For reasons that may differ from one person to another, there comes a time when our fitness routine dwindles. Perhaps you’re recovering from an injury, you lost a loved one, or you went through a bad breakup. Or perhaps, you moved to a new city or country, you just got back from a long vacation, or you got married (which is usually hectic pre and post). Whatever the case, the question still remains ‘How do I get back on the fitness horse?’

To say that, getting back to your workout routine is going to be tough, would be an understatement. Apart from being tough, it can be discouraging, because it literally feels like you’re starting afresh. So, what happened to all those months and years of hard work? The hard truth is – your muscles won’t wait for you to come back and pick up from where you left off. Although depending on how far you’ve fallen, you may not necessarily be starting from a zero point.

Here’s how to get back!

1. Evaluate and accept your current level.

How long ago was your last workout? How many pounds have you put on? What’s your current diet plan like? What fitness and nutrition rules have you neglected? Do you have a healthy food budget? Can you afford a gym membership or improvise at home? Can your current schedule accommodate your new journey? How many days can you devote per week? Do you need new workout clothes? Probe yourself with as many questions as you can, and answer them. Once you’ve evaluated your current level, accept it, then, immediately attend to the ones that apply. In some cases, you may need expert advice, or a doctor’s clearance, to determine your current level. In any such case, those should stand as an adequate guide for you on the next step.

2. Make a realistic plan.

By ‘realistic’, I mean ‘doable’. Even if you once had a plan, you can’t jump right back into it. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself because that’s the fastest way to be frustrated. 10 minutes a day is more doable than 30 minutes. 3 times a week is more doable than 5 times. If you’ve gotten addicted to white bread, cutting down from 6 slices to 1 or 2 slices is more doable than cutting down completely. Remember, you’re just getting back, so breaking the habits you’ve formed would take some time. Make a diet plan and workout routine that is realistic for your current level, so that you won’t find yourself swinging back and forth.

3. Start slow.

While executing your plan, don’t be in a hurry to ‘get there’. It’s understandable that once upon a time, you could lift 50 pounds without breaking a sweat. However, you’re muscles have gotten lazy, and so, you can’t start lifting right away. And if you must, start with 3 pounds, and don’t do excessive cardio. Frustrating? Not really. You want to be able to exercise tomorrow, so don’t tire out to the point where you can’t even stand properly for a week. Resist the temptation of ‘going hard’, because the hard truth is, you can’t be faster than your body. Therefore, you must follow due process.

4. Appreciate your progress and be patient

Just like you once knew, this fitness fiasco takes a lot of time, and so, you must exercise an exorbitant amount of patience. After all, when you first started, it took a process of time. However, whether you’re seeing it or not, you’re actually making progress. That you didn’t give up after the first day, is progress enough. Appreciate and love it!

5. You’re back!

Finally, your grip is firm once again. So, what’s next? Try not to dwindle as best as you can. If you need help staying accountable, joining a fit community, or a team of friends with the same goals as yours, should go a long way.

In life, we don’t pray for down moments, but sometimes we can’t avoid them. If you happen to lose your fitness stability again, or you know a friend who’s struggling, you can help them with these simple steps and advice.