It’s Ok to Start Over: How to Get Back on Track With Working Out

Slow and steady wins the race.

By: Dominique Michelle Astorino

Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or have fallen a bit off track, it’s important to know that it’s always ok to either pick up where you left off or start over and get back on track with working out. So, whether it’s been a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years, that’s okay! Now’s your time to hit the refresh button. 

Why It’s More Than Ok to Start Over 

Many of us go through periods where we find ourselves too busy or even too stressed to exercise as much as we would like. It’s like being in a paradox of exercise stress — so stressed that we can’t bring ourselves to exercise, but then feeling more stressed from the lack of exercise (since we know that fitness is a stress-reliever!). This vicious cycle can leave us falling out of our healthy routines. 

But, it doesn’t matter why you stopped, and it’s more than okay that you took a break — what matters most is your decision to recommit to your body, your mind, your health, and your wellbeing. Exercise is a fundamental part of our everyday lives, and your enthusiasm for getting back on the wagon is what will drive you to personal success. Plus, think about how much better it is to start over than to give up… you’re going to feel so fantastic in just a short time. 

How to Ease Back Into a Fitness Routine After a Break

Now let’s get down to it — overcoming that initial hurdle of starting over. 

Adjust Your Expectations

This one is perhaps the most important, particularly if you were on the more advanced or seasoned side before your exercise hiatus. Your body will likely feel different, and you may not be able to do the same things you could before. This is OK! Though it’s frustrating to not have the same stamina — perhaps you can’t do as many push-ups or get through a vigorous 45-minute HIIT class — you’ll be back to your former self sooner than you realize. Don’t force it, don’t beat yourself up, and keep your expectations reasonable. You’re a human being, and this is a normal process. You’ve got this!

Keep it Minimal

When you’re just getting back into it, the hour-long workouts of your ‘pre-fitness-sabbatical’ phase can feel exceptionally daunting — and that might leave you too intimidated to start at all. The antidote? Start small! Try just one small daily movement — some squats, some crunches — or a super short workout a few times per week. Try five minutes (even if that sounds too short) and just see how you feel. After five minutes, you can say, “I worked out today,” and you might feel the momentum building from there. 

RELATED: 20 Sneaky Ways to Move More Even on Your Busiest Days

Take Things One Day at a Time

This process isn’t linear (you’re not going to look at your progress like a line graph with one arrow just heading straight up!). There may be days when you feel like you have setbacks; maybe you can’t complete a longer workout, or you feel more sore, or you’re just overwhelmed. Again — that’s totally alright. Remember your adjusted expectations, go back to a five-minute workout or a daily exercise move, and keep going. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Give yourself a pat on the back for your effort. Seriously — it sounds corny, but the way we talk to ourselves has a serious impact on our mood and behavior, and you’re much more likely to stick to a routine if you’re getting that positive, internal encouragement. Even when it seems tough, or you feel like you’re not doing ‘enough,’ remind yourself that you’re working out again — and that’s an improvement from when you weren’t working out at all!

Set Small, Realistic Goals

Your goals now are going to look a little different than they did a few months or years ago. Again — we’re back with the adjusted expectations! But goals are just as important now as they were then and just as important as they were when you were a complete beginner. Give yourself small benchmarks to mark your improvement, whether that’s a certain amount of minutes for the duration of your workouts, a few seconds shorter on a mile time, a few more sit-ups or burpees, or a week streak of working out — make it work for you!

Join a FitOn Challenge

Sometimes you need structure to get yourself back on track and give you the support and focus you’ve been lacking; that’s what we’re here for! Sign yourself up for a FitOn challenge to give yourself a focused goal and program that’ll keep you committed. You’ll be so focused on the challenge that you may forget that you took a break at all. 

Have an Accountability Partner

Social accountability is a great way to keep yourself on track and get the support necessary to commit to your health. Perhaps you have a friend, family member, or even coworker who is in a similar spot and hasn’t worked out in a while; buddy up and check in with one another to form your own unit of strength. You can even work out together virtually (or in-person if you’re close by) and have someone who keeps you to your schedule. This shared experience will make you both healthier and create a bond between you.

The Takeaway 

We’re all human — and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can accept ourselves and the seasons of life we all go through. If you’ve fallen out of your routine, you are so far from alone in that. The best part is, you can approach this new season with the curious, excited eyes of a beginner — but also with the knowledge of how wonderful you’ll feel once you get back into it because you’ve already been there! We’re so proud of you for making this commitment to yourself, and we’re here with you every step of the way. Now let’s do this!