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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Great article, Jen. I'm going to start with exercising 3-4times a week . Report
I'm starting over again just like you. Best of luck. Report
I joined the 10 minute challenge because if I can get the first ten in then I continue! Keep being kind to yourself about perspective! Life is very complicated with little ones yet you are managing to carve out some exercise time! They will not be little for long and you are doing all the right things to stay in the game in a reasonable and steady way! Report
I'd love to join you, I just feel so inadequate not being a mom!!!! Report
I'm glad to have come across this blog Report
I am happy to say I am still in the honeymoon phase of my journey. I have worked to a point where I am really bothered if I miss a workout, so " lazy" is not a factor just yet. I'll keep this in mind tough, for the future, if I see this issue heading my way. Report
It's gotten to the point where I can't stand to miss my morning spin on the exercycle, and I love it! I'm in! Report
Creating a healthy routine can be difficult. But, routines turn into habits and that is my ultimate goal—to have a healthy exercise routine that can be counted on like clockwork. I want exercising to become just as natural as breathing. It will mean overcoming my impatient immediate gratification tendencies, getting by my procrastinating nature and letting go of the thoughts that thing have to be perfect all the time. So, yes I will join you on your journey; so that we can look back over our journey and at the end find that we are in fact fitter and ready to take on our next goal. So, step by step; I am ready to get up off the couch and put one foot in front of the other towards creating the fitter me that I know that I can be! Step 1—Get back into a regular exercise routine. Start by re-committing myself to the SparkGuy’s 10-Minutes Fitness Challenge. We can all do this; starting right now—today…not tomorrow! Report
Believe me when I say I know how it feels to want it all back immediately...right now, even! I was just dealing with my impatience on this journey...but I realize that I didn't get out shape overnight, so I won't be able to get in shape overnight. Impatience is my enemy and will not let it win...I will not let it derail me.

Right now, I try to walk everyday...either I take a walk on my break at work, or I go to the fitness center and get on the treadmill...I've even tried the walking DVD's. I'm just getting into the strength training, but I look forward to really building that part of my fitness routine.

Thanks for sharing your goals and you plan. Report
Me too! Report
At 64 years old, I´ve decided to get back into jogging. I have started with walking on treadmill, and walked a 5 KM so far.In 2012 my goal is to continue to loose weight, and finish at least one 10 KM. and as many 5 km´s as can be found in my area of Ecuador. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn´t come easily, but is a wonderful experience.
Thank you! I will be joining you. This is just what I need. Report
Just what I need - Thanks for your invitation and efforts! Report
I started eating well, tracking my food and began exercising as part of a diabetes prevention program 27 months ago. I lost 72 but have gained some back. Along the way I learned to love swimming. I was doing lots of walking and lifting weights until I had a prolapsed uterus. This coming MOnday I am having a hysterectomy. I am a bit scared of the procedure, but even more than that I am scared to not exercise for a few weeks! I LOVE my swimming the most! Doc says the earliest I can get into the pool will be 2 weeks post op. I will definitely be joining you asap! Report
Very proad of you, count me in :-) Report
Count me in! The worst part for me is trying to get into a routine. I have great intentions but by the time I'm done work and get home I'm just too tired. By adding in about 10 minutes each day I know I can achieve my goals Report
Count me in. I started a similar gradual restart last Thur & so far have gotten in 10-25 daily. No strength work yet though - sigh - I better fit THAT in today, huh. Trouble is with the cardio w/me, I think I may have some arthritis in my hips, & if I don't exercise I get stiff, but if I exercise too much, I get bursitis. Trying to find moderation here. Report
Thanks for the motivation. I used to work out regularly, 6 days a week, and after surgery I had several years ago I've been on a work out roller coaster. I plan to take that first step with you. It is better to do something than nothing at all, even if it isn't at the level I used to do. Report
So glad I found this blog! I'm looking forward to this! Report
I'm in too! Thanks for the motivation. Report
I am in this wonderful journey with you and excited about the things that are to come for us. I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenges that come my way. Report
Thanks for the encouraging blog. I can totally relate. I have 3 kids, all under the age of 7. I haven't been able to find the time or energy to fit in a exercise schedule. Especially now that I'm working full-time. I always hear that workouts should be the same time everyday but you mentioning "exercise when you can" makes me feel that it is possible to get back on track. I've made it a goal to use my breaks to walk and hopefully my whole lunch hour to walk. I've gained so much weight since I had my baby and I've been a bit depressed. So thank you for sharing. Report
I agree with you and will continue my routine and join you. Consistency is the key and making it a part of your life is important just like taking a shower, brushing your teeth or planning your day. Report
It makes so much sense to ease back into the routine. I get so overwhelmed with the thought of working out cuz I know I wouldn't make 10 minutes at the intensity that I was at before I quit. A lightbulb went on when you mentioned to simple get a routine going again- even it is 10 minutes- the habit needs to be built back up. I get this silly all or nothing I can;t train for an hour, then I won't do any training at all... silly silly silly girl i am! Report
I will definitely join you, I was doing soo good, but as you mentioned for one reason or the other I havent been exercising lately and now I am feeling very heavy and with no energy, which is the worst feeling ever.! Report
I just joined the 10 Minute Fitness challenge. Day 1 for me. Good luck everyone. Report
I keep putting exercise off or starting it and then stopping. I have no little ones.. I'm retired ... I have no excuses! I just feel I have no self-discipline. It's always "tomorrow" for me. But now I'm going to start exercising and keep reading blogs like this so I can be motivated daily. THANKS! I needed that! Report
You can count me in Report
Awesome! I'm in- I actually made this my goal yesterday(before I read this article)!
I have 3 kids too, but the oldest only just turned three, and my youngest is 8 weeks old. I've been getting into regular exercise again since her birth, for the first time since my mid teens, and it feels so good! The last couple of weeks have been a bit slack- just getting away for 40 minutes is a challenge in and of itself. But it makes such a difference to my energy level that that alone is motivation enough to keep it up.
My goal: to go for a 40 minute walk/jog 3-4 times per week, and continue the 15-20 minutes of stretching and strength exercises at least 5 nights a week. Report
Im in, did really well for a couple of years then, well, I can blame the rain, the time, but basically out of routine I developed "laziness" fighting it now. I will: 2 mornings 60min boot camp (this is working because of the others in the group), and 2-3 walks(hopefully progressing to jogging) a week. Report
Count me in. If you can do it with 3 little ones under 5 years, I can do it. I'll ride my recumbent bicycle for 30 minutes a day/ 6 days a week. Congratulations on baby #3. I had 4 children, and now enjoy grandchildren. Report
Great Blog! All summer I combined walking and water aerobics, often having 120 minutes of daily exercise, 5 or 6 days a week. Then something happened to my neck and back and doctor reluctantly said (after 3 weeks) that I could walk 15 minutes daily.
Today I did 20 minutes in AM and 15 in evening and it felt good. But I must see orthopedic doctor to find the real problem. Sure wish I could exercise more.
As a Senior, my insurance provides the Silver Sneakers program and this winter I had planned to take advantage of it. Sure hope I can. Report
I'm in. I re-started my routine of walking on the treadmill 30 min 3X weekly. Two days for strength training. Have to get back to this schedule. Report
I'm in. I know I need to exercise, i was in good shape, and finished two marathons. Now, I found all the weight I lost, plus lost conditioning. I'm tired of this and ready to change. Report
I agree whole-heartedly. I hurt my knee 2 months ago and didn't go to the gym for a week. It took me several weeks to get back up to speed on the weight machines, especially the ones using my knees. Last Saturday I hurt my heel. I hope it doesn't take that long to get back up to speed with that injury. I think I will take your advise and have patience getting back to working out. Thanks. Report
I'm in! I just rededicated myself to SparkPeople after a nearly three-week layoff, during which I gained back 4.4 lbs. I needed this kickstart - great blog! Report
I just joined sp again and this is what I've been dealing with. Now that I've stayed so far away from the habits that I was procurring for myself, I'm back at square one. It makes me sick but this is just what I needed. I'm in. Thanks, Jen. Report
I'm in! It's been longer than I care to know since I've been doing any sort of regular exercise which is disappointing since I used to be so active. But here's my chance for a fresh start. 30 minutes/3 times a week. I CAN and WILL do it. Report
Thanks for sharing. I'm sure this is what I needed to read Report
Me too! Report
I'm definitely in! It's so funny because I literally just finished making a weekly schedule that includes at least 30 mins of exercise. I figured if i wrote it down on paper it would motivate me more, I know I can do everything else on that list and having that being the only item not checked will hopefully give me the push I need. Weekly check ins will definitely give me that extra push. Report
I'm definitely in. I have been exercising for 6 weeks non stop, but the last week, I stopped. Since then, I'm struggling to eat well and to get the motivation to get back to the track. Fortunately, I started exercising again today . I understand how you must be feeling right now. But don't worry, together, we'll be able to do it. We'll get fitter and lose all the excess weight...!!!!!!!!!! Report
I love your enthusiasm and determination! I know you said you prefer to work out alone, but maybe your kids can even become exercise partners for you on the days that you don't have the opportunity for solo workouts. I used to strap my nephew into a hiking backpack and push my son in his stroller so I could get some great exercise while taking them to the park or the library. They loved it and their enthusiasm helped keep me motivated too! Report
I am so glad I read your blog! There is so much negative chatter going on in my head about my weight and health and I am so done with it. Today I begin... Report
Just the motivation I need to get back into an exercise routine. It has been too long. Thank You :). Report
I'm in! I've been trying to psych myself up to getting back into a regular routine; I too have bad knees, so will start with dance, until I drop some weight, then can add variety....Congrats on your beautiful family, & thanks for the encouragement - I'm gonna DO this!!! Report
Count me in. I need to exercise to stay healthy and reduce stress, and this time I'll make time to exercise, not excuses. Report
Thanks for sharing and being honest. Sometimes we assume that we are alone in our struggles. Been a very hectic few months but I'm ready to get back to a regular routine. Count me in! Report
I am with you. I moved a small stepping machine into the family room a few months ago; was diligent about using it until I became ill. Will be using it in small increments--what is your saying? Slow and steady. Report
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