How to Safely Get Back on Track After Falling Off the Rails
“Check your ego at the door. Forget about what you used to be able to do and focus on what you can do right now.”
~ Sal Crispo
Sometimes, I will get a client who comes back to me after a long lay off and they want to pick up right where we left off. When this happens, I say something like the quote above. Again, Health is Not a Sprint. If you are making a health and fitness comeback, you should not focus on how much you can accomplish in a short period of time. Your focus should always be a long-term one. If you used to be quite fit (V7) and now you’re not (V3) then you should not start training and trying to do what you used to. Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon if you want to stay injury-free and gain some lasting traction.
Be honest with yourself. How long have you been away? How much older are you now since you stopped? How much extra weight are you carrying? Was there an injury that derailed you and did you heal from it properly? Do you have the same amount of time, energy or stress than you used to before? As you can see, there are many things to consider.
The longer you have been away from eating right, strength training or practicing stress management, the longer it’s going to take to get back to where you left off. If you have been away for a few short weeks then you should get back on track in a few short weeks. But if you have been away for over a year then don’t expect to get back on track for a while. It takes an average of about 66 days to form a new habit. However, I would say it takes at least 90 days before the new habit really becomes a part of your regular lifestyle.
It’s okay to start back at a much lower level. I understand that you felt very accomplished at one time because you could bench press two plates or squat your body weight, but that was then and this is now. You have to let go of what you were able to do and focus on what you can do today. I know this may be a tough pill to swallow. You may feel weak, incompetent and like doing less is pointless, but it’s not. Remember, it took you a long time to build up to your former glory days.
If you were injured then you have even more reason to take things slowly. Your body has an added element to adapt to. You should look to find any weaknesses in the area (and supporting areas) and focus on strengthening them to ensure a better level of symmetry and balance. I had a young man, who used to be fit (but was now significantly overweight), come to me with diastasis (separation of the rectus abdominis) and I had to rebuild his core before starting him on any weight training. Just because he used to be fit and athletic, I treated him like a complete novice. If I didn’t, I could have made his diastasis worse. Today, after a year of proper, gradual progression, he is fit and athletic again (his diastasis healed too).
Sometimes I get clients who say they want me to build them a program where they workout 5-7 days a week because that’s what they used to do when they were younger and fitter. What happened since then? They got married, started a business had children and the list goes on. Part of the reason they keep putting off training is because they think that if they don’t train as much as they used to then there is no point. But this is not true. When I create a program, I ensure it is practical and suits the individual’s lifestyle. If not, then compliance eventually fades and results diminish.
When getting back to a regular program, make sure you honestly assess where you’re at and make the necessary adjustments. Regardless of how low your current level may seem, begin there today and before you know it, you will be back on track.
Your V10 Health Coach,
Sal Crispo P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixePATvetSs