I have a regular virtual personal training client who contacted me last year for help after she was diagnosed with osteoporosis.
We work together, virtually, twice per month and she completes homework assignments in between our meetings which are progressive in nature and are increasingly challenging over time.
Last week, she sent me a message by text to request that we delay our next scheduled training session. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to use her question in Fitness Solutions as I am sure many other readers have found themselves in a similar situation. Her question and my answer are presented below;
Q. Hey Ernie, I hope your holiday was wonderful! A quick note to see if I can postpone Monday’s training session. I have a new puppy (…new to me; he’s actually 11 months old) and my schedule is so messed up that I haven’t worked out since last Thursday. I feel like I need to figure out how to get back into a routine and get my workouts going again before we meet. I am so tired and disoriented. Do you have any tips to help me get back in the groove? — Jen
A. To begin with, I am thrilled that you’ve got a new addition to your family. It’s an exciting time for sure. It’s important to recognize, however, that while it’s fun and exhausting it is definitely not a “normal” time.
If you expect to keep your exact same training schedule while managing the demands of a new puppy, you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed.
Having said that, the good news is that you have been so consistent over the past year that you’ve accumulated a nice little “cushion of fitness” for times like this; kind of like a rainy day savings account. This means that, until things settle down, your focus should be on maintenance and not on progression. In other words, do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. You might not love it, but that’s life.
To help with the process, here are 7 Tips to see you through this transitional phase in your fitness career;
1- The most obvious way to get or stay fit with a new dog is to treat his walks as a part of your training. You might keep track of steps or the time you spend walking or might find routes that are challenging with hills etc.
2- In an effort to “get back into” your routine, start small and make 5 minute commitments throughout the week where you focus on one or two moves from your full routine. I know musicians in similar circumstances who will practice scales or dexterity exercises for a few minutes several times per day when they can’t do a “full” practice session. It actually works. And research has shown that it can also work when it comes to fitness training.
3- When your life feels like it is turned upside down, try to schedule one thing for yourself. This could be a twice per week strength workout while your puppy is out in the backyard or someone else is caring for him. Don’t be too ambitious, but, try for a couple of 20 minute sessions that are non-negotiable times for you to care for yourself.
4- If the “schedule” idea just doesn’t work for you, then dump the schedule and accept the idea of engaging in fitness “snacks” throughout the day. A “snack” might be doing a few squats while brushing your teeth or doing some pushups while waiting for a kettle to boil. You could leave a set of resistance bands on the banister in your hallway and do some rows every time that you pass them.
5- One of my favourite ways to get myself to do something that I don’t particularly love doing is to link the activity with something that I do love. Many people exercise in front of the TV and watch a favourite show while training. If I am working out at home, I love listening to my vinyl record collection while lifting weights.
6- In an effort to be super-efficient, do only the “big” exercises from your routine. A sequence that I teach people is called the “Big 4” which consists of the least amount of movements that work the most body parts in 4 simple movements; squats, pushups, rows and straight leg deadlifts.
7- To increase the likelihood that you’ll exercise, make a plan the night before. This can include laying out the clothes that you’ll be wearing, filling a water bottle and having a clear, written plan. Don’t leave anything to chance; simply wake up and go to “auto pilot” and move through the steps of completing an exercise session.
Good luck and remember, this too shall pass.