1. Start small
When you’re getting back into working out, you can’t just pick up where you left off. You need to build up your strength and stamina again, so it’s best to take little steps.
For example, if you used to run 5 miles a day at your peak fitness, try running just 3 miles a day to start. If lifting weights was your bag and you lifted Monday through Friday, ease back into it with just two to three days at the gym, starting with lighter weights. Starting small will help you safely transition back into a full routine.
This is also a good time to try something new. If you’ve never done yoga, tai chi or Zumba now is the perfect time to get moving in a new way.
2. Set detailed and realistic goals
When you’re starting to work out again, setting short-term, realistic goals is the best way to be successful. Instead of signing up to run a marathon or hitting the gym seven days a week, stick to something simple—say, working out twice a week for 30 minutes or lifting weights two or three times weekly. Then you can build up to more challenging goals as you progress.
As you begin, write it down! Give yourself a specific timeline and some detailed action steps.
Studies show that those setting fitness goals are far more successful when those goals are not body based. Instead of “I want to lose weight so I look good in a bikini”, try “I want to run 3 miles without stopping”.
3. Focus on consistency
When you’re rebooting your fitness routine, you need to create a solid foundation. Try signing up for a weekly group workout class or pre-paying for a month of personal training sessions.
Schedule your workouts each week like an appointment you can’t miss. If for some reason you absolutely can’t make your scheduled workout try to fit it in later in the day (or earlier). Or do a quick workout at home, in your office or at a park. Even a brisk walk counts!
No matter what your goals are, working toward it in a consistent, no-excuses fashion is the only way to actually get there.
4. Don’t look back, you’re not going that way
Resist the urge to dwell on how strong/fast/agile you were before you took an exercise break. Comparing yourself to a former version of yourself, social media personas, or other people is never helpful as a motivator toward genuine health and wellness.
It may be tempting to review old workout sheets to see how fast you ran or how much weight you lifted when you were in top form, but this habit can damage your self-esteem and hinder your progress.
The only numbers that matter are the ones you see now, getting where you want to be is a process. Track your benchmarks from where you are now, then record and celebrate your progress.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We believe he was right!
5. Be an accountable
The key to being successful isn’t just discipline, consistency, or willpower — accountability is a central player in sticking to your routine. When you’re just starting to get back in shape, the most important key for success is whether or not you show up. Try planning workouts with a friend, or investing in a personal trainer.
Acknowledging how far you’ve come is a great way to stay on track with your goals and maintain your momentum. Take time every week to look back on your week and celebrate the little victories, like lifting a little more, showing up to all of the classes/personal training sessions you signed up for, or that longer/faster run.
Try creating a specific reward for meeting your goals. Find things that you love and “give” yourself a treat. A massage, pedicure, new running shoes or even a weekend getaway can keep you in the game.
It’s always possible to get in shape or get back in shape, no matter how long it’s been since you last exercised. Willingness to start is all you need. Focus on setting attainable goals, gradually getting back into a routine, practice consistency, and enjoy the process.