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Getting Back to Fitness After a Break

There are many reasons we may need to take a break from our regular fitness routines. Sometimes, the interval is very brief such as a weekend away at a spa.

Or, perhaps the gap is longer and due to a severe injury or surgery. I have taken numerous breaks from my own fitness routines over the years and for various reasons. 

My most recent hiatus has been by far the most physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging thus far. In early February, I fell ill with what I thought was my third sinus infection in the past eight months. 

Because of my symptoms, my family doctor prescribed antibiotics and strongly suggested that I get tested for Covid 19. This was on a Thursday afternoon. I went home and began my isolation.
By Friday night, I could not move for the racking cough, fatigue and body aches, although I was spared a fever. A sore throat limited my diet to liquids only. 

 

By Saturday, I received my positive Covid 19 test result. I was not prepared for the guilt, shame, and fear of having infected others that this news brought me.

For the next two weeks, I did little more than worry, sleep, watch Netflix, and worry, sleep and worry some more. I managed to eke out the bare minimum of freelance work required of me.  I think I showered twice.

 

By week three, I could make myself basic meals, and move about my home, just. I could also shower somewhat regularly. I have never been so ill.

 

By week four, I could now complete some activities of daily living. By week five, I returned to my primary responsibility of caring for my two preschool-aged grandchildren and my freelance writing work.
I was still as weak as a newborn kitten. Everything exhausted me physically, emotionally, and mentally. 6:00 PM was my new bedtime, and 7:30 AM was outrageously early to get out of bed to begin the day.

 

April wore on in a similarly exhausting fashion.

May dawned with new hope, and I began to envision a return to my fitness routine. I knew from my education, training, and past experience, that I would not be returning to my former practices. Not even close. Run 5KM in less than 30 minutes? Ha! 45 minutes of weight training? Forget it!!! A HIIT workout? Right!

So, I had to develop a routine that worked, given my new reality. There were several truths that I had to accept about myself, and until I accepted them, I could not move forward:

  • I had been very ill, and I could not change that.
  • Because I had been very ill, I had lost significant amounts of muscle mass, strength, and endurance.
  • I wasn’t sick anymore.
  • I had done the work before; I could do it again.
  • I needed to start the work right now, so I will.

If you have found yourself returning to fitness after a break, remember to begin your return with kindness. It won’t be easy. Being too hard on yourself will only set up roadblocks. I know where I need to push myself and where I need to be gentle, and that’s ok for now. 

If your break has you stumbling in the dark, join a fitness club, gym, or walking group. Be sure to find the right level and like-minded folk who will be walking your walk, so to speak. Get as much information as you can about the group in terms of exercise type, duration, and intensity so that you know it’s suitable for you right now.

Coming back to fitness after a break is the perfect time to try that new sport or activity you have been dreaming of! Why not now? You have nothing else going on, right? With nothing else on your activity plate, it’s the perfect time to take up paddle boarding,yoga, or a learn-to-run club!


This is one of my favorite inspirational quotes


“She believed she could, so she did.”
                               - S. Grey



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