The first step to getting back in shape is deciding what you want to achieve. “Take a personal inventory,” says Victor Castro, president and chief instructor at Liberty HaganaH Center in West Chester. When you’re ready to begin, write a contract with yourself. “Put it someplace permanently, so you can look at it,” Castro says.
Getting too ambitious when drafting a plan can set you up for failure. Instead, ease into the changes. “A lot of people get discouraged because they try to change their whole routine immediately,” says Jenni Noll, a coach at Kika Stretch Studios in Wayne. If you haven’t eaten any vegetables for a week, add one to dinner one night. Even small steps make a difference.
“Mini daily victories” create a sense of accomplishment, says Mark Lewis, owner and founder of RTP Athletics in Ridley Park. Notch a few successes, and there’s a “snowball effect.” Add more challenges, then a few more. “That’s going to keep you rolling,” Lewis says.
What’s the best way to stick with an exercise routine? Enjoy it. That way, you’re more likely to stay on schedule and exercise more often. Dance, yoga, boxing and swimming are great options—and create atmosphere that’s inviting. “Make it a space you want to go to,” says Christine DeFilippis, owner of Pop Fit Studio in Havertown.
Short workouts can be an effective way to jumpstart an exercise routine. “It’s hard to commit to an hour,” says Lisa Werny, a Malvern-based yoga instructor, who recommends starting with 20 or 30 minutes. “Anything you commit to is going to work.”
It preps your muscles for exercise and cools them down after, guarding against injury. Stretching also improves your posture. “Think of everyone who’s sitting on the couch doing work from home,” says Kika Stretch Studios’ Noll.
Even minimal equipment allows for more intense and effective workouts. It also prevents “physical issues and injuries” that can happen without it, says Liberty HaganaH’s Castro. You don’t need to spend a lot of money—a few weights are enough to deliver better results.
Exercise should be part of your daily routine—as normal as “showering or brushing your teeth,” RTP Athletics’ Lewis says.
If you can’t recruit a family member or friend, join a Zoom class or an outdoor club.
It’s about “being good for four or five days a week and sticking to your fruits and vegetables,” says Werny. On off days, don’t be too concerned about eating that “500-calorie dessert because you’re not doing it every day.”
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