• Carol Lee

Get back on track with a fitness plan that's realistic, enjoyable

Consistent effort and having fun are keys to success

Personal trainer Carol Lee offers some tips for getting back into shape after months of inactivity during the pandemic.

One of the first messages I received when our region was approved to move on to Stage 3 and open its doors was: “Carol, I’ve gained 10 pounds and I feel terrible. I don’t think I’m ready to work out with you yet.” Here are my thoughts on this: If the worst thing that happened to you during that past six months was that you’ve gained a little weight and lost some stamina, count yourself lucky and let’s get to work.

Some things to consider before diving right back into your previous fitness program (or starting a new one):

Set realistic expectations

Have you experienced any injuries or serious illness during your time off? Exercise modifications may sometimes be necessary depending on the individual issue and not following protocols outlined by your physician or caregiver could result in delayed recovery or further injury. Working with a certified personal trainer will ensure that your specific needs are taken into account to prevent further issues.

Start with something familiar

Take a look at your last exercise session and repeat that program but with about 30 per cent less intensity. The movements will be recognizable to your brain and you’ll be able to make a pretty quick assessment as to how much deconditioning has occurred. Deconditioning is what happens when we stop being active and our physical activity declines. The process itself can be fairly rapid and building back up to our previous abilities can feel slow. Which brings us to our next point:

Document your progress

Consistency is key when it comes to improving your fitness and that change will come over time with consistent effort. And this works both ways — the odds are pretty good that you were consistently inactive or making less-than-optimal nutrition choices. Now is a great time to record your effort and be honest with your steady progress. When we’re instituting new changes, I like to have my clients keep a monthly calendar and simply mark the days that they follow their plan. The days will add up and so will your successes.

Have FUN

Find an activity and nutrition plan you fully enjoy. Consistency in your actions will be monumentally easier if the steps involved come naturally. Getting back on track with an extremely rigid plan filled with things you don’t exactly love to do is a sure-fire way to get discouraged. Numerous studies have shown that when we have an activity that we look forward to doing, the likelihood of continuing and progressing in that activity increases dramatically.

The most important thing to remember is to be patient with your progress. You didn’t lose your fitness level overnight and you won’t gain it overnight, either. Take your time, hire a professional to help you set and reach goals and enjoy the process.


Carol Lee is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition coach with 25 years’ experience in the fitness industry. She instructs at the Movati Athletic gym in Kingsville.

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