Getting Motivated After a Fitness Slump

Getting Motivated After a Fitness Slump

Earlier this year I had invasive surgery. Like most surgeries, it was a significant setback for me physically. I couldn’t workout for many weeks and my muscles had been severed during the procedure. When I coached a fitness and nutrition challenge three months later, I felt that my strength overall was only about 30% recovered. I didn’t appreciate how I felt or looked, but the reward of working with the team outweighed my personal struggles.

When the challenge ended, I went out of town, did an intense workout, slept in a different bed and consequently had a flare-up with my back. I have subtle scoliosis that has caused spinal issues since I was a teen. As always, it was painful and, once again, I could not workout. Instead, I walked, stretched (a lot), foam rolled and alternated ice and heat. It seemed like forever, but after about a week of TLC, the back pain dissipated. 

THEN, literally the next day, I re-injured an old broken toe. Seriously! When it stopped throbbing two days later, I finally stepped back into my home workout room, but I felt defeated. This series of events over several months had left me much weaker, with higher body fat, little stamina and no motivation. 

I sat down alone in my gym, wallowed in my frustration and let self-doubt overcome me. I thought for a hot minute about quitting everything, even my health coaching. I texted my husband and whined. I questioned my passions. How can I inspire others if I don’t feel adequate? I can’t even do a “real” push-up right now. I should just quit!

Then I remembered the other times in the past when I felt that I could not regain my mental or physical strength, yet I did. After I bulged discs in my back. After I gave up my love of ballet and gained weight in college. After three pregnancies and c-sections. After the stress of caring for my sick husband with three small children. After grieving his death and feeling like I would never get out of bed again. 

Each time, I knew that I had to pick myself back up, even with zero desire. 

When I sat in my home gym reflecting on those bittersweet memories, I chuckled. Here I am, once again, with a relatively minor setback, and I am considering quitting. Really? No. I will not quit. Even though I am almost 48 years old and don’t always love what I see in the mirror or on the scale, I am so grateful that the years ARE passing, and I am here with a beautiful family and healthy body. I have nothing to lose by trying; everything to lose by quitting.

So, despite my self-pity, I just did it. I started with an eight minute cardio warm-up. It felt really hard. Then I picked up hand weights and a band and went to work. When it was over, 45 minutes had passed, I was sweaty and buzzing with joy. I made a healthy dinner with two of my teens and felt blissful as the endorphins worked their magic. I took a hot epsom salt bath (essential for sore muscles) then slept well. The next day I went back into my little gym and did it again. And repeated that the next day. 

And that’s how it’s done. One small step, one day at a time. 

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever cross the finish line of my physical goals. Probably not. My goals are admittedly a little unrealistic, and time and gravity are working against me. But regardless, I will continue to push myself forward through each setback, even when I want to quit. Even when I don’t think I will ever “win.” So I can feel proud of myself and help other people on the same journey.

Setbacks are often unavoidable, but what do you gain if you give up? Nothing. What do you gain if you keep pushing yourself? So much. Feeling proud of yourself, healthier, more energized, less stressed, less depressed and anxious, and like a stronger, more empowered YOU. 


These are my top tips for getting motivated when you’re in a fitness slump:

Just show up

Even if you don’t have a plan or any desire. Tell yourself you will just do something gentle for 15-20 minutes. Go for a walk, ride a bike, stretch. Get started and you will likely want to keep going.

Schedule it in advance on your calendar

Even if it means getting up earlier or starting happy hour 30 minutes later, just do it. Make it a priority, like work and appointments.

Focus on the internal benefits of exercise

Usually the thought of losing 20 pounds or getting in shape is daunting. Instead, make a list of the internal benefits of being physically active: better mood, stress management, reduced depression, better sleep. Review that list regularly, and remember that you will change internally before externally.

Read more in this blog:

Five Ways to Make Fitness a Lifestyle | balanceisbest

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Five Ways to Make Fitness a Lifestyle

Five Ways to Make Fitness a Lifestyle

Making physical fitness a constant in your life requires more than willpower. A healthy, fit lifestyle requires longterm dedication and a little creativity. These five tips will help keep you committed to your fitness goals.

1. Schedule it

My number one rule of thumb for maintaining a physical fitness routine is scheduling it in your calendar in advance. That means at the beginning of every month, make a note of the days you will workout, including specifics like what time, where and what you will do. Then, when conflicts arise, schedule them around the workouts like they are very important meetings, because they are. You don’t have to tell the dentist that you’re not available for your root canal for six weeks because you have Pilates.

Taking care of your health is a top priority, not an afterthought. That’s why you can’t wait until each morning to decide if you’re going to get physical that day because there’s an excellent chance you won’t be able to squeeze it in. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and schedules have to change, but that’s okay because your workout can go somewhere else on the calendar. Don’t delete it; move it to a different day and remember: consistency is the key to your health.

Only YOU can make your well-being a priority.

2. Find your happy place

Quite often, when people decide to get back on the fitness wagon, they dust off the ‘ol gym membership card that is buried in the car console and try to repeat the same workout that they gave up six months ago, only to give up again. Has that happened to you?

Maybe you haven’t maintained a fitness regime in the past because you need to get creative and try something new. If you feel uncomfortable at a gym, set up a space at home where you can do a 30-minute workout without any watchful eyes. Or try a new activity that has always interested you, like spin, hiking or a group fitness class.

What about something you enjoyed when you were younger like swimming or dancing? Have you always thought about trying yoga or kickboxing? Do it! Try something different, or better yet, go back to an activity you used to love.

Resist the urge to return to a mindset that has set you up for failure in the past.

3. Be counted on

You may be surprised to know that most fitness professionals have their own personal trainers. Why would someone pay another person to show them how to do something they know how to do? Because it keeps them motivated and accountable.

Most of us won’t do hard things for our own good, but we will do it if someone is pushing and counting on us. I can’t tell you how many times I have been exhausted with deadlines looming only to look at my calendar and realize I have a workout scheduled with a trainer. Do you think I blow off my trainer and pay for an hour that I didn’t use? Heck no. I show up and magically the exhaustion passes and the deadlines get fulfilled. Finding a trainer, workout buddy or online fitness group can be the key to your success.

Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.

– Bob Proctor

4. Don’t check in with your feelings

I’m sorry to tell you, your feelings can be big, dumb liars. You do not ask yourself if you feel like setting your alarm for work on Monday, so why ask yourself if you feel like working out? Waiting for workout willpower is like waiting for your kids to do the laundry so you can wear your favorite outfit. It probably won’t happen. Ever. And the longer you go without fitness, the less you will feel like doing it.

So next time your calendar says “Home weights workout, 9 am,” push away all thoughts that are negative. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, you just got a perfect blowout, your cute leggings are dirty and the temperature is not quite 82 degrees with a light breeze. I like to annoyingly remind people that the man who runs down your street every morning at 6 am, rain or shine, did not wake up in his warm bed in the mood to run.

Stay committed to your plan, despite emotions, and remind yourself that once you get started, you will get in the mood. You just will. And when you are done and get that wonderful dose of adrenaline, you should high-five yourself, and make a positive mental note for next time.

I wish I didn’t workout today, said no one ever.

5. Reassess your downtime

I saved this for last because this one is always a touchy subject. Ready? Most of the people I encounter want to make positive changes in their lives, but don’t want to make a change. What do I mean by that? I mean the same people who binge-watch Game of Thrones, never miss a happy hour and sleep-in every weekend usually say there’s no time for exercise. I told you it’s a touchy subject, but hear me out. Downtime is important and necessary, but let’s be honest: If you’re super busy (and we all are) but need to make your health more of a priority (and we all do), you will need to get creative with your time.

If you only have weekends available, start using some of that time getting physical. Or get up 20 minutes earlier on weekdays (sorry, I went there) or stop at the gym before you get home from work. If you are home with babies and toddlers all day, try a home workout or a Mom’n Me stroller workout.

These are just ideas to help kick-start change; only you know your schedule, and only you can make yourself take action for a better lifestyle.

Don’t make change complicated. Just begin.

Julie Meyers Miller is a Certified Nutritionist for Fitness and Wellness and founder of balanceisbest. She is a wife, mom, and blogger on a mission to inspire holistically healthier lives at any stage of the game.

Getting Motivated After a Fitness Slump

Getting Motivated After a Fitness Slump

Earlier this year I had invasive surgery. Like most surgeries, it was a significant setback for me physically. I couldn't workout for many weeks and my muscles had been severed during the procedure. When I coached a fitness and nutrition challenge three months later,...

read more

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