The Comeback
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Written by Megan Higginbotham

April 29, 2020

Have you ever been on a good workout routine and fallen off?

You’re working hard, feeling good, and all of the sudden, you’re not. We all want to stay on track, we all want to be that person that maintains consistency, however, do you find yourself falling in and out of a routine? How do you get back on track, but most importantly, how do you find a way to keep that routine once we have it?

Do What You Enjoy!

First, we need to note that everyone is different in what works and what makes exercise enjoyable. Some people, like me, may like lifting heavyweights with friends. Others may enjoy running marathons alone. Definitely not for me but it is important to make sure that the exercise you are doing is something you do in fact enjoy.

We are different in how we can get back on track, and a lot of it has to do with our psychology and experience with activity. B.F. Skinner, American Psychologist, and behavior analyst says, “Operant Conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments. Behavior that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.[1]” 

Based on this, if exercise is enjoyable, and we notice positive effects such as an increased level of energy, confidence, and focus, we are more likely to stick with a routine. On the flip side, we are likely to avoid the things that make us feel negativity or guilt about ourselves. Even when you are not feeling motivated or excited about a workout, remember that you feel much worse if you miss the workout. Remembering this feeling alone can motivate you and keep you on track. 

One of my favorite sayings when I’m just not “feeling it” is “you will never regret a workout, but you will regret skipping it.”  

Let’s answer some questions

Let’s try to create a list of things that you may enjoy about working out and some potential rewards you may seek. 

A couple of enjoyable things to ponder:

-What are the things that you enjoy when working out? 

-Do you enjoy group classes or flying solo? 

-Do you like circuit style training or using machines? 

-Think about the environment you like to be in and the equipment you like to use and how it makes you feel.

-What positive feelings or emotions do you get from exercise?

-How can you reward yourself after achieving a goal?

-Do you have a vacation lined up? 

-Is there a pair of pants that you want to buy when you reach a goal?

Now, work to create a list of things that you dislike about missing a workout:

-What are the things that you lack when you miss a workout? 

-Maybe you lack energy or production at work?

-Maybe you lose confidence as you stop lifting?

-What are negative feelings or emotions do you get from not exercising? 

A few things to remember for your Comeback

You don’t have to get back at it 100%. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are any of us.

  1. Don’t be hard on yourself-know that you will have setbacks, and that is ok. It is about giving yourself grace and getting back on track as quickly as possible. Understand and make note of the thing(s) that threw you off and try and come up with a plan that will help you avoid that in the future. 
  2. Set small goals- goals should be realistic and build upon each other- I often see people set unrealistic goals. For example, lose 25 pounds in 4 weeks. This is not practical or healthy. Break your goals down into something smaller. Rather than having 1 big goal of losing 25 pounds, have 5 smaller goals of losing 5 pounds, five-times. This helps you with a sense of accomplishment and keeps motivation high. Another example is, do 30 minutes of activity 4 times this week.
  3. Be specific- break down your efforts into small achievable sections with a clear direction.
  4. Create a calendar- schedule your workout time. Just like a work meeting, finding time in the day to exercise is essential. Don’t deviate away from this time or fill it with something else. Make it a non-negotiable where nothing can come in the way of this time. 
  5. Start with one thing- don’t add too much into your routine. As you become comfortable with your routine, you can add to it, but as you are trying to get back on track, start with something small. 
  6. Tell a friend or family member- having the support and accountability from others will keep you motivated.
  7. Seek professional help- hiring a trainer can help you stay on track and motivated. Make sure that you are upfront about your goals and you have a plan.

So, The Comeback, are you ready?

Remember that fitness is a journey, not just exercise. It is ok to have ups and downs.  If you can remove the short term anxieties and feelings of guilt out of the process, you can allow yourself to enjoy it much more. If you enjoy the behavior of exercise you are more likely to lead a comeback to a healthy lifestyle. 

References:

[1] https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html

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