Bouncing back – how to pick yourself up
When you’ve had a knock to your health or wellbeing, it can feel that you’ve gone back to square one on fitness. One moment you’re regularly going to the gym (well, semi-regularly…ish), watching what you eat, and keeping stress under control. Then, a serious illness comes along and knocks us for six. Or some bad news. Or a particularly busy time at work. Then, too often, we can find ourselves running out of time for exercise, grabbing bad food at the end of a long day, or simply lacking the motivation we once had to look after our health.
It’s perfectly natural to slow down following injury or illness. In fact, it’s often a vital part of getting better. If you’ve had to give exercise a rest as a result of injury or illness, you’re more likely to hurt yourself if you immediately try to perform at the same level you did prior to being laid up. That’s not least because your body will be less supple from doing less exercise over that time. However, depending on your situation, before long it’s time to get going again. Otherwise you may slow your recovery or lose the health benefits you gained from regular exercise and healthy eating.
So what are some of the best ways to get back on the horse (figuratively, maybe even literally!) after your health or self-confidence has taken a knock?
1. Take it slow
As above, don’t rush in! Your body will need time to recover, for more or less time depending on what laid you low in the first place. When you feel ready, try something you know but take it easy – do a slower run, a shorter cycle, an easier walk, etc. to check your strength and endurance levels.
2. Make a plan
It’s vital to have a clear plan that helps you slowly ramp back up to what you were doing previously. If you can set yourself appropriate goals for each week which take you a little further each time, you’ll be much more likely to stick at it, and feel a real sense of accomplishment.
3. Avoid doing everything at once
It can be frustrating feeling like you have to start again on your healthy habits. But it’s best to focus on one or two changes at a time, rather than trying to do everything at once. In keeping with your plan, if you’re trying to improve your diet, exercise, drinking habits, stop smoking and even more, it’s really hard to make progress on all those goals at once. Even at the best of times, it’s better to focus on building a better habit with one or two issues. You can then move onto other goals when you’ve become more comfortable with the initial changes.
4. Get a buddy
Talk to a friend or partner about how you feel, and think about how you could both motivate each other to stick with a healthier lifestyle. Whether or not the other person has gone through what you have, we usually all have things we want to improve about ourselves or our health. So chances are, they’ll be up for a healthy pact aimed at motivating both of you.
Alternatively, if you are more flush with cash, a qualified personal trainer can help set goals and motivate you to build your strength up again, at an appropriate pace. Of course, if you have suffered a serious injury, you may already be working with a physiotherapist, so you may have that angle covered.