Here is how to get back into fitness after summer

So you’ve enjoyed your summer and gave up counting calories, but now you’re struggling to get back on track. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.

They say calories don’t count on weekends or when you’re on holiday, and for the most part that’s a nice way to live. Forget the side salad and have some fries, have an ice cream on a sunny day and can you really say no to a big slice of cake?

But if you let healthy eating fall by the wayside, even if you think it’s only for a short period of time, there’s a good chance these decisions will start to show up on

your waistline.

If you’re looking to get in shape, or even just get back on track with your fitness routine, now is the time to refocus, make a plan and stick to it.

Get back on track

Shifting your mindset is the first step: Summer is over, the holidays have been and gone and it’s time to get the gym gear out of the closet – even if it’s a little more snug than usual.

It’s hard to get back into the swing of things at first but once you get over the initial shock to the system, you’ll forget that you ever stopped in the first place.

“The biggest thing is people getting back into a routine,” explains Phil Smith, senior personal trainer at Haddins Fitness. “The first few days can be a bit up in the air but when you settle back into your routine, that’s the time to turn your attention to fitness again.

“It takes about a week or so to get back into a routine. It comes down to a person’s mentality in terms of forcing themselves to start being more active.”

Showing up to a class or going to the gym is the first step. But before you dive in headfirst and start trying to set a personal best straight out of the traps, it’s important to be realistic with what you can do, even if you’re used to a high intensity workout.

“You can’t just go right into the deep end; you need to be realistic,” adds Phil.

“You put yourself at risk of injury and setting yourself back by going too hard from the off, doing exactly what you were doing before you took time away from it.

“Even if you’ve still been quite active in the summer, I would advise that you go at 60 or 70 percent of your max, and go about three to four times a week to ease yourself back into it.

“After that, you can build up but initially it’s imperative not to overdo it.”

Holding back a little doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout. It’s all about self care and making sure that you can continue to build your fitness levels gradually instead of enduring a spell on the side lines.

Stay motivated

Making plans to exercise is easy, but breaking those plans is even easier.

We’ve all been in the position where we’ve set the alarm for an early morning workout but decided that the warmth of our bed was too good to cut short and decided to hit the snooze button instead.

Not sure how to break the cycle and stay motivated to reach those fitness goals? The solution could be easier than you think.

“Having a fitness buddy helps; you’ll be inspired and motivated to be more active and get into a routine,” Phil says. “Find someone who is going to get you back into a routine and take the journey with you.

Phil Smith

“A lot of people out here have social groups and they motivate each other to go to classes – they create a community and support and encourage each other to be more active.

“It’s much harder if you’re doing it as an individual. When you’re part of a group, there’s a shared responsibility and a collective goal; you don’t want to let anyone down so you’re more likely to make the early classes or late classes, instead of not doing any exercise

at all.”

Fitness buddy or not, remember that it’s all about mind over matter and that, in the end, it’s down to you to stick to plans and achieve the goals you’ve set.

“In Abu Dhabi, the post-summer period is a bit like New Year elsewhere in the world, where people make resolutions to get in better shape,” jokes Phil.

“At the end of summer when everyone comes back or moves here for the first time that’s when fitness classes and gyms are the busiest.

“People all want to get on it and be active so we see a swell of interest at this time of year, but as with New Year’s resolution, the enthusiasm usually tails off – the challenge is for you to keep going even when the crowds die down.”

Find a balance

Working out four to five times a week is a great start to losing weight, being healthier and achieving your fitness goals, but this isn’t the whole picture.

Burning off a few hundred calories a few times a week doesn’t mean you can eat takeaway every night and expect to see the number on the scales drop.

As with all things in fitness and wellness, it’s important to be realistic with yourself, set achievable goals and, more than anything, be patient and know that, for want of a better phrase, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

“Setting goals is great but you need to be realistic in what you’re doing,” stresses Phil.

“Most of the goals people set for themselves are achievable. But if you’ve been away and have been eating rubbish for two months, you’re not going to drop all that excess weight in two weeks – it’s just not going to happen.

“It’s much easier to gain weight than lose weight and you have to work it off, but if you’re realistic about what your goals are and the time frame, you can absolutely achieve it.”

If you can be disciplined and dedicated 100 percent of the time, that’s great, but nobody is perfect and you should still have fun, enjoy a few treats and live your life without the feeling of immense guilt over having a less-than-perfectly-healthy meal or a slice of cake.

“There are welcome back dinners and brunches to tempt you to prolong the

carefree way we often live at this time of year so don’t be too harsh on yourself in the first few weeks because it does take time to adjust,” says Phil.

“You can work off any unwanted weight in a safe way, without having to undertake a crazy diet, which themselves can actually set you back if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“Starving yourself will actually cause the body to hold onto fat and you’ll find you might not lose as much weight as you anticipate.

“Clean and healthy eating is the way to go, so it’s worth educating yourself about the right foods to eat and eat plenty of them to fuel your body for the exercise you’re doing.

“Good quality food and regular exercise will yield results, it’s as simple as that. It’s all about committing to it and being smart about what you’re doing.”

WORDS Colin Armstrong