Updated: August 26, 2011

Haven't worked out in forever or been eating all the wrong things? Stop stressing about it-these 5 tips can change everything. Get ready to get your healthy routine-and your confidence-back.

1. Retrace your steps.

Pinpoint what inspired you to get fit in the first place. Look at the patterns and techniques that worked, because they'll work again. For example, if training for your local 5k run kept your motivation afire, find another run event and register for it this week, suggests Timothy Noakes, M.D., D.Sc., director of the research unit for exercise science and sports medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and author of Lore of Running.

2. Create a road map.

When you're lost, you get to your destination far faster when you have a map than when you try to feel your way through. So create weekly diet and exercise plans. The key is to carry over each week's goals as you add new ones, says Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., a sports nutritionist at High Performance Nutrition in Mercer Island, Wash., and co-author of Power Eating and Fitness Log. For instance, a map for healthier eating might include drinking eight glasses of water every day for one week, then adding an extra half-serving of fruits and vegetables daily for the next week. You get the idea.

3. Take action. Now!

Never is the maxim "motivation follows action" more true than when it comes to exercise. Write down three things you can do this week that will help revive your workout program. Then, add them to your calendar-and do them. One energizing workout can wipe away doubt and fatigue and give rise to positive thinking and forward motion, Kleiner says. Remind yourself of this whenever you're tempted to forgo the gym.

4. Ease back in.

Reestablish your momentum gradually, Kleiner says. Begin with 50 percent of the amount you were exercising before your break, then increase it by 5 to 15 percent each week. While this may feel like a painfully slow return, a gradual ramping-up will take the sting out of beginning again and keep you rolling along. You don't want to be hating it after your first workout back.

5. Take care of yourself.

Make an ongoing commitment to taking care of yourself, not just to losing weight or exercising calories away. No reason healthy food choices or a great workout can't make you feel as fantastic as a massage, manicure, or anything else you do help yourself look and feel your best.

BONUS ARTICLE: Get Ready to Transform Your Body

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