We’ve all been there. It can happen when we least expect it or when deep down we saw it coming. Those moments when you look back through your week, month or year and can’t realize you can’t remember the last time you worked out. When eating has gotten out of control and you find yourself not giving a second thought to what you put in your month. Suddenly you realize it.
You’ve fallen off the fitness wagon.
For a while there, things were going great. You were in a routine, completing daily workouts without thinking twice. You’d refuel with nutritious smoothies or a protein packed meal. You woke up each morning feeling energized and confident.
So if things were going so well, why did they change?
A simple question that we often wonder ourselves.
But in the midst of life – trying to work to make a living, shuffling the kids around to different activities, maintaining a social life and staying in touch with your family – sometimes fitness and health get pushed around until they’re no longer a priority.
Related: 6 Tips for Creating a Healthy, Fitness Lifestyle
It happens to me nearly every holiday season. I enter the last few months of the year with the greatest intentions. I tell myself that this year, things are going to be different. I’m going to stay motivated each day and avoid binging on excessive holiday treats.
But then the holidays arrive, filled with cozy fires, endless treats, family parties and gift exchanges, and I find myself having more fun enjoying the season without stressing about fitting in a workout.
Until the season is over, that is.
Related: What Happened When I Didn’t Workout for 10 Days
By the time the new year begins, I predictably find myself with large intentions of regaining my workout traction, but little motivation to get started. After so much time skipping workouts and eating whatever I wanted, heading outside into the cold, dark air sounds less than appealing.
And that’s when I realize it: I fell off the fitness wagon.
Sometimes it happens just for a few weeks, months and sometimes it lasts years before we get back on track.
Getting back on track after falling off the fitness wagon is easier said than done. No matter how motivated we feel or how many goals we set for ourselves, get started again after a season of rest proves to be much more difficult that we expect.
Whether you’re trying to get back on the fitness wagon after just a few weeks or many years, here are a few tips to ease your transition.
How to Bounce Back After You Fall Off the Fitness Wagon
Start by changing one thing.
Trying to get back on the fitness wagon by drastically changing your diet and fitting in an hour long workout at the crack of dawn sounds like a good idea, but will prove to be incredibly difficult to maintain.
Rather than trying to change everything all at once, make small changes every once and a while. Start by adding in a short workout every other day. After a few weeks of maintaining that workout habit, begin to increase your workout frequency or intensity.
Begin with just one small change at a time. Changing just one thing about your routine will be much easier to maintain in the long run, helping you feel victorious each day, propelling you to continue.
Clean out your kitchen.
Making healthy choices is so much easier when there are no temptations. With leftover cookies and ice cream staring you in the face each night, it will be much harder to turn down the late night dessert.
If you’re serious about getting back on the fitness wagon, take the time to clean out your kitchen. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic to begin – just start with the obvious temptations. Clear out your processed foods and swap them for fruits and vegetables. Stop buying those cookies that always tempt you with a midday splurge.
Saying no to temptations and making healthy choices will be so much easier.
Look for short, effective workouts.
Rather than jumping back on the fitness wagon with hour long, leg shaking workouts, start off with something short and sweet. The benefits of a workout don’t come from its length, but rather, its intensity.
If you’re looking to burn off those extra holiday calories, look for a short HIIT workout that gets your heart rate up quickly. Find an interval workout for the treadmill, elliptical or spin bike to burn calories even quicker than a sustained, moderate effort for a longer duration.
Implementing regular short workouts feels much more managing in the beginning while you’re trying to get back on track.
Find ways to instill health into your everyday routine.
Don’t have time to fit in a workout every day? No problem. Look for simple ways to change your daily routine so it is slightly healthier.
Increase your water intake, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go to bed an hour earlier, or swap the mid-afternoon cookie for a protein ball. These changes may seem small, but if you keep at them each day they will start to pay off.
Small, daily changes will have a big effect in the long run.
Set a goal.
Deciding to get back on the fitness wagon is a great first step, but your progress will go nowhere without a goal in mind.
What does it mean for you to get back on the fitness wagon? Does it mean getting back in a workout routine, eating healthier or feeling better about yourself?
Take some time to determine what your goals are as you begin to make lifestyle changes, and use these goals to keep you going when motivation fades.
If you feel like you’ve fallen off the fitness bandwagon, go easy on yourself, because you are definitely not alone. Expecting yourself to be perfect only sets you up for stress and disappointment. Acknowledge the fact that you are human and indulging once and a while is not going to change your life.
Once you feel ready to get back on the fitness bandwagon, use the motivation you feel after falling off to keep you going when things get tough. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is never easy, but it is attainable.
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