuade her to put her trainers on. (He owed me a favour) She's lost her fitness mojo. Her motivation has gone for a run, leaving her at a standstill. And as someone who is used to working out, the effects are quite damming. 'I know I should, I know I'll feel better, I miss it, but I just can't,' she wails.
We've all been there. Suddenly you're loving it, and then… you feel like it's an insurmountable obstacle. I get it, I really do. I'm a PT and I work out for a living. Which is a blessing and a curse. Because we pros also go through phases when we have nothing left in the motivational tank too. The difference is, we have to carry on regardless because them bills need to be paid and nobody (rightly) buys in to a trainer who wheezes.
People roll their eyes at 'motivational' quotes, but I quite like them. They're a helpful reminder, a tiny nudge in the right direction. One of my favourites is this one from the great Confucius – 'Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fail'. In short: Be relentless (it works for me.)
The tricky bit is climbing out of the slippery rut. Honestly, even the most dedicated athletes and pros like me struggle to maintain a training programme year after year with no slumps. But you can do it. It's that initial 'heave' that's the tricky bit. Here are some ideas to give you a leg up.
* Start NOW! Yes, now! The devil is in the delay so wherever you are, make your move! If you're at your desk, give me 3 sets of 10 bum clenches. If you're at home give me 3 x 10 squats and if you're out and about, break out in to a little run. It's not a workout per-say but it's flicking a switch to 'On'. Get it?
* Subtle psych reminders. Put your trainers where you can see them, dust off your yoga mat and leave it by the door. Reintroduce your juicer/blender to the kitchen counter-top. No pressure, just start remembering when you were on first name terms with them, and remember how you felt when you were. Better than you do now?
* Walk before you run. Forget that this time last year you used to run forty miles a week; do five hot yoga classes and could deadlift 120kg. Nobody cares except the evil whispery Grinch on your shoulder that whispers 'loser' in your ear at every corner. Put on those trainers; go for a long walk maybe interspersed with a few one-minute jogs. Unroll the yoga mat, do some stretches. Tell the Grinch to do one. This isn't just about gently easing yourself in to exercise again; it's also to prevent injury. Like, my sister had a burst of unusual energy, went to the gym, and had to lie down for a day afterwards after going from 0kg to 75kg with her squats. (She finds it hard to ask me for advice; says it's like your dad teaching you how to drive…)
Anyway. Stubborn sis aside, a good place to start is three easy workouts a week, and by easy I mean slow and not more than 30 minutes. Google 30 min workiout or check out my fledging YouTube channel, should be something to get you started there:
* Feeling a bit more like your old self? Don't be tempted to amp up the working out. Yes you're in a hurry to get back to your super fit self, but take it slow. There's this thing called the 10 per cent rule, where you never increase your training more than that from week to week. This goes for weight, distance, and number of workouts.
* Get a mantra, and keep it with you. I suppose this goes back to motivational sayings and so on, and I do get a lot of eye rolls when I start quoting them at people. But the fact is, they work. They stick, and they help. If you're a stubborn sort, try: 'if it were easy, anyone could do it' on for size'. If you're a vain sort maybe, 'you won't get the ass you want by sitting on it' will help. The one my sister went for is 'sweat is just fat crying'. That one made her smile. And she put her trainers back on. She likes making people cry. Like many little sisters, I know this only too well ; )