Yes, I fell off the treadmill. It was during college at the peak of the gym invasion- post Christmas break. Thankfully I didn’t get hurt, although my ego didn’t quite recover from the bruising it took that day… and of course I wasn’t wearing the stop belt, because as a sophomore in college, I was way too cool to be cautious.
This post isn’t about my injured self, but rather about how I fell off the workout wagon/treadmill after being absolutely obsessed with my workout routine and nutrition. I went from the best shape of my life (hello 6 pack!), to feeling completely uncomfortable in my body, to snail pace getting back into a fitness routine. How did it happen? Well you know, life.
My previous motivated self was in the gym 5-6x/week lifting. Running 4-6 miles in the mornings. Eating the same combination of protein, carbs, and fats. A little much? Maybe. Take me out of this routine and my anxiety would be thru the roof.
During this time, someone very dear to me introduced me to my city’s culinary diversity – Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican and more. At the beginning I would feel extremely guilty and would ruminate on the number of calories. How many calories are in a sushi roll? These were my google searches. As time progressed, I realized that my strict diet was not sustainable, or really that much fun. The introduction to other types of cuisines and the camaraderie that comes with sharing a meal became more attractive. Maybe a little too attractive. As a result, I started gaining weight and losing muscle. The gym could wait. The tacos could not.
I wish I could say that one day I just snapped out of it and went back to my routine, but it didn’t happen this way. I felt so uncomfortable. I felt heavy and lethargic. I decided to start with small changes, such as cooking at home, and reducing the sugar intake. As long as I was making good choices, I felt good. I realized that balance works best for me, rather than one extreme or the other.
As to returning to my workout schedule, that took more effort and time than expected. I no longer had a routine so it didn’t feel natural to fit in a workout. It felt like work. Around this time, I read a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear who argues that in order to create a habit/routine, you need to consistently show up. So, that’s what I decided to do- just show up at the gym. I would start very small. I started with my goal to show up at the gym once a week. The next week I would increase the goal to twice a week. The next week would be three times. I would show up and stay as long as I wanted to even if it was just for 15 minutes; I just needed to show up.
Over time, showing up worked. Some days 45 minutes flew by, other times 15 minutes was all I could and wanted to do. Showing up was the key. The repetition eventually became a habit I looked forward to. Right now, I’m not at the gym 5-6x/week, and I’m definitely not running 5-6 miles, but it does feel more natural to workout and I’m happy about my progress.
In retrospect, I learned that for me, a more flexible nutrition plan makes me feel good. I still eat clean, but I don’t say no to cookies (unless it’s oatmeal raisin). Also, starting super small and showing up at the gym was key in eventually making this part of my routine.
Have you fallen off the treadmill? I advise to get back on it very slowly. Start with small goals and show up! Just show up! Stay as long as you want to, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. It’s all about showing up. Oh, and I highly recommend checking out Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a fantastic read!