In January, the Holiday Hoard goes storming to the gyms, works out too hard, too fast and goes home sore and defeated. Most never come back because fitness was a terrible experience – pain, humiliation, confusion.  Their high motivation and great intentions rarely make it to February because they all make the same mistakes. Getting back into shape is not easy. It is intimidating and even humiliating but if you avoid these common mistakes you can make fitness a good part of your life.

1. “Jump right back in. You’ve done this before.”

It’s a new day and some time has passed. Age isn’t a limit. It’s just a factor. The last time you exercised may have been 20 (or more) years ago. Back then you moved faster, healed faster and had more energy to do dumb things. “Youth is wasted on the young.” Now you are smarter, wiser and have more at risk but also more to be healthy for.  Ease back a notch (speed, weight, duration) until your body is ready again. Maybe you could run 15 miles and bench press 500 pounds back in the day. But today is Day 1.  Start at the beginning and do it right.

2. “Hit it hard. No days off!”

You can’t rush healthy. You have plenty of time. Find a pace and a schedule that you can sustain for the long-term. Steady progress will lead to a higher level of fitness for a longer period of time than crash-diets and sprint-workouts. Find your groove and stick with it.

3. “OK Guys. Let’s get going and work-off those cheat meals!”

You can’t change the past. You can’t “work off” a bad meal or make-up for a missed workout.  Set yourself on a good course and stay the course.  Learn from your past and let the process change your future.  Remember how you felt when you stopped exercising? Remember how you felt when you over-ate? Now use those lessons to improve your future. Your past was not a waste. It was a lesson you had to learn to get where you are going now.

4. “No Pain. No Gain.”

MOST IMPORTANT:  Take it easy on yourself.  “No Pain… No Arthroscopic Surgery.”  You are doing the right thing so do it right.  It doesn’t need to suck.  Work hard but don’t punish yourself.  Fitness makes your future better.  Give yourself some leeway to enjoy your workouts.· Back the weight off a few pounds and improve your form. · Stop sooner so that you look forward to your next workout. · Slow it down a few beeps so it doesn’t suck.
You are doing a great thing for yourself and your family by getting back in shape. Use these four ideas to enjoy the process of getting healthy and be proud of what you accomplish.

You can do this.