starting over: getting in shape after a break

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When I moved from Virginia to Nashville, it was a huge lifestyle change. I went from having a very small social circle, from a regular schedule of going to work every day, followed by the gym, then crashing at home with great dinners to a crazy and unpredictable work schedule, a bigger family of friends, and lots and lots of dinners out. Working out was the LAST thing on my mind, even though living in apartment complexes that had gyms and pools was always a priority. As a result, I lost all my muscle tone and stamina and gained almost all of the 40 pounds I had lost back. I’m back with a gym membership now and working to get back into a healthier lifestyle – not only working out madly again, but also eating better. It’s definitely not easy, though – it’s taking a lot of focus and motivation to get back into it. Here are some ways I’m inspiring myself to get back in shape!

Here Comes the Sun: It’s tough to feel inspired to get outside when it’s the dead of winter – in January, Chicago had EIGHT DAYS of sun. That’s not enough sun. I’m hacking my circadian rhythm by using a blue therapy light for 30 minutes every morning. My doctor recommended it to help out with my depression, but it’s making it much easier to get up in the morning and stay awake all day by simulating sunlight earlier than it actually comes up. (Plus, working out is a HUGE mental health boost.)

Reward Yourself: I was super inspired by this Mashable post about a girl who chronicled her weight loss on Instagram – one of her tips was to make a list of “rewards” when you hit a specific goal weight or milestone. I made a page in my bullet journal so I can flip open for inspiration anytime I want to skip a workout or eat something unhealthy, so I always have my eyes on the prize.

Motivate Me: Similarly, I love following people on social media who have gone through similar fitness journeys to get inspiration, motivation, and workout ideas. I found this Chicago powerlifter through a Buzzfeed article and love that she taught herself the basics of lifting. (A set of bars for my house is on my wishlist.) Hopefully, I’ll be as ripped as she is someday!

Try Something New: If you usually just head out for a run, try going to a gym for a BodySTEP class. If you usually do yoga, give a SoulCycle class a chance. You could even find a place that offers a social dance every week – I’ve been on the prowl to see how my west coast swing chops have held up over the years. A lot of gyms or studios offer introductory rates or free classes, and when I feel like I’m at a plateau, I really like to try something new to renew my motivation.

Phone a Friend: It’s a lot easier to go to the gym with a friend, even if you don’t necessarily work out together. Swing by and pick someone up on your way, or make a point to meet each other at the gym. It can be fun to visit each other’s gyms, too – if you are members at different gyms, offer each other guest passes to mix up your routine a bit.

Find A Program That Excites You: It’s no surprise that I love Richard Simmons (I’ve even worked out with him!), so sometimes when I’m not feeling super motivated, I’ll pop one of his videos on for extra motivation. I also have the Cize workout DVDs – I love to dance, so a lot of the time these don’t even feel like a workout!

Start in the Kitchen: I love to cook at home, which is obviously a great way to be really conscious of your meals. Living with Dani has been great because we cook together, and it does usually end up being reasonably healthy! Pinterest is full of great ideas for meals you can batch make on the weekends to get you through the week – I’m a big fan of crock pot meals during the week, too, which you can pack away or even freeze for the future.

Monetize It: I’ve done Dietbets in the past, and it really does help – the idea that I can get paid for doing something I want to do anyway is such a bonus. They have month-long celebrity ones you can join to try to really ramp up your payoff. You could even do a smaller scale one offline among your friends or gym buddies to bet on who can go the gym the most in a month, or who increases their lifts over a period of time. Pact App is another way to bet on yourself and make money if you hit your workout goals.

Distract Yourself: Sometimes music doesn’t cut it enough as a distraction during a tough workout. Audiobooks and podcasts help take me out of what I’m doing on the elliptical or treadmill. Hoopla gets a lot of love here and I highly recommend checking to see if your library has a membership there (or with a similar service,) and there are a plethora of podcasts on any topic you want to listen to. (Lately I’ve been into wrestling podcasts, because those ladies are ripped.)

Have you ever had a fitness setback after a major accomplishment? How do you motivate yourself to work out or get in the gym?

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