“The secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
I have a confession to make, 2015 was my worst year ever in fitness. 2015 was the year I also hit rock bottom as far as my personal everyday life goes. On the surface, it would seem that things were going smoothly while underneath behind closed doors—things were slowly, but gradually, crumbling right before my eyes.
The inevitable game of life.
It’s the game that throws various obstacles and temptations your way. It’s the game that leaves you in a tailspin despite any willpower or any know how you might possess.
At some point along anyone’s health and fitness journey, passion withers, motivation vanishes,and complacency sets in. You forget why you even started to fall in love with your healthy lifestyle in the first place.
Falling back in love with fitness and recovering from the thunderous jabs that life delivers at times isn’t an instantaneous process. Instead, it’s a day-by-day process that requires a methodical focus on the present moment to build your fitness habits back to normalcy.
Here are five steps I used to slowly fall back in love with fitness.
How to fall back in love with fitness
1.Accept your current self and situation
What’s in the past is in the past.
Me pining and clamoring for the 2012 version of Julian isn’t serving me at this current moment. Clamoring for past glory isn’t serving your objective of getting back to your healthy habits—it’s merely distracting you from getting started back with your fitness.
While you may not be as happy as you were with your old physique, odds are those perceived happy moments floating in your head weren’t as sunny as you think. Those happy moments were most likely brief because you moved on to the next objective.
Why weren't you as happy in the past as you think you were?
You most likely created a different story and character that glosses over the not-so-fun moments (we’re all guilty of this). You’re creating a story presently that fits what your beliefs are; thus, you’re idealizing your past while subconsciously torturing your present self.
Happiness is fleeting and as we accomplish fitness and physique goals, our default baseline and expectations grow as well.
Examples of the self-imposed expectations curse/syndrome
To many people, I look great. I appear to have above average muscularity, strength, and athletic abilities. However, I don’t see myself close to what the world sees me because I know at one point in time, I was leaner, stronger, faster, and more conditioned.
I see someone who is heavier, weaker and gets tired quicker than he used to. In my head, I remember the 165-pound kid who became a lean 200-pounds. Now that I’m not in this peak physical condition, I feel like a disappointment and a fraud because of the expectations from myself and the comments of others about how healthy I am.
Far too often, I’ll hear clients and random people talk in the gym about how they used to be this or that. Obsessing over the past and idealizing what you used to look like leads to feelings of despair, hopelessness, self-hate, worthlessness, and a defeaters attitude before even beginning your new fitness endeavor.
As the things in the past become more and more distant, our stories and perceptions of those events become more skewed.
This step of falling back in love with yourself starts with accepting your current circumstances and forgiving yourself for everything that has transpired.
2.Be rational, objective, & reframe your situation
During my tumultuous portion of 2015, I ate like shit and treated myself poorly without any remorse.
Did I gain weight? Absolutely.
Did I gain some fat? Absolutely.
The scale told me I was 15lbs heavier and at one point 20. Was all this fat? Absolutely not.
Why is that?
The scale is a liar and doesn’t consider your water weight a key contributor to the sudden flux of added weight. Don’t let the scale play games with your heart (embarrassingly, typing this brings back memories of the Backstreet Boys).
Most of the excess calories and junk we consume is from carbohydrates. Knowing this, it’s imperative that you remember that carbs pull in twice the amount of water into our cells compared to the other macronutrients.
It takes an excess of 3500 calories to gain a pound of fat. Do you really think you ate that much(this doesn’t even factor in the calories you burn on a daily basis)?
Looking at the big picture, it's doubtful that your excess weight in this time frame is all fat. Most of your excess weight consist of water. A few careless weeks isn’t going to significantly raise your body fat.
Everyone falls off the wagon & loses their way. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up for it. I tried this and it only leads to negative self-talk and beliefs that I couldn’t get back to where I used to be. Instead of criticizing & self-loathing, approach this fitness reset with some compassion. Look at the past objectively, view the present with optimism, and look to the future with endless possibilities.
3.Just focus on doing
Woody Allen, one of my favorite directors, once said: “half of life is showing up.”
When it comes to climbing back aboard with our fitness, let’s increase this number to 90%.
You can worry about toning your thighs, how much weight you have to lose, the amount you want to bench, or how big you want your arms—that shit is irrelevant. It’s about doing and being. The type of action or exercising performed isn’t the priority, it’s the simple act of exercising that should be the focus. You can always switch later, you just need to get back into the correct mindset of being active.
What does this mean?
Think about the habits and character traits that you desire more so than the results you seek. Those results only manifest through the implementation of those positive habits and character traits.
You can’t control the timetable for results and other outside metrics, but you can control the actions and habits necessary to give yourself the best chance of making those desires a reality.
4.Have an intro/re-load week
Your main mission in the first week back into your fitness routine is to complete the days and habits establish at the beginning of the week.
You’re going to equip and condition your mind back into the necessary routine for success while establishing a baseline for where you currently stand.
Focus on getting back into the groove (oh Madonna, I couldn’t help it).
Here’s a sample list for week one to get you back into the groove:
- Create a mission list– this serves as your checklist to operate throughout the week
- Front load your work– try to identify your 3 biggest obstacles before setting forth on your reload week. Doing this keeps you one step in front of potential obstacles and distractions along the way.
- Sample objectives– hit calorie/diet goals with 80% compliance, workout three times this week, and walk 30 minutes 5 days this week
- Leave nothing to chance– Pack your gym clothes in the morning & go immediately after work. Batch your meals if you need to.
- Make it real– Put your gym time on a calendar and only cancel for true emergencies. If it’s on your schedule, it’s real and you avoid the excuse of something came up.
- No need to get fancy– Commit to working out 15-25 minutes, doing a few exercises (think compound movements). Here's a guide to building an efficient & effective routine beyond the intro week.
- Don't forget old faithful– Get quality sleep each and every night. (7 hours minimum). If you're far from this number, take small steps in 15-30 minute increments to get closer.
Ok, you got through the first week, how tough was it? What are your strengths? What about your weaknesses? How far could you walk? How was your conditioning levels? How did your eating go?
These are your baseline parameters from which to operate from in the upcoming weeks. Your only objective is to improve upon the intro week metrics…nothing else
5.Show some gratitude
It’s not sexy, but appreciating yourself works wonders for your psyche. Take a moment and think about how you felt and what you were capable of before you ever started to workout. Think about what accomplishing those first few fitness goals felt like?
You probably felt on top of the world, like nothing was impossible. But as we know by now, happiness is fleeting. With success comes raised expectations which are where you currently sit. You know what you can do and what you’ve accomplished in the past. Think about your mindset currently and realize what you expect now out of yourself is most likely something you didn’t expect ever out of yourself.
That's a damn good feeling that you must never forget. So while you’re striving to fall back in love with fitness, think about what you initially wanted to do and accomplish.
For some, it was losing 20lbs, benching 200lbs, playing in the park with their kids without running out of breath, run a marathon, get off blood pressure medications and other various medications.
It’s about perspective. We can look back on our past fitness selves and accomplishments, but let’s also look back to square one before we accomplished anything and look where we are now.
Give thanks to what has been accomplished, but realize that the best is yet to happen. Version 2.0 of yourself is waiting. Crush your previous baseline numbers, take it slow, and go have some fun