The good news: you can get back to your old, fit self in just a few months. And these five tips can help keep you in the gym.
1. Find Your Reason For Change
Becoming untameable in the gym starts before you even set foot in one. No matter how long it's been, and how insurmountable your own personal mountain looks, no one but YOU can truly get you to change your sedentary ways. You can find inspiration from various outlets (significant others, kids, even a death in the family, a big life event you want to look your personal best for, WHATEVER), but until you resolve to get your ass in the gym (and stop eating like crap), your ass will probably remain oversized.
2. Know Your Limits Before You Try to Destroy Them
I've seen countless people get past step one only to have step two rob them of their will and desire.
I have a close friend who has wanted to get in shape for a while. He's started and stopped working out again at least twice every year for the past six years. His problem is this:
Every time he begins to workout again, he dives in head first. He'll go over-the-top, working out like a madman for a week; he'll run seven miles a day, lose 5 – 10 lb and feel great about himself. By the time week two rolls around he's sore and burnt out, because he put a unfit body through the ringer after it sat around for six months. So he takes a few days off, which eventually becomes seven months.
Leave something in the tank when you're just starting out. Work your way up to bigger gains through smaller, weekly gains. It'll keep you interested; it'll keep your body from crumbling out if the gates; it'll keep you coming back, which is really the main goal.
3. To Succeed At This You Need Self-Determination, Accountability or Both
Once you get there mentally and have a few consistent weeks under your belt, nothing gets any easier. You will be challenged with the desire to drift back into your old ways. Everyone has “those days” when working out is the absolute last thing they want to do. Every day might feel that way for you. So on those mornings or afternoons you don't feel like going to the gym you've got to ask yourself, “If I don't do this, if I quit at something this simple, what else will I give up on?” Put yourself at that crossroads every single time you think about skipping a scheduled work out. Hopefully you won't want to live with knowing you're a quitter.
But that isn't always enough. A lot of people might always choose to watch themselves quit. When it's do or don't they choose lay down and eat a can of Pringles. That's fine. But if you're not the world's greatest self-starter or a raging narcissist, employ a way of making yourself accountable. That could be anything from having a workout buddy who relies on you to show up, hiring a personal trainer, or keeping a strict calendar with a reward (could be anything, although a rub-n-tug is always nice) for reaching monthly gym attendance goals.
Which brings us to the next point…
4. Set Achievable Goals
Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect your atrophied body to suddenly morph either. (Side note: Why must we always use Rome as that example? Why not the dresser I bought from Ikea in college? I'm certain that took much longer to build.)
Start by not setting all your goals too far in advance. Of course you want to have an overarching goal — let's say yours is sub 10% body fat — that's great, but make sure you have milestones along the way to keep you on track. Setting one grandiose goal that lives six months in the future is how slacking-off starts.
So set aggressive but attainable goals along the way, all which will get you to your overall goal, which, of course, is looking sexy as fuck for grandma's 90th birthday.
5. Embrace Variety
Boredom is probably responsible for just as many people ditching the gym as laziness. I know I struggle with it all the time, because the gym in my apartment building (while free) is on par with a fitness center you'd find at a Holiday Inn Express.
It sucks, but it's not the end of the world because THE INTERNET has thousands of videos to help you not only find new exercises but learn how to execute them without looking like a demon is trying to escape your body.
Keep a routine for a month and then switch it up. No matter what mode of working out you choose — running, biking, crossfit, weightlifting, etc. — things eventually get stale. Not to mention your body will become accustomed to a routine and gains will be harder to come by. So keep your interest and your gains by shocking your system with something new.