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I have a confession to make. I haven’t really worked out in about two weeks.  Now, for the record, I haven’t just been a totally lazy bum. I’ve been sick as a dog — a phlegm monster if you will.  A little cold normally doesn’t sideline me for this long (or at all for that matter), but in this case I can’t so much as tie my shoes without sounding like I’m hacking up a lung. I firmly believe in listening to my body, and my body is saying “take a rest girl”. I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without working out. It’s been a truly miserable couple weeks.

When you can’t exercise for whatever reason it is easy to spiral. For one thing, Elle Woods explained to all of us that exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. For a lot of people (myself included) it’s easier to fall off the wagon when you can’t exercise, whether you’re sick or injured or absolutely don’t have time. In my head I know that by taking exercise out of the equation I need to keep my diet even tighter, but in reality I tend to think, “Well since I can’t exercise, go ahead and pass the chips”.  And can I mention that a week or two out of the gym makes it way too easy to break the fitness habit?  You spend months getting in the habit of working out almost every day and then one rogue virus and you feel like you’re starting from scratch. No fair.

But I have an idea. Instead of looking at an exercise timeout as all doom and gloom, lets try to put a positive spin on it.  Let’s not wallow, but see it as an opportunity to examine where we are on our fitness journey and where we want to go.

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1. Take stock.  Be honest with yourself: where are you right now?  Is your fitness level what you want it to be?  Do you like the way your body looks in clothes?  In a bathing suit?  In your birthday suit? Is your head in it?  You may like your answers, you may not. Either way, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

2. What’s your ‘Why?’  Why do you workout?  To improve your health?  To look good for a reunion?  To feel like yourself again? To fit into a pair of jeans? Hey, I’m not judging. I don’t think any answer is any better than another, but pinpointing your reason can renew your focus and vigor.

3. Set goals.  Try making a short term goal, a long term goal, and one that scares the crap out of you. Your short-term goals should set you up for your long-term goals. Is losing weight a long-term goal? Then short term goals could be eliminating sugar or getting to the gym 4 days a week. As for your intimidating goal, it may be walking up and down the beach in a bikini and feeling awesome, becoming a yoga instructor even though you can’t even do a handstand, or it may not have anything to do with fitness. Just pick something that will make you face a fear head on.

4. Read, write, and plan. Psych yourself up for getting back in the game. Grab a copy of Oxygen or Muscle and Fitness Hers (two of my favorite magazines) and pick out a couple workouts to do your first week back (or check out SM’s amazing fitness index on Pinterest). Search online for healthy recipes. Make a vision board.  Create a new workout playlist. Do whatever you need to get yourself excited. You’re making a plan to change your life, this is good stuff!

Ok, now make me a promise. If for any reason fitness takes a big backseat, now or in the future, you’re going to view it as an opportunity to get your head (and whatever else might need fixing) right. The break is a chance to reflect on the progress you’ve made, and map out where you’re headed. I know sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to share your goals (especially the big one) with friends or family, so feel free to share them with me!

How are you going to get back on track? Would love to hear from you!