Once you set a fitness goal and are working towards it, whether it be to lose weight or run a half marathon, you can get into the zone and make rapid progress. However, problems can arise during your fitness journey. Unfortunately, it’s never quite smooth sailing. In a previous blog post, I have covered the dreaded fitness plateau. I have also talked a bit about some of the injuries I have had which impaired my ability to train. In this post, I would like to cover how you can redeem yourself when you fall off the fitness wagon. This happened to me recently. By opening up about why I derailed and how I managed to get myself back on track I hope to reach out to others who have been in the same situation.
As you may recall from my earlier blog post, I was making excellent progress during my weight loss journey and managed to drop from 93 kg to 78 kg by running 10k three times a week. I even managed to do a couple of 10k runs in the YMCA’s summer series in the Auckland Domain. All was going well until I fell ill. As those of you that have been dipping into the “Mind” section of In the Circle may be aware, I suffer from schizophrenia. Medication didn’t work out for me because it caused excessive weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, so I control my condition naturally. But when relapses occur, I do go back on medication and that causes me to gain weight. While I’m unwell, I don’t exercise. In two months, I went from being able to handle running a flat 10k course in one hour and ten minutes to barely being able to walk the same distance. Every time I fall ill my eating also goes out the window and I start eating a lot of junk food. Thankfully, I wasn’t quite back to my starting weight but when I got weighed at the doctors, I discovered that I’m now 88kg. This is frustrating as it puts me forward 10kg.
For a long time, I felt so angry and depressed but I finally managed to get my act together thanks to the support of my cousin’s wife, who is a personal trainer. While she was a student at the fitness academy where she trained to become a personal trainer, she trained me and is familiar with my condition. Miriam’s advice was to start by walking the 10k course and alternate by doing weights at the gym every second day. She said to concentrate on how good it will feel to run again.
Try not to make the same mistake as me and fall into a downward spiral. It’s best to nip it in the bud and pick yourself back up as quickly as you can, otherwise it will mean even more work for you in the future!
For me, the key was not to ruminate on the past and how much progress I had previously made. Once I learnt to put the past behind me, I could concentrate on the journey back to a fitness level I was happy with. Indeed, I have learnt to actually embrace and enjoy my current journey back to health.
It helps if you can come up with an action plan going forwards. Even though the way forward to running again was very obvious (starting off by walking again), it took someone else (a personal trainer no less) to point out to me that that was what I should be doing. I’m a bit of a self-starter and enjoy exercising alone, but if you need extra support and motivation, it might be a good idea to see a personal trainer for awhile so you get back on track.
Focus on the end goal. If it’s weight loss, try not to become obsessed with a particular number but think of how good it will feel to be lighter and have more energy. In my case, the end result is being able to run which really is the best feeling in the world. As Miriam said, that should motivate me every time I am doing my 10k walks.
In summary, try not to feel too depressed or beat yourself up if you fell off the wagon. We’re all human and it happens even to the most dedicated athletes. Try to focus on getting back on track. Your body will thank you for it.