Note: the following is intended as encouraging, but not professional, advice. Before embarking on any fitness programme, consult your medical professional.
Winter’s almost over, and many of us are struggling with the couch-potato blues as we wonder how we’ll ever regain our fitness. Beating ourselves up about too much time spent in front of the telly isn’t good for our mental, or physical, health. Better, by far, is to test-drive the recovery tips below. They’re do-able, they’re effective, and they come from one who knows!
Slip into something comfortable
We all know what it’s like to come through winter, only to discover our spring wardrobe seems to have shrunk. Clothes too tight are just plain uncomfortable to wear. They’re a constant, miserable reminder of the fitness we’ve lost, and they can make us feel so down we just want to stay on the couch. Your first step to regaining fitness is to slip into something comfortable. So, reach for the track pants and loose hoodie before you even think about being more active.
Easy does it
‘Getting fit,’ resolutions are easily made, but often not adhered to. So, throw away the big motivational moves, and make your decision to increase your activity, one day at a time. Relax into the knowledge fitness is much more about long-term dedication and consistency than it is about making dramatic changes. Breathe easy in the knowledge regaining fitness is a slow, but not difficult, process.
When it comes to regaining fitness, it’s not how much movement you begin with, it’s the fact you are moving that counts. So don’t demand too much of yourself, especially initially, or you’ll fail before you have time to succeed. In fact, for the first few days, set modest goals, in terms of time spent moving, then halve them, and take a stopwatch with you to keep you true to your word (most mobile phones have one). It’s far better to end your daily exercise stint on a high, than to feel so tired, you dread the next round.
Lapsed movers are easily swayed, in the early stages of their exercise plan, by poor weather. But it’s a known fact, among those who enjoy fitness, weather always looks worse than it actually is, when viewed from the indoors. Make it a habit to go out in all weathers (unless it’s unsafe to do so), in clothing and footwear that protects you from the elements. You could even add a new product to use in a delicious hot shower or bath for extra motivation on your return.
Connect with your tribe
It can be so easy to put yourself down, when you see others fitter than you, while you’re out exercising. Turn this on its head by recognising other ‘movers,’ (whether they’re joggers, runners, dog-walkers, tai chi-ers, or soccer players), as members of ‘your tribe.’ Hold your head high, and remind yourself you’re all getting fit, regardless of what stage you’re at in your journey. Have a ready smile for another ‘mover,’ and make a point of noticing those who are regularly out and about at the same time you are. Because you’re in this together.
Every day is different
Just because you’re steadily getting fitter, don’t expect every day to feel easier. Some days will be harder than others, and this will likely be for reasons other than your level of fitness. Perhaps you’ve had a lot on your plate with commitments lately, or you may not have slept well the night before. Keep on with your routine, knowing tomorrow may feel like the easiest exercise day ever!
Mini lapses are quite normal as you regain fitness. The important thing is you don’t allow them to become major lapses. The best way to recover from a relapse is by being gentle with yourself. If you were previously walking for 20 minutes, make your recovery day a 10 minute walk. The important thing is to start moving again as soon as possible.
While it’s always wise to have appropriate footwear and clothing for exercise, many people begin their fitness recovery by dashing out and buying new gear. Those in the know, however, treat themselves to new exercise gear only once they’ve established their sustainable movement routine. So, hold your horses, and let that longed-for top or pair of leggings be your reward for ‘good behaviour.’
Movement, exercise – call it what you will – is important for our physical and mental health. Don’t let a lapse put an end to it!