It’s hard, but not as much as you think it’d be!
“I’m so weak,” I told myself the morning I decided to get back to the gym after a 32-day break. My body wanted me to stay in bed for longer, to keep scrolling through Instagram reels, and to rest, because I was *tired.*
But my mind was stronger, so I got up.
“I need a few more days’ break before I can resume,” the voice in my head said. But I knew the longer I waited, the harder it’d get, and the more demotivated I’d feel.
“We don’t need to work out,” I convinced myself. “We’ll just get dressed, head over to the gym, and see how things have changed.”
And that’s what I did. But the moment I stepped inside and saw so many people pushing themselves and giving their best, something inside of me clicked.
It wouldn’t be that difficult. I just needed to warm up, and then things will flow.
I started with head and shoulder rolls, and by the time I was on the Yoga mat stretching out my hamstrings, I knew my body deserved this stretch, and that I’d feel immensely good after a hard-earned sweat session.
The first day in the gym after 32 days, I didn’t lift weights. I warmed up my whole body, did a few push ups, and conditioned for my side splits. By the time I walked out, I had a huge smile on my face. I felt proud of treating my body to a much-needed workout, and knew that things would only get easier from here.
All I had to do was keep showing up.
Why is working out after a break so difficult?
A study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reports that staying away from exercise for longer than a few weeks may deactivate Piezo1, a vital protein in our bodies. This restricts the blood flow to the muscles, making physical activity more difficult.
No wonder my body was screaming for me to take more rest and finding multiple excuses to stay away from the gym.
The first day after the break is always the hardest. I motivate myself by indulging in simple pleasures like:
- wearing sexy workout clothes,
- playing my favorite music (almost always Eminem rap songs), and
- treating myself to a chicken salad right after.
Small rewards go a long way in reinforcing the motivation to show up.
“Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself.” - Dwayne Johnson, Hollywood actor.
And once I enter the gym, seeing other people around me working out always makes me want to give my best too.
The Köhler Effect is an oft-repeated idea in psychology that in group settings, no person wants to be the weakest link. I could relate to this in the gym, as I wanted to push myself harder when working out with people who were fitter than me.
But it doesn’t remain hard for long
It’s hard to get back to working out after a break, but the good news? It won’t stay hard forever. The reasons are multiple:
- Exercise makes you happier: When you exercise, your body releases endorphins the “happy hormones.” These helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and boost your overall sense of well-being.
- Exercise helps you sleep better: A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research suggests that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity spread over a week helps even people with insomnia sleep better.
- Exercise helps you crush your other goals: A study in Perceptual and Motor Skills found that in a group of 22 healthy middle-aged individuals, high-intensity training sessions improve cognitive function with respect to attention and short-term memory tasks.
And these aren’t merely reported facts. Within just 4 days of back-to-back workout sessions, my body was already feeling the benefits. My productivity skyrocketed. I was making more money, feeling more energetic throughout the day, and no longer had to resort to Melatonin strips to fall asleep on time.
If only four days of consistent exercise can make me feel so good, imagine what a lifetime of working out would do to a person’s body.
Tiny mindset shifts that help me stay consistent
In the first few days after resuming my fitness journey, all I told myself was, “Keep showing up. Things will get easier.”
After a week, I felt more stable. The two hours spent in the gym had become a non-negotiable part of my daily routine. Now, going to the gym wasn’t a question I pondered every morning. It was a task I had to do, and there’d be no excuses around it.
The next challenge was to stay consistent, and not let breaks affect this. Some tiny self-reminders (call them affirmations, if you will) that helped me stick to regular exercise are:
- Breaks mean nothing. I’ve built a habit of daily exercise once. I can build it again.
- I’m stronger than my excuses.
- I’ve never once in my life regretted working out. I have, however, regretted not working out.
- A year later, I’ll be shocked and surprised to see how far I’ve come.
- The younger me would be proud to see herself so healthy and fit.
- Challenging myself at the gym will give me the confidence I need to crush my goals throughout the day.
Final words: Breaks are normal, but they don’t define you
My friend and I joined the gym together. Due to family emergencies, she had to take a two-month break. After that, she spent four more months in denial, telling herself that she’d resume once the time is right. The year’s almost come to an end now, but she still hasn’t restarted her gym journey.
I’d have fallen into the same abyss, had I let my long break define me. Instead, I took it in my stride and convinced myself to show up for just one week. Things got easier after that.
“You’re lucky you have so much motivation to work out,” my friend told me more than once. If only she knew luck has nothing to do with it.
Even now, I have days when I wake up and think how easy life would be if I skipped the gym for just a day. But I’ve worked through enough setbacks to know what’s a sign from my body and what’s just an excuse to be lazy.
I’m not lucky. I just don’t let my excuses make my decisions.
I’m not always motivated. I just know when to push myself and when to listen to my body.
Being consistent is my superpower. And if you want to, you can make it yours too.
What’s stopping you?
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