Dear Tara Marie,
I really need some inspiration. I’m having a tough time getting to the gym regularly and eating well. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I am feeling really unmotivated, and I just hate what’s happening to my body after all of the hard work that I put in to get where I am now. I really need some inspiration. Can you help me?
Thanks, Carolyn, New York City
I have gone through what you are describing many times, especially after a knee surgery, serious injury or an illness that takes me out of my usual routine for an extended period.
Two things are happening: 1) you are physically out of shape and not where you want to be, and 2) you are mentally out of shape and not where you need to be to make a shift in your life.
There is a mind-set that you had when you were at your physical peak, and you need to get this back, as well as get your training on track.
We want to slowly get your body moving toward your goal and, at the same time, get you mentally in the game of consistent training and conscious eating.
Try my 3-week jump start plan to course-correct fast!
Your goal this week is to get to the gym 3 times. If you go more, great; if you don’t, that’s alright, too. We are starting slowly to guarantee your success.
I don’t care what you do once you arrive; I care that you are at the gym and moving. We need to get your body in the habit of exercising again.
You could do 20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of abs, and 30 minutes of upper-body strength training. You could do 45 minutes of strength training and 15 minutes of stretching. You could do 10 minutes of yoga poses. It doesn’t so much matter what you do. This first week is more about training your brain to get in the habit of committing to exercise and have your body tag along for the ride.
You again will have a 3-session minimum at the gym, but by now you may want to squeeze in a 4th session.
Decide before you go how long you will exercise, and fulfill your commitment. You may only feel like being there 30 minutes one day. This is fine, but fill those 30 minutes with concentrated work.
The difference between the second week and the first is that your body will be ready for harder work—slightly harder. We want to guarantee your success.
By now you are mentally in the groove of going regularly to the gym and your body has had a chance to adjust to sustained exercise. This week you will add structure to your plan.
Aim for a 4-session minimum, and before each workout decide exactly what you are going to accomplish. Create a plan, and stick to it.
I always recommend that my clients record (on a dedicated calendar) what they did at the gym on any given day. Keep it simple. I note which body parts I worked so I can structure and balance my other workouts of the week.
Your goal is to train your whole body over the course of your 4 (or more) workouts.
By this point, you will have accomplished two things:
1. You will be back in the habit of building time for exercise into your weekly schedule.
2. You will start to feel conditioned again. To the outside world you may look no different, but you will feel better, and feeling great and loving that feeling is what will motivate you to continue.
Re: diet, let’s make this really simple.
During this 3 week period, eat a clean diet. This means no soda, artificial sweeteners, sugar, alcohol, potato chips and dip, other processed trash, etc. Stick to a healthy, whole-foods diet consisting of lots of green and non-starchy veggies, protein, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of whole grains. Drink a minimum of one gallon (128 oz) of water per day. Use olive oil or coconut oil on your veggies and salads to keep you satiated.
After 3 weeks of clean eating, you will likely lose the desire for sweets and other junk “food.” By this point, you also will have had some success at the gym and won’t want to detract from your progress with dietary indulgences.
Try this 3-week jump start plan and let me know how you do!