Hello, lovelies! Hands up if you’ve been a wee bit slacking in the fitness and healthy eating departments these past few weeks. You’d better believe my hand just went up in the air faster than the teacher’s pet. Because, yeah, I enjoyed myself this holiday season, leading into the New Year. I baked sugar cookies with my daughter and toasted my friends with hot chocolate and you know what? Sometimes that’s exactly what it’s about.
Truth be told, though, I also tried restarting my running routine during this time. And, darn, it’s much harder to do when 1. you’re out of shape and 2. you’re not eating the right foods. So, it’s back to the drawing board for me. Luckily, I have a few trusty tips to help me get back on track. I hope these help any of you who are in the same boat as me.
1. Be kind to yourself. I mean, this is generally the best life lesson of all, whether it comes to your health or not. So if you forget everything else, remember this: be kind to yourself. Are you going to be able to run 3 miles as fast as you did when you were at your peak fitness? Probably not. And that’s ok. I can tell you I’m at least one to two minutes slower per mile than I was when I ran Ragnar. It made me a little sad at first, until I realized, hey, at least I’m running. The point is to start where you are and go from there. If you let the negative talk in, it will wear you down. So only good things, ok?
2. Set yourself up for success. This might mean different things to different people, but for me, making sure I exercise each day means laying out my workout gear the night before. First thing in the morning, that’s what I reach for to get dressed. And if I’m already wearing my workout gear come lunchtime when I normally work out, it’s much harder to make excuses to skip the sweat session. Hand in hand with this is making sure to plan healthy meals and snacks. When I meal plan, including snacks, I am way less likely get off track with my eating during the day.
3. Start small. When you’re going from days of lazy naps and extra eating to getting back into a fitness routine, start by making your workouts more manageable. I would love to get back to lifting weights three times a week, along with five days of cardio, but whew, my muscles are tired. Instead of getting burned out by doing too much at once, I’m squeezing in small bits of exercise throughout my day. For example, I do squats and lunges while I’m making tea, and do pushups when waiting for the microwave to run. The little bits add up, and they help break up your day.
4. Reach for flavored water and tea rather than sugar. Friends, I am trying to break up with sugar and it’s a bit messy. I have always been a bit of a sweet tooth, but sugar is like hot boy in high school who you know is bad for you but you just can’t shake. When you finally get dumped by him, it leaves you flat on your butt. So, get the upper hand and curb your cravings by drinking flavored waters and tea. I have my hot water with lemon every morning, and a few cups of tea throughout the day (one cup of caffeine in the morning, decaf in the afternoon). And tell you what -when I have a cup of tea rather than a cookie, it tends to do the trick.
5. Enlist a buddy. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing, when applied the right way. Ask a friend to join you on your walks or go on gym dates. It’s way more fun to have a friend along when you’re sweating, and it helps keep you accountable. Right now, my husband is my workout buddy. Even on days when we don’t get to run together, when we compare notes on distances and times, it keeps me motivated to get out there and kick butt. That might be the competitive side of me coming out, but whatever works.
6. Get the gear. Ok, I know you may have spent some money over the holidays, but if you don’t have good workout gear, it’s worth spending a few dollars on yourself now. Consider it a belated present to yourself, and go find some sports bras, sneakers, and clothes that are both functional and cute. At this time of year, the only thing that gets me outside in the cold is knowing I have moisture-wicking clothes on, rather than the sweatpants I used to run in (eeks!), and it helps when you feel good in your gear. Spend a few minutes researching the best workout clothes for your activity of choice, and then get moving. Old Navy is one of my personal favorites for finding affordable styles.
7. Make it fun. Goodness knows, if you’re going to start (or restart) a habit, you need to make it fun in order to stick with it. This might mean taking a new yoga class or listening to your favorite podcast as you run. Discover what it is that keeps you coming back, and then keep it up!
Do you have anything else to add? I’d love to hear your tips.