10 Tips to Fall Back In Love with Working Out When You've Been Off the Wagon for a While
Thankfully more and more people are starting to look at exercise as something that is more a part of your lifestyle rather than a “trend” or a seasonal commitment. (Can the summer-body mania please die already?)
But that doesn’t mean that life can’t get in the way of even the best-laid plans and gym routines. Maybe you just had a baby and can’t even fathom putting on spandex or perhaps you’ve been rehabbing an injury and have totally lost all your hard-earned gains as a result. There are so many real, honest, relatable, and totally acceptable reasons for going on a fitness hiatus. There’s also something to be said about simply being in a fitness funk. You might still be working out, but you can’t remember the last time you actually enjoyed it. Translation: There’s no way you’re getting what your body (and mind) crave or need out of that mindless movement.
Cure for all of the above: First and foremost, a cut yourself a little slack. Be kind, and know that whatever your reason for falling out of love with exercise (or, heck, never really being in a committed relationship with fitness in the first place), it’s valid. Next, tap into your creativity and come up with new ways to change your perspective on working out. To help, we asked some wellness pros to share how they’ve pulled themselves out of their own workout slump.
Steal their tips and fall back in love with your workout for good.
#1 Respect your body.
New mom and fitness influencer Jocelyn Steiber of @chicandsweaty knows what it’s like to have life throw a big wrench in your well-oiled fitness routine. Despite having worked out throughout her pregnancy, after she gave birth to her daughter several months ago, she says she lost all motivation.
“I always thought I was going to be one of those women who counted down the days until I got the six-week "go-ahead" from my doctor, but when that day came, I wasn't even close to being ready to work out again,” she says. “I was physically and mentally drained.” (See: How to Rekindle Exercise and Weight-Loss Motivation When You Just Want to Chill and Eat Chips)
Eventually, Steiber found that the best thing she could do was respect what her body had been through and give it time. “It took me close to a full year to feel comfortable with my new body and enjoy working out again.” Ultimately, she peppered in mini workouts during her daughter’s nap times, and voilà, she found some untapped energy reserves.
#2 Don’t compare your routine to someone else’s.
Maybe you’re hustling at the gym and aren’t seeing the same results as your friend who barely remembers to pack her sneakers. Maybe you had a busy few months at work and put on a few extra pounds while your co-worker somehow found time to get ripped at the nearby boutique fitness studio.
Annoying? Maybe. But stop comparing your body and your workout routine to anyone else’s. Every body is different, and there’s so much more that goes into seeing “results” than the time you put into going to the gym. (Related: Why Your Butt Looks the Same No Matter How Many Squats You Do)
“It's hard not to compare yourself to others, but try not to fall into that trap,” says Steiber.
#3 Commit to something—literally.
Every single time Jess Glazer, a health and business coach and creator of FITtrips, has gone on a fitness hiatus (due to injury or just life taking over), she says she’s used the same path back to loving her workouts.
Part of that journey is committing to something timebound. Join a challenge, start a new program, sign up for a race that requires you to train, she suggests. (Related: What Signing Up for the Boston Marathon Taught Me About Goal-Setting)
When you have a goal on the horizon, it gives you laser-focus on committing to meet that goal (especially if it’s something you had to pay for, like a race).
#4 Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s kind of like therapy—sometimes you can’t do it alone. The same goes for getting out of this exercise lull. If you’ve been doing the same boring AF workouts for who knows how long at this point, it might be time to bring in some backup.
Consider hiring a personal training or signing up for a class you never thought you could do, says Glazer, who is a trainer at Performix House in NYC. It’s not a failure to ask for help. It’s a trainer or instructor’s job to keep you and your body moving—use them.
#5 Buy new workout clothes.
“Find new reasons to love your body or buy new clothes that make you feel confident.,” suggests Steiber, who says it was her love of high-waisted leggings that gave her the extra push she needs to get moving postpartum. (Related: These High-Waisted Leggings Have 1,472 5-Star Reviews)
Science has shown that what you wear really does have a big impact on how you feel, think, and act. "When you put on new fitness gear, you begin to get into character like an actor putting on a costume for a performance," sports psychologist Jonathan Fader told us previously. "As a result, you expect to have a better performance, making you more mentally prepared for the task."
#6 Switch up your environment.
If the thought of slogging it on the treadmill makes you want to do just about anything BUT work out, why not take your miles outside? Finding ways to make workouts feel more like play and less like “exercise” will change your perspective, says Glazer.
Being outside in nature has the uncanny ability to make you almost instantly less stressed and happier overall. So, grab a yoga mat and your headphones and practice your yoga flows in the nearby park. (Related: 6 Reasons You Should Take Your Yoga Practice Outside)
#7 Know when to push yourself.
Ask yourself why you’re talking yourself out of workouts or have started to dread them. If you are overtrained and exhausted, “don't beat yourself up if you are exhausted and would rather take a nap, but know that it’s also good to push yourself sometimes,” says Steiber. Unlocking your reason for avoiding an activity that sued to bring you joy, is the secret to jumping over the hurdle to find joy in movement again. (Related: Is It Possible to Do Too Much HIIT?)
#8 Get uncomfortable.
Complacency is the fast track to boredom. If you’ve been doing the same workout for months and stopped seeing the changes that got you into it in the first place, it’s definitely time for a change. “Try something new,” says Glazer. Get uncomfortable or learn a new sport. Find joy and excitement in new chapters, new beginnings, and new goals!”
#9 Join a team.
If fitness feels like a drag on your social life or the idea of training for a race sounds like the loneliest way to work out, consider joining a team, says Glazer. Think: intramural, adult league sports.
“This is a great way to network, meet new friends, and find accountability buddies,” she says.
#10 Stop exercising.
OK, hear us out. As Glazer puts it, falling back in love with movement is simple, you just need to stop exercising and training and instead start moving and playing.
Bottom line: Fitness should be fun. If it’s not, you’re not going to do it. “Dance, play, run, jump, act like a kid, and just move like you used to before you cared about what you looked like or if you were getting your steps in for the day.”