How to handle fitness setbacks

 

I admit, I don’t like surprises. I’ll make exceptions for those that involve a chocolatey center, an unexpected award, or a birthday party in my honor.

For those, I’m on board.   

So when technical problems reared their ugly head last week after launching my new website, I was considerably less than thrilled.

“Surprise! You’re in deep doggie doo,” my computer said to me in its own little cyberlanguage.

Unbeknownst to me, my emails were floating out in cyberspace for a few days, not quite making it to my Inbox. I didn’t notice it at first and simply figured hey, it’s the holidays and I’m probably one of four people still working this time of year.

But no. Well, it’s true few people were working but my emails were out there somewhere, looking for their rightful home.

Then I began hearing from some of you who received weird emails containing a newsletter template (which I still have no idea why or how). Others wrote to tell me about links that didn’t work or some other thing that made it look as if I was running some cheesy dog and pony show (honestly, I’m not even sure what that is, but it sounds shady).

I assure you, I am working with my technical team and most of it should be fixed by now. (BTW, if you’re still having problems with anything please let me know.)

Things go awry in life, they just do.

You’re never ready for them. They disrupt your normal, well-oiled machine of a routine and can be frustrating beyond belief.

Chances are, once you’ve reached the magical age of 50, you’ve seen a few things. And, unless you’ve been living in a private underground ecosystem for those years, you’ve also likely been through some crap.

I know I have.

This leads me to the prospect of getting in shape, eating healthy and working out.

There’s never a straight line from Point A (couch potato) to Point B (fit and lean potato).

For example, you plan to go to yoga and you get an urgent phone call on your way out the door.

Or you pack a healthy lunch and forget to bring it with you.

Or you assembled your gym bag for Zumba after work and left your socks in the dryer.

Other times, you get injured or sick.

I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that something will happen at some point that prevents you from going ahead with your plans.

Skipping a day or two for whatever reason is no biggie. More than a few days, however, and your cardiovascular fitness begins to decline (this varies depending on several factors), but it’s also the easiest to get back.

The key lies in one thing: not allowing a day or two to become three, four and then… it becomes a habit. Get right back to your routine as soon as you can and before the couch becomes your new best friend.

I get a lot of emails asking about exercising when injured or recovering.

First and foremost, ask your doctor or physical therapist. Once you’re released back into the wild it’s up to you to find what works. “If it hurts, don’t do it,” my orthopedic doctor told me. How many years of medical school did it take before you learned that gem? I wanted to ask but was afraid he; bop me on the head with a femur bone from the skeleton in the room.

If and when you find yourself taking an unplanned break from working out, keep in mind these five ways to start back up safely…

  1. Don’t start where you stopped

This seems like a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times people are so excited to get back to exercising that they jump in thinking they can pick up where they left off. If you’ve been out of the loop for more than a couple of weeks, you’ll need to back in slowly. A friend of mine returned too soon to the gym after back surgery and, as a result, needed a second surgery.

That’s a high price to pay for a lack of patience.

  1. Take 10

If you used to do 30 or more minutes of cardio, and it’s been more than a few weeks since you last worked out, start with 10 minutes the first day and see how you feel the next. Or do a short workout in the morning and at night, 10 minutes each, until you’re back completely. Do that for a week or so, three times a week with a day in between each workout. Then begin increasing the time OR frequency of your workouts.

  1. K.I.S.

Keep it simple, too, when you get back to resistance training – especially if you’re coming back from an injury. Start with bodyweight exercises before increasing weight or using free weights. And, of course, ask your doctor about exercises you should and should not do. Work your way up slowly and notice how you feel after adding a different exercise. For example, I found out the hard way that anything that provides resistance below my knees hurts, such as the leg curl machine. So I found alternatives to a hamstring machine I can no longer do without pain.

  1. Focus on your diet

If you’re unable to do anything for a while it’s a good time to really clean up your diet. Set small goals each week by changing one thing. And be sure to write down everything you eat.  Get rid of all junk food, and eliminate fast food as much as possible, watch alcohol (see more tips in the links below). In the end, calories in versus calories out determines whether or not you gain weight during your hiatus.

  1. Have patience

The longer you’ve been away from your regular routine, the longer it will take to get back in the swing. Avoid fretting about what you “used to do.” Enjoy the process and stay in the moment!

NOW YOU…

What’s the longest break you’ve had to take from exercise or activity, and how did you cope? Let me know in the comments section below… 

Other posts you may enjoy…

How to get results when you can’t do your usual workout

Fat-burning, low-impact, home workout

5 Ways to stay on track when saboteurs strike

Got questions? Send them my way at linda@lindamelone.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep up the good work!

Your Ageless Body Coach,

6 Comments

  1. Michelle Bignault on January 5, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Thanks, Linda! This is an encouraging email…
    I have throughly enjoyed your writings; very full of helpful facts, as well as humorous and witty commentary.

    Happy New Year and Thanks!!
    ~Michelle Bignault

    • Linda Melone on January 5, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Thank YOU, Michelle! Glad you find my tips helpful.

  2. Denise on January 6, 2017 at 6:14 am

    I certainly hoped the holidays were kind to you!!

    I’m currently taking a long break – muscle spasms and back pain have banished me to the couch! I really watch what I’m eating during this stage of no “formal” exercise. Granted, I do brisk walking a couple of times a week when possible but my diet is what really helps me maintain or lose weight. I hope to slowly return to resistance training and cardio after my follow up in two weeks. I NEVER thought I would miss exercising but it has become something I enjoy. The key was just that…to find something I really enjoy!

    Thanks for your helpful information and charming wit!

    • Linda Melone on January 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Thanks, Denise! Sorry to hear of your back issues. Been there, done that, too. Walking should help you get better faster, too. I’ve written a ton of articles on back pain, and movement definitely helps in the healing process, so I’m glad you’re walking. I hope you’re back at it soon :).

  3. kary on January 6, 2017 at 10:58 am

    So somehow you always seem to know what I need to hear…and then you present it in a way I can actually understand it! The last six months have presented the most erratic workout schedule (or non-schedule) that I’ve experienced in the last 15 years or so. It started with bronchitis, and I coughed so much and so frequently I thought I threw out a rib…I was afraid to work out with impact (cardio) so I laid off my usual regime. I kept things in check by eating really clean over the summer. When the chest/rib issue subsided I had alot of neck pain…. every time I try to get back into my routine, I have little pain tweaks that make me hesitant to jump back in on a regular basis. I work out for 3 weeks, then have to take 2 off…and the cycle continues. My husband had minor knee surgery mid December and he bought a device that can suspend his bike stationary. I used it the other day out of sheer desperation and discovered it is a great way to get cardio in! Happy about this, and we’ll see where it takes me.

    • Linda Melone on January 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      HI Kary,

      Yeah, you can’t mess around with respiratory ailments. They can quickly escalate and make you miserable for a while, as you found out. Just be patient with yourself and do the best you can. I think I know the stationary bike equipment you’re talking about, and it’s a great way to get in some cardio. It’s tough, too, so don’t overdo! You’ll be back in no time.

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