How To Get Out Of Your Pandemic Exercise Slump
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — The pandemic threw off our routines and schedules, and for many of us, one of the first things to go was regular exercise. One South Jordan woman found a way to re-prioritize her health through goal setting and discipline.
Like many other working moms, when the pandemic hit last year, Rachel Love started homeschooling her kids. Everything else, she said, went out the window.
“I couldn’t go to the gym anymore and that was really hard because I was pretty extroverted,” said Love.
She was used to going to the gym at least four times a week in her pre-pandemic days.
“I would drop off my son, and then I’d either go to the high fitness class, or I would bike or I would run the track,” said Love.
With no gym or childcare options, her workout routine hit a wall.
She also started incorporating baking and cooking lessons into her son’s homeschool plan.
“Then we were cooking a lot and eating a lot, and that caught up to me really quick,” she said.
Both her physical and mental health suffered.
“It was pretty discouraging, and it was also confusing because we didn’t know when the end would be in sight,” said Love.
One of Love’s friends invited her to run their first half marathon in July.
“But the half marathon was really hard. We took lots of walking breaks. We didn’t have a very fast pace by the end,” she said laughing. “I had points where I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.'”
Then, another six months went by, and Love said she hit a plateau again.
“By the end of December, I weighed myself on a whim and was shocked at what I was on a scale. I had no idea that I had to let myself get to that point,” Love described.
In January, she decided to make a change.
“This is not how it needs to be. I have the choice right now to either continue to not exercise, or make this a priority,” she thought. “I didn’t expect myself to lose the weight super, super fast. I was gonna make gradual changes, do my best, and try to just be consistent and stick to it.”
Love set a new goal: “I want to run another half marathon, but I want to run it faster!”
She found a new gym, started training and improved her diet.
“I started running more, but taking fewer walking breaks while I was running, just to try and bring up my speed,” she said.
When race day came, Love shaved 15 minutes off her time.
“It felt really good. I like teared up at the end. I was like, ‘I did it!’ It was so exciting!” she said. “[I] was shocked at how much easier it was this time around.”
Brittany Irvin, exercise therapist with Intermountain Healthcare, said exercise goals should be both enjoyable and realistic.
“I would tell someone at first to start small and to find something that’s sustainable for them,” she said.
Find someone to hold you accountable, Irvin said, such as “a friend, or go into a gym and meet people there, or even hire a personal trainer.”
Most importantly, Irvin reminded people to maintain a healthy perspective.
“Just to be patient with themselves and just to be kind to yourself,” she said.
Irwin also reminded people they weren’t the only ones who lost sight of their goals during the pandemic.
She urged people to just start.
“There’s going to be failures, there’s going to be setbacks, but that’s part of life and just … keep moving,” she said.
She said people will see results, even from making small changes such as, “having more energy during the day, being able to get better sleep.”
For Love, the results paid off.
“I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since the beginning of the year,” she said.
She said she feels happier, more energetic and confident.
“I’m wearing clothes that I wore pre-pandemic, that during the pandemic, I was not comfortable wearing,” she said laughing.
Love told others it’s not too late to make a change.
“Try different things and fall in love with something and just run with it,” she said.
She encouraged others to not be afraid of trying something new and keep pushing through.
“I was really nervous to try to run a half marathon, but then I fell in love with it,” Love said. “Even though it’s hard — to not give up and not to be afraid of doing something that’s hard.”
Irvin encouraged people who are headed back to the office and worried they won’t have as much time to exercise to set a reminder on their phone to stand up, stretch, or go for a walk throughout the day.
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