The Journey Back to a Fitter Me: Will You Join Me?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The funny thing about improving your fitness level is that it doesn't easily get better, but it does easily get worse.  It can take months, sometimes longer, to see real progress.  Feeling like you're lifting heavier weights at the gym or  lasting longer on the elliptical without gasping for air doesn't usually come without effort.  But take a few weeks or a month off, and you can feel like you're starting again from ground zero.  That's something I'm personally struggling with right now.  How do you find the motivation to start over?  Does the thought of a challenge fuel your motivation, or discourage you from beginning? 

Recently, I had my third child.  I've always prided myself on being active during pregnancy, continuing to run until the week my first two were born.  This pregnancy was very different.  My body didn't respond quite as well, and by the time I was 6 months along, running was a dream more than a reality.  I had to significantly slow down in order to take care of my kids and just as importantly, myself.  A year ago, a 6-mile run would have been a nice weekday workout.  Now it's an intimidating goal that is going to take me time to tackle.  Having the endurance, much less the time for an hour of exercise each day is going to be difficult at this point.

Whether your exercise program gets derailed because of a new job, a new baby, a new injury or just new priorities, it's frustrating to start over.  Slow and steady can be a tough pill to swallow, especially if you're slightly impatient like me.  I want everything to come back all at once, but I know it's not that simple.  So after a lot of thought, I've come up with a plan to get fit again.  I've decided to document my journey and hope that if you're someone who's struggling too, you'll join me.  With three children 5 and under, I can't expect to do what I did 10 years ago.  But I can expect to be someone who's proud of her strength and endurance and is setting a positive example for friends and family. 

Step 1:  Get back into a regular routine.  Routine is tricky for me with a newborn who doesn't sleep consistently, and two other little ones who are vying for my time.  I like to exercise first thing in the morning, but I don't think that's something I can commit to on a regular basis- at least not yet.  So for now, my goal is to exercise for 20-30 minutes, 4 times a week.  I can probably make at least one of those a weekday morning workout, which means the others will be scheduled for evenings or weekends when my husband is home to watch the kids.  My exercise time is "my" time, so at this point I don't want to try to workout when the kids are up and running around.  But I'm willing to be flexible, and if that's really going to be the only time I have to do it, I'll suck it up for a while and make it work.  I've decided to start with walking and strength training videos, with the hope that I can progress back into running soon.  For now, I'm just focused on developing a consistent routine.
If you're struggling to make exercise a regular part of your life, can you begin Step 1 with me?  Can you start with 3-4 days of exercise each week?  It doesn't have to be 20-30 minutes- you can build up to that level over time if you need to.  If it's easier for you, start with a daily exercise streak.  SparkGuy's 10-Minute Fitness Challenge is a great way to build consistency.

Next week I'll share how things went this week, and then discuss Step 2 in my plan to get moving again! 

What do you think?  Will you join me?

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Yes, I am with you. I have hurt my back. Its hard to work out when your back is not willing to let you. Slow and steady for me... Report
I guess I am somewhat "blessed" as I am treated as the "joe boy" by my employer (even though I have the MOST education!! :( ) so I get more than my fair share of the grunt work - but its a double edged sword as sometimes I truly am too burnt out to exercise when I get home. Groan. Report
I'm in too. I was doing so well, Jazzercise every day, then I started the 10,000 steps a day when the weather got nice. Then I was laid off from my job and am trying to start a business. Needless to say the exercise thing got pushed off the schedule. I am ready to get back into the game. I am going to start with the 10,000 steps again. and work my way up to running. Going to do at least 2 if not 3 days a week of strength training. So I am feelin ya and moving forward with you. good luck. Report
Can I just say, I could have written this myself. I too just gave birth to my 3rd child. She is 7 weeks old and I thought I could jump right back into my old routine. And it's just not happening this time around. I'm definitely in with Step 1. Just establishing a routine would work wonders right now. Report
I have been dealing with injuries for the last year. As soon as I get better, I hurt myself again. Count me in! Report
What perfect timing you have!! I used to walk and use exercise bike 6-7 times a week, but for the past six months I had a family member staying with me that needed a great deal of time and care so most days although I felt I ran myself ragged I wasn't getting proper exercise....or sleep. Next week life will return to "normal", and I was already psyching myself up to get back into the walking/cycling routine, but knowing I will probably take a bit of time to get totally back into the groove. Thanks for the motivation, and I'm definitely in!! I plan to walk and/or ride at least 6 days a week, but working up to my previous levels over a few weeks. Report
I run on the weekends, but work and personal commitments have been cutting into my weekday workouts. What a great incentive to step it up during the week! Report
You have small children and can do it; what's my excuse? I'm in. Report
I am attempting to build myself to do small jog/runs in hopes of one day being able to run greater distances. Report
I have been doing water aerobics 3x a week , but do no other exercise. I want to start walking daily. Running?? I haven't run anywhere since I was a kid. I will join you. I've got all the time in the world and no excuses. Report
I am also still struggling to make time for exercise and I don't know why. I've tried mornings, evenings, and random times of the day, but nothing gets 'regular.' I'm with you though. I am going to have to pick a chunk of time and set it aside for me to do this. Thanks for this blog - and this challenge. Report
I also have 3 under 5 mine are 2,3,and 4 you are inspiring! let's do this thing! Report
I was just cleared by my Ortho doctor to start an exercise program. I have ordered the stronger Seniors "chair exercise" DVDs and am looking forward to "beginning again." Glad to see your enthusiasm to do the same. Bless us both as we begin this new phase of our journey to a healthier new us!
I'm in. I recently had twins and need to loose the extra pounds I put on. Report
I am with you. I am restarting again after a 3 week stop from working out. My daughter had her tonsils out and all hell broke loose. she had 3 surgeries in 12 days. so...had to start low again. today was my first day really "back" to where I was and I am in agony. LOL Report
I started this about a year ago. For me part of the solution to find time was to excercise at home (in winter time) in the attic when the kids are in bed. Soon as they are asleep (I used to wait 30 min) I could put on the music and start without disturbing them.
Everybody good luck, we can do this (starting/continuing) an active life style. Report
Wow, what a great blog!! Thank you for writing something very inspiring! You have helped me set some goals for myself since I am restarting-- again! Count me in on Step 1! Report
I'll give it a try. Report
Enjoyed reading about your restart. I am with you! Having just moved to a new city and job...I need all the motivation I can get. I like your plan of 3 to 4 days a week. Let's all do it! Report
I'm in. This was just what I needed to see today. I'm lucky to fit in a 20 minute walk these days, when I used to do an hour at the gym, so I totally understand where you're coming from. Report
Yes I need to get back on this plan. I think the new levels of stress I am feeling need to be addressed and just heard about my latest blood tests and that is not good again either. I have got to get a plan and stick to it. 10 minutes at a time might just be the way to get started again Report
Yes I think I would I need something to get me going I just can not seem to get going on a regular program and stick with. I do more back stepping than I do a forward motion Report
I'm in, I'm so in! I'm going to start with 150 mins of cardio a week (sans warm-up and cool-downs of course) and 2 strength sessions a week. Report
Yes, I will join you. First week back and I'm loving it! Report
I have just re-started too! Been working hard for the past three weeks, working up to more fitness each week. The SparkPeople cookbook has been a great springboard for healthy eating, too. Report
You are such a motivation! I will join you! Report
Git Er Done!! Report
Yes I will start over with you. The past two years have been the hardest of my life and I keep starting and never making it past the first week. Now I'm in the worst shape of my life and have no choice but to slowly get back where I was and then from there get to my goals. Report
I WILL join you as I have been having such a tough time getting back to it. Time is my issue, but lately effort has been too, and I just can't even begin to figure out why. I just happened to hop on my exercise bike for 15 minutes today, now I really wish I had done 20! But no looking back, I'm in.. Is there a way to subscribe to your blogs? I'm going to look. Good luck to you (and to me and anyone else who jumps on this bandwagon!!), and congratulations on your new baby!! Report
Hi and congratulations on your little one!

I'm with you and really need to get back in action. I've just had a big operation and after months of suffering whilst waiting for it, the last thing I've felt like is exercising - so here's me back with you! Report
Congratulations on baby #3!

Getting back into a routine is the hardest part, but you'll find what works for you. For me, including DD in my workouts makes it much easier. She sings songs as I run, pushing her in the stroller. She mimics my yoga poses, and dances around during aerobics videos.

(I also trained her to say "YAY, Mommy!" at random intervals... it's incredibly motivating!!)

If all else fails, there's always nap time! Report
OK, I'm in. I always get lazy when summer changes to Autumn and I've been seeing bad habits emerging. I started making more time for exercise last week and this will keep me moving forward! Report
Congratulations on your new baby! And thank you for this blog post which is very timely for me coming back from a hip injury at the beginning of my third week of bootcamp. I ran and weight trained in my earlier years but at 62 it doesn't seem to take much to get something out of whack and longer to get back up to speed afterward. I have to keep plugging away since my first grandchild was born just last week and I'd like to be here for him as long as possible! Report
At age 44 I carried 180 pounds on my 5 ft body, got disgusted with myself and started making my health a priority. By age 47 I weighed 115, was running 50 miles a week, with strength training 4 days a week. I felt AWESOME. Life circumstances changed, I have exercised very sporadically, easily becoming discouaraged. My weight has increased to 165. With working 2 jobs and needing to focus on my family's needs I struggle to find exercise time while it's too easy to graze on unhealthy food while working at the computer. I woke up this morning deciding to make a change. Your blog was perfect timing. Thank you. I'm in! Report
Feel the same way!! Thanks for sharing this... we are not alone! Let's begin!! Report
Jen, I will join you! Report
2011 has been a bad year for me. Started last November when I broke my arm and couldn't work out for 6 weeks. Then the weather was bad, then my mom got sick, then my cousin got worst and then he passed away. In this time I did a 1/2 marathon in May, a 10 km in June and 16 km in Aug... but couldn't do another 1/2 marathon in Oct (although I had registered for it). I'm just in terrible shape... have gained at least 20 lbs, am inflexible, feel ankle pains, etc. I've been starting over for months!

I guess there have been no end of excuses... but the bottom line is - I'm in terrible shape, feel terrible and look worst. No more excuses... I need to do it NOW.

I'm in. Bring it on!!! Report
Jen, I have been trying to restart after a year away from the excellent progress I made over the course of four months...I'm so glad to join you in this challenge! Report
I'm in. Thanks for sharing your restart with us. Report
The more time off the harder it seems to be to get back where we were. It's a good thing our bodies are so adaptable once we start working out again. Good luck with the new addition and getting back up to speed. Report
I have just started again this week. So I am definitely with you. Kids knee injuries our own business and too much in the way of volunteering at the local soccer club have definitely taken there toll over the last 5 years. I went for a 2km walk around our property this morning I am still having trouble breathing. Still I have exercised every day since Sunday. This is a move in the right direction. Well done. I look forward to next weeks post. Report
I sure understand..the long road back.. for life gains and loses.. weight wise. I have accomplished a lot over the last 13 years. Have built my own blocks, emotionally or mentally. One day at a time I can succeed. Now and then I wake up had have to start over. But that is a progress as long as we do not quite working toward our goals in life weight wise and other wise. Wish every one much success. Report
Yes m'am I'm right there with you! Report
Please count me in too! Your blog is so true. I feel so out of control and useless. Report
Babies can sure change the routine. I haven't ran regularly since my 3rd daughter was born. She will be 7 in January. Report
I'm coming back from a terrible 5 week chest cold. I hope to be back to speed, endurance and strength in a month, but if it takes longer, it takes longer. We'll see. I'm joining you!! Report
Like so many others, I too am in the same boat. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone and sounds like a great goals and looking forward to next week. I enjoy my exercise time to destress and boy have i missed that! Report
I'm in!! After 2 months off (for no good reason really...) I'm looking to get back into shape again. Congrats to you, and good luck with the program!! Report
I know you can do it! I have been on this journey since January. We did a 21-day fast at my church to start the new year. I committed to the fast but added a 1hr walk each morning to start the day. Not saying it was easy but after the 3 wks, I just kept going. Praying along with the walking has a huge impact for me. I now do at least 5 days a week and being over 50 is no problem! Having lost weight is great but enjoying the "me time" walks are priceless. Keep the faith & the rest will follow :-) Report
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