Recently I’ve been thinking of all the things I could do to help get me motivated and back into my normal fitness routine. To help hold myself accountable, I thought I’d write this to inspire myself to get back ‘on it’. This all came about after reading my good friend Maria Bailey’s Ironman 70.3 story, which got me feeling more than guilty about how lazy I have become recently. So, thank you, Maria, for giving me the kick up the ass that I needed.
Since the summer began, I’ve spent the past couple of months swapping gym sessions and healthy eating for socialising, eating out more than I needed to in a week, going on numerous holidays, and getting married (plus a long honeymoon full of indulgence and wine). Was it worth it? Absolutely, however, that time is now over and I’m craving feeling healthy again.
Rewind to a few months back and it was a different story. I was working hard to get into wedding shape. Fast-forward and I’ve been telling myself I’d worked so hard getting into wedding shape I can enjoy ‘bad things’ without feeling guilty. However, it doesn’t last. The guilt has well and truly come back and I’ve been feeling more sluggish than ever.
The healthy balancing act
It’s become clear to me that I need balance. I asked myself, why can’t I have both? Why can’t I eat as much bread and cheese as I want but without the guilt? Well, the answer is simple. I can. I just need to make a plan and make it fit my lifestyle. Unfortunately, I’ve been totally out of sorts in terms of my fitness regime. I love to exercise and I love to run, but I’ve fallen out of my routine. My ‘good’ habits were no longer habits.
To start, I’ve signed up to do the Great South Run, which my husband and I also did last year. It’s a brilliant event – the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and my in-laws following us around the course cheering us on. It’s exactly what I needed to kick start my training again. Having said that, I’m very conscious I haven’t actually done any running in nearly 3 months now.
Getting back to it
Over the last few weeks or so I’ve begun to get back to my gym classes. However, I’ve not been enjoying them like I used to. My motivation and enjoyment levels were both low. Normal gym sessions didn’t do it for me either. I lasted 10 minutes on the treadmill and a max of 15 on every other machine because I got bored. Something just wasn’t clicking and I was getting frustrated as to why I just couldn’t pull myself together and get back on it.
As each day passed, I was dreading my next session. I would have jumped at the chance to have something else on, on that specific evening. I was so tired and felt super drained all the time. When I thought about it, I realised that my diet wasn’t helping my lack of motivation. I had swapped good fats and carbs to things that made me feel tired and sleepy. Even at 12pm in the day, I wasn’t giving myself the nutrition I needed to fuel my workouts. So I’ve started to prep my meals again (like I once did pre-summer) and I’ve begun to feel satisfied/fuller for longer. I’ve also cut back on biscuits and rice cakes in between meals and switched to eating more fruit and nuts as an alternative.
Suddenly, in the last week, my gym classes have felt way more enjoyable. My energy levels are up and I’m back doing road running (just in time for the Great South Run). I’m also back to setting my alarm 1hr earlier to wake up and book myself into the gym classes I want. But, I’m also still socialising and enjoying life. I don’t feel guilty anymore, because I know I’ve found my healthy balance. A quick turnaround has left me feeling good in myself and my mental strength is back on track.
What have I learnt?
Over the last few months, I’ve realised that I exercise because I enjoy it. I previously thought I ‘had’ to exercise before the wedding, and then I didn’t need to as the wedding was over. But it’s a general love of feeling fit, strong and healthy that is my real motivation.
Having just changed some minor things in my lifestyle, it’s allowed me to bring back my fitness regime and energy levels for running and participating in my gym classes. I really didn’t realise how much my unhealthy diet had impacted my energy levels and self-motivation.
It was so simple, I just needed a trigger moment (thanks Maria) to realise why I felt so guilty and unhealthy. I might not be a fitness expert, but what I do know is I love fitness and exercise so it was easy for me. I found what I enjoy and it makes it pain-free (in a good way). The difficulty is just getting started.
Top tips to get back into a routine
- Create a habit – If exercise becomes a habit, you’ll keep at it regardless of your motivation levels. Getting out there is always the hardest part. Whether that is a run, going to the gym or something else. Just do it. Read our blog on creating lasting fitness habits here.
- Take baby steps – There’s no need to charge straight into long gym sessions or brutal runs. Burning yourself out is a quick ticket to the sofa. As your fitness increases, increase your intensity and session lengths.
- Set goals, don’t focus on perfection – Set realistic goals (such as go running 3 times a week), but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit them. Life is about balance. Choose short term and long term goals, and reward yourself when you hit them.
- Sign up for an event – Once you’ve signed up for an event, there is no going back. For me, signing up for the Great South Run meant I simply had to start.
We are all different and work at different paces, energy levels and satisfaction. Do it to enjoy it and keep fit, it’s your body, your health and your choice to make a difference.