Back in the Saddle: A Guide to Getting in the Fitness Game

by Steph

     About a year ago, I decided I was going to lead a healthier lifestyle.  “Strong” became the new “skinny.”  As genetics would have it, I had the skinny part down up until I hit my 30th birthday, when I suddenly grew bigger boobs and developed hips that I had no idea what to do with.  I attributed my newfound shape to my brand new (and obsessive) pension for yoga.  I was toning muscles I never even realized I had.

     One day, I decided to go for broke, and went to my first ever spin class on a yoga off-day.  I thought that since I was seriously getting stronger (I had my crow pose and my chaturanga down, y’all), I wanted to try and add in some cardio. I figured, “Why not?  Let’s do one of those trendy bike studios with the boom-boom music.” 

     I went.  I had an amazing time, even though 90% of the time I had no idea what was even going on (“I mean, seriously?  We’re standing on the bike the whole class?  Wait.  What? We can do that??”), and even though I didn’t expect my legs to turn to jelly after class, I was kind of excited to have done something that was way fun, new, and completely out of my comfort zone.

     Then, since my legs were tired, I decided to take the subway instead of the short walk home.

     Seemed like a great idea.

     It was a great idea, until my legs gave out, because I didn’t know that the muscles that one uses to descend a staircase are the same muscle groupings that are required of one to ride a stationary bike.  I fell down a flight of stairs only to be picked up by a very nice man who was in horror at the petite, redheaded ball of goo that was in a pile before him.

     I shook it off, hobbled to my train, and got myself home.  Carefully.

     The next 24 hours were terrible--  I couldn’t move my legs without an intense amount of pain.  When I finally made it to the doctor, he explained that I had practically torn my quad muscle, dislocated my knee, severely sprained my MCL, and did a number on the cartilage beneath my kneecap. 

Photo via Pinterest

     Yes.  Just from falling down a flight of stairs.

     I was crushed.  I had breakdowns over the fact that I couldn’t practice my beloved yoga.  I had just gotten my crow pose!  That meant something to me.  And my mandatory 6 week recovery time was seriously cramping my nama-style.

     6 weeks was really 5 months.  5 months turned into a full year of not sitting on my mat, setting an intention, and thanking history for the teachings of a practice that showed me discipline and strength, and what my body was actually capable of—for at least 65 minutes every day. It helped me write.  It helped me re-define what my passions meant to me.  It helped me live.

     Two weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough.  I needed to reclaim my mat.  I needed to do something to put myself back into the amazing headspace I found in my asanas. Let’s be honest: I needed to tone my ass-ana.

     One of the hardest things to do is start up a good habit again once we’ve fallen off the wagon.  I like to look at it this way: I’m breaking the bad habit of not doing anything.  I think we all know how hard it is to break a habit.

      Here are some tips that have helped me start up again:

                                                                                                                                                     1.     Set realistic goals.  Then KEEP them.

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    Every time I start to get back on the wagon, I mentally make an exorbitant amount of plans.  Some of them honestly don’t even make sense. I tell myself that I’m going to eat only salads and fish for meals that I’m not with my boyfriend, do two workouts a day, and I’m going to do all of these things while penning my first work of crime thriller fiction…. by noon on Thursday. 

     See what I mean?  Really, my plan all along should be, “Eat healthy and make healthy choices.  Maybe only have 1 chocolate chip cookie instead of 3.  And write your novel when you get to it… but, maybe do yoga first.”

     Make your plans realistic for yourself.  And don’t beat yourself up if you have to go back and revise your plans because you accidentally took on too much. 

2.     Find something you actually like to do, and pick a time to do it.

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     Seriously, I hate running.  Every year, I say to myself, “I want to start running!”  And every year, I stick with it until I can barely squeeze out two miles.  Then I rationalize that I did not enjoy even one minute of those chest puffing two miles.  And I stop running.

     Yoga was something that I really enjoyed after I got past the initial “Ooh, I’m sore” moments.  It was easy for me to stick with, and I look forward to waking up in the mornings to do it.  That being said: also pick a time to get it done.  I find if I leave my yoga for after work, I get side-tracked by a dog who wants to play fetch and a lovely glass of wine.  If I do it right after my morning dog walk, not only do I actually work out, but I also feel better for the rest of my day. I have newfound energy and a sense of accomplishment.

     Find the thing that makes you look forward to doing it.  If it’s running, awesome!  If it’s biking through town, do it!  Just pick a time, and “Get it, girl!”

3.     Tell someone you love what you’re doing.

     Perhaps my best motivator is saying to my boyfriend, “I’m gonna do yoga every day this week!” Heaven help me if I try to flake out, because there he is, holding up a water bottle and my yoga mat with a big ol’ grin on his face. 

      Verbally putting a goal out into the universe is a great way to hold your self accountable.  Plus, if you tell a friend, maybe you’ll end up scoring a workout buddy! Exercise is better with friends.

4.     “There’s an App for that!”

    Before 30, I never watched what I ate.  Bring on the double cheeseburgers and vanilla shakes! Then suddenly, my metabolism shifted, and I had no idea how to watch what I was putting in my body.  Enter: The My Plate app.  You can set it to your activity level for the appropriate amount of calories for your weight and height.  You can set goals with it: lose weight, maintain a goal weight, or even just track your progress with how many workouts you’re actually doing. It measures your water intake as well! Super important for healthy body, as well as healthy skin— which leads to even better-looking makeup, Bloomies!

     Consider an app.  There’s tons of fitness apps out there.  I use My Plate.  My boyfriend likes to do the 7 minute Workout Challenge app to get him moving.  Experiment and find one that’s fun for you!

5.     Be kind to yourself.

                       Photo via Pinterest

     I remember one yoga class I was in where I was trying out an insanely difficult, core utilizing balance pose.  The whole class was tentative, but everyone was still trying it out here and there.  I slipped and fell flat on my bum.  Instead of horror, I laughed.  The instructor even laughed, and then she said, “Exactly!  This should be fun!  It’s about being kind to yourself, even if you fail!

     Be kind to yourselves, Bloomies.  Life is a series of successes and failures.  If you miss a workout: don’t fret over it.  Just make sure you stick to your schedule tomorrow.  If you’re having a hard time with beginner’s running: stick with it.  Sure it’s hard; be honest about that. But, know that you’re challenging yourself and learning something new about yourself with your process.  Conan O’Brien said it best when he said, “If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

     Let’s get back on the bandwagon together, Bloomies!  What are your tips for getting back on the fitness train?  Are you thinking of starting a new lifestyle change?  Tell us in the comments below!