Blame it on one of those no-good-very-bad weeks at work where deadlines were missed, projects were delayed, and passive-aggressive emails were sent; or, maybe the emotional aftermath of a messy breakup. Whatever the reason, everyone falls off the healthy eating and exercising bandwagon at some point. It’s inevitable—but getting back on track doesn’t have to feel impossible.
There’s no perfect, cure-all solution to fueling your fire again, but when you make a commitment to one full week of sticking to a schedule, many experts say that you’re more likely to keep up the hard work. “Drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, and getting to the gym in that first week can help increase your energy, improve your mood, and help push the negative cloud surrounding your vision of fitness,” explains Brian Bott, BS, CFSC, owner and director of training and program design at Aspire Fitness. So, here’s a 7-day get-back-on-track guide to inspire you.
Also, Aaptiv can help. We’ve got features that make it easy to schedule your next workout, as well as classes that are as short as 10 minutes in length, so you can start off small.
Sunday: Strategize Ahead
Before you start scrolling to find the workout you’re in the mood for or set your alarm clock for the a.m., Bott says that Sunday should be used as your strategy day, since being prepared sets you up for success. You’re getting back into the swing of fitness, so start with a manageable goal of working out three times a week. This means that you’ll have to examine your schedule and position these future sweat seshes around happy hours, meetings, and social events. And then actually add them to your calendar. According to Bott, if you don’t make it a priority, it’s less likely to happen. So, plan your week of workouts, put it in writing, create buffers around it for last-minute mishaps, and stick to it.
Monday: Get Going
Both Bott and Andrew Girvan, a personal trainer and cryotherapy expert, recommend that you “never miss a Monday.” Much like tackling your emails or building up a savings account, if you never get going, you simply can’t succeed. As Girvan explains, working out on a Monday will ensure that “you set the tone for the week, get the feel-good endorphins flowing, boost memory and focus, sleep deeper, and give yourself a natural energy boost.”
Since this will be the first time that you’ve moved certain muscles in a while, choose a workout that you know you’ll enjoy. If you need a serious kick into gear, go full-throttle with a challenging, HIIT workout (like the ones on Aaptiv). If you really just want to get moving again, try something more steady-state set to motivating music. You’ll walk away feeling proud and accomplished. What a way to start the week.
Tuesday: Prioritize Self-Care
Consider yourself warned: You might wake up super-sore the day after you start exercising again. But, before you get discouraged, remember that this is a normal reaction that every beginner goes through. Instead of letting the aches and pains keep you from moving, try yoga. Yoga and trapeze expert Laura Wooster suggests using the flow of yoga to stretch your limbs and prepare you for more exercise. Beyond the obvious benefits of this ancient practice, paying attention to your breath carries through any type of physical exertion, regardless if you ‘Om’ or grunt your way through the workout. “Fitness is more than just the physical. The mind and body connection is critical for any kind of fitness endeavor,” she says. “On day three, take time to understand your breath and how to clear the mind, while focusing on the movement to advance your routine.”
A day for yoga, stretching, and relaxation will also serve as an active rest day. You’re more likely to avoid workout fatigue or burn out when you actively employ days of rest.
Wednesday: Push Through
Humpday isn’t always the easiest. Energy levels can fall short at work and at the gym. But don’t give into the mid-week slump—you’ve got a planned week of workouts after all. According to fitness professional Kenny Pena, it’s more important than ever to press your nose to the grindstone and keep going. “Today, you might be feeling a little sore, tired, or hungry. Consider watching a motivational video to give you that extra push,” he suggests. “It’s all in our mind if we want to complete our goals for that week. Goals mean nothing without the drive. If you tell your brain ‘I want this’ your body will do whatever you tell it to do.”
Thursday: Get Social
Almost there! Bott predicts that you may feel an extra surge of confidence after three days of back-to-back physical activity. As a way to celebrate and maintain momentum, he suggests getting others involved. Depending on how comfortable you are with baring your soul (and ahem, schedule) on social media, consider using a social platform as a way to hold yourself accountable. “You can post on [social media] about what your goals are and ‘check-in’ when you actually complete a session,” he says. “More likely than not, if you are sharing your truth, which is that you are struggling to make fitness a routine work, you will receive a ton of support from friends.”
The Aaptiv app has a built in Team tab to connect you with a community and help keep you accountable.
Or, if you’d rather keep your sweaty business offline, Bott says that enlisting a workout buddy is an effective method, too. “Pairing up with a friend is a great way to keep yourself accountable and keep it fun,” he says. “If you know your friend is going to be waiting for you, you’re less likely to ditch out.”
Friday: Give yourself a break (and a cheat!)
Even the healthiest and happiest of fitness enthusiasts have a little secret: treating yourself is important. Girvan says that while noshing on healthy food 80 percent of the time will help you maintain your weight, indulging in the foods and drinks you love will ensure that you don’t feel deprived to the point of exhaustion. If you go for too long without anything sugary or salty, you run the risk of binging. It’s okay—and even necessary—to have a cheat day.
“Celebrate the weekend and your week of hard work. That doesn’t mean eating anything and everything you want. But, pizza or candy, cake or ice cream, go for it!” he says.” Stay disciplined throughout the week, knowing [that] on Fridays you can have that brownie sundae you’ve been craving,” he shares.
The only caveat? He says that you have to work out before you indulge, to keep up the pace, Fit in even a quick 30-minute sweat session. And, of course, the entire point is to avoid overdoing it so remember moderation is still key.
Saturday: Reflect and Make Changes
You’ve successfully made it through your first week back in the action. Bott says that now it’s time to take note of what worked and what didn’t. Though it might seem like an old-school ritual, journaling can be impactful for creating long-lasting habits. “Look back at the week and write down what went well, what failed, what you enjoyed, and what you hated,” he says. Use this as a guide to tailor your coming weeks to make them more enjoyable. Feel free to switch up workouts you didn’t like and try something new. “At the end of the day fitness has to be something you enjoy, so if you find yourself dreading every workout, odds are [that] you will never stick to it.”
Another great way to reflect is with an Aaptiv meditation. Click here to take one.