Reader’s request: getting started or back in the game

Morning, friends! Hope you had a wonderful weekend <3

Here’s what went down over here if you’re catching up on blogs this morning:

Dia de los Muertos parade

Baby shower (so beautiful!)

Shopping + Blanco

It’s dark, cloudy, cold and rainy today…..


Perfect hot cocoa and moccasin weather.

hot cocoa

[Still obsessed with the dark chocolate almond milk]

I woke up early to take Hayley to the airport- we had so much fun this weekend, and I was sad to see her go- and munched 1/2 a MacroBar on the way:


Waiting to finish my hot cocoa to decide what’s for b-fast 🙂

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a reader’s request post on what to do if you’re getting back into a workout routine after hiatus or injury, or getting started for the first time. Many of the workouts I’ve posted on the blog are for the average gym-going Jane –used to working out, but not a serious bodybuilder or anything like that- so they’re intermediate/advanced. I’ve posted some beginner workouts before, but didn’t get as much feedback on those and stuck for the most part with level 2-3 workouts. That’s not to say that they can’t be modified to suit your workout needs with a little bit of creativity- and if you ever need help, please let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with.

If you’re just getting back into the game, or just starting up, here are my top 3 tips to help you along the way:

[of course, make sure you’re good to go with your doc before starting or resuming a fitness routine]

1. Take it slow and remind yourself that it’s about quality, not quantity. Even if you’re just able to get in a little bit of activity each day as you build up your strength, that’s fantastic. Be patient with yourself and remember that it will become easier over time, especially if you’re doing it correctly (not too fast too soon) and maintain proper form with your exercises. If you’re coming back from an injury, take special consideration to avoid exercises or movements that will irritate your injury. Usually swimming, walking and MAYBE biking/spinning, yoga or Pilates are good ways to go, along with muscle-specific exercises. If you’re testing the weight-lifting waters with your recovered injury, start supersuper light and see how it feels. If it hurts, stop. You can always go up in weights, and you can always come back to the exercise later if you need to.


If you’re just getting started with cardio, aim to walk as often as you can. Take a dance class, or find something else you love and look forward to. As far as weights go, definitely start out super light if you’re a weight training newbie. You’ll get stronger and will be able to increase the weight as time goes on. For help with a basic beginner weights training plan, check out Intro to Iron Pumping and Weights Training 101.

2. Modify the heck out of things. There are so many modifications out there to make things easier as you train your body to go into the full exercise. For example, for push-ups or planks, you can do these on your knees (just make sure to keep your booty down so it’s in alignment with the rest of your body- straight line from head to knees), bench tricep dips can be done with knees bent to take some of the weight off of your arms, and cardio classes can always be altered to suit your needs. Don’t be afraid to modify or take a break during class- instructors are usually very helpful and understanding and will be happy to give you alternatives. I’m always excited to help someone in class that may need another option or modification- it forces me to think outside the box.

modified-plank2 Source

3. Keep and sense of humor and be patient with yourself. When I had my knee injury after the last half marathon, I couldn’t go into pigeon pose for a loooonnnnngggg time. It made me so mad because every yoga DVD I had included pigeon pose. After a while, I just had to accept the fact that I’d have to get off my mat, fast forward that part, and give the knee a rest. After a few times, I kind of made a joke out of it (like by thinking the man in the DVD was probably hurting his man parts in pigeon pose anyway) and it wasn’t a big deal.

Darren-Rhodes1 Source

[One of my yoga teachers here in Tucson]

The same goes if you’re just getting started: have fun. Working out isn’t supposed to be serious business all the time- you need to enjoy yourself or you’ll be less likely to stick with it for the long term. Even if you feel like a goofball in Zumba or in any new class, laugh and have fun- moving is burning calories, don’t worry about being “perfect.” And like I said before, everything gets easier over time—be patient and forgiving with yourself. You are your most important cheerleader.

Do you have any tips for getting back into things after an injury or just getting started?

My biggest help was taking things one day at a time, which kept me from feeling overwhelmed.

Hope everyone enjoys their Monday and I’ll see ya later with a Family post!



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  1. Olivia @ PeanutButterNerd on November 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I think the most important thing is to do your best, and not worry about how you compare to others, because the more you do it for yourself, the more you will love it and seek to challenge yourself if that’s what you want to do!

  2. Cat @Breakfast to Bed on November 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I don’t think that man has any bones.

    • Fitnessista on November 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

      he’s ridiculously amazing

  3. Lauren on November 7, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Exercise with a friend. It helps keep you motivated. A friend of mine and I each got a living social deal for a local gym offering boot camp. We try to go together, but still try to keep each other accountable and at least talk about the class. 🙂

  4. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on November 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I totally agree that patience is so important. As an instructor, I used to get so frustrated when I walked into a step class and kept screwing up the choreography (as you may have guessed, I don’t teach that class!) For some reason I had this expectation that I’d be able to do it the first time, which was a little disheartening. But…. after a few classes, I was totally fine, and now it’s one of my favourites!

  5. Jackie on November 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thank you! I am starting at ground zero after a long break. I would love to see a beginner weight routine that uses dumb bells/stuff at home. Could you recommend a good starting program? Thank you so much for al the great info you post!!

  6. Elena on November 7, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Thank you so much for this reader’s request! It came at a time where I have really been looking for a beginners workout. I did not grow up with exercise and it’s really hard to find a place to start when most workouts I find online are targeted more towards the intermediate/advanced exercisers. Thanks again!

  7. Blake @ Blake Bakes on November 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I can’t wait to get back in the game.

  8. Christine on November 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Mindset is so important. Make up your mind you will and can do it, stay motivated and think positive. I put pictures up everywhere of women with fit bodies from Oxygen magazine. On the fridge, in my workout room. And finding websites on fitness and new routines to try, and finding friends with similar goals on Facebook to keep you in the game and focused on what you want. If your head isn’t in it, the rest wont happen.

  9. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie on November 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    This is such a great post, I just covered a similar topic and I can’t wait to share your tips!

  10. Danika F on November 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I think the biggest thing that helps me to get back in the swing of things is to set realistic goals. I find that if I don’t have something to work towards, I have no motivation to get my booty to the gym. For example, if I want to lose five pounds, I know I need to get to the gym to workout, whereas if I just say “I want to lose weight,” I can give myself excuses as to why I can just lose weight tomorrow 🙂

  11. Britt @ TheBusyBeeWrites on November 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    This post came at the best time! I just started getting back into the habit of running after 6 weeks off due to an injury. I appreciate your perspective! My best tip goes along well with your post, and it is “start small”. I set a new goal for each week. Last week, it was “30 minutes of gym time a day.” I didn’t make that goal (the rest of my life got in the way a few times). It would have been easy to get frustrated about it, and in the past I would have! Instead, I’m just adding “30 minutes a day” to this week’s goal of “find fun workouts.” Any advice for free or cheap zumba videos?

  12. Jamie on November 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you so much! I’m somewhat of a gym newbie, and tend to be really inconsistent with working out. It’s so easy for me to want to put everything out there every time from the very beginning, but then I get burned out so quickly. Thanks for the tips!

  13. Alycia on November 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you soooo much for this post! I’ve had a rough year, and am ready to get back to taking care of myself. I really didn’t know how to start back though, so this was super helpful for me. Thank you for the great tips!

  14. Clare on November 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve been needing to get back into working out after an injury for a long time, and this might be the push I need!

  15. Hillary on November 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I think the advice of taking things a day at a time is key. When I first started running, I couldn’t run a quarter of a mile without getting winded. Now I’m training for my second half marathon. It takes time, effort, patience, and consistency, but if I can be successful, anyone can!

  16. Manasi on November 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm (You have to see this)

  17. Laura on November 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    This post helped me a lot this morning. I am starting BACK into my workout routine (my gym bag is in the car to go straight there after work!) I have a question, do you think starting back into classes is better than going back into your routine? I used to take a weights class, and I’m wondering if i should start taking it again or maybe ease back into weights on my own?

  18. Alicia @ AliGirl Cooks on November 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I’m just getting back into working out after a hip/knee injury. Yoga has been my best friend through it all! Now it’s on to walking and the bike. It’s definitely hard to scale back after running so much but I have to remember it is in my best interest. Thanks for the reminders!

  19. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on November 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Love your tips…I also think consistency is one. You don’t have to run 10 miles every day or do a two hour yoga class every day…but do something. Walk for 20 mins, do 20 mins of at-home yoga, just do…anything. Being consistent and using the something is better than nothing approach tends to work for me.

    I love that yoga pic…stunning!

  20. Rachel on November 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Long time reader, first time commenting. I have been trying to get into working out (since I have never really been one to work out) but I’m having a hard time. Thanks for the tips. I have a 6 month old so I have little pieced of spare time, no a long period. I get bored with workouts pretty easily and I don’t know what to switch them up. I’ve been doing your yoga video, I really love that one. I would love more things like that. Easy to do!

  21. Hilda on November 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Great post! Something I have found useful after a hiatus is building momentum – so I try to workout every day (changing it up of course) and at roughly the same time every day. Exercise becomes part of my routine so that I feel that I can’t cut it out (unless absolutely necessary) and reminds me why I’m working so hard.

  22. Candice @ Sailing on Paper on November 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    These are really good tips. I think number 2 is especially helpful for a new exerciser…sometimes it seems like I should be able to go longer or do more. But I have to keep reminding myself to be patient with myself and that my body is new to this, too! Thanks for these.

  23. Allison on November 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    great post! its all about taking baby steps one day at a time, its all we can really do! Be in the present moment, and take it as it comes

  24. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on November 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Macrobars make me SWOON. But yowza. Yeah girl that pose DEFINITELY needs to be modified. 😉

  25. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on November 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Great tips! When I first started working out, I found that going to the gym with my friend for the first few times really helped make the whole thing seem a lot less intimidating. Plus she gave me a tour and showed me how to use some machines so that I would feel comfortable using them. It was a big help!

  26. Sara on November 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I have rehabbed myself back from major injury twice (once was surgery, once was a disc herniation). The trick is to REALLY listen to your body and remind yourself that ‘if you do it right, you will only have to do it once’.

    The most frustrating thing for me after surgery (and you might have a bit of this after you have your baby) is that when I headed back in to the gym, it was tempting to constantly compare my performance to what I used to be able to do (and I know a lot of post-preg women can get concerned with ‘what my body used to look like’). You have to take yourself where you are with complete acceptance and not compare yourself unfavourably to anyone, even a previous self!

    • Mari on November 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Wow I totally relate to this. I worked myself back into awesome shape from a 50 pound weight gain during pregnancy complete with c-section, then had a rough few years of extreme stress and have gained 30 pounds and my fitness level is zero again! So hard to not compare what I used to be able to do to now. And I keep pushing myself to that level and either injuring myself or getting sick. So frustrating. Also getting older has made it so much harder to lose the weight it seems. Not sure how to start over. A beginner workout post would be so helpful!

  27. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on November 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I want cocoa now!

    Are those Macrobars tasty? I always see them in the store and they look good, but I wasn’t sure if they actually would taste any good?

  28. Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT on November 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Great post! I can’t agree more with just taking it one day at a time! 🙂 Today is all we have, why fret about tomorrow?

  29. Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups on November 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I like giving myself a plan and seeing the progress. Even if at the beginning, I’m using really light weights and doing fewer reps, it’s so encouraging to see those things build over time!

  30. Laura@mypurposefullife on November 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for such a great post, Gina! I love all of your tips. I know for me another really big thing to keep in mind is to stop comparing myself to “how I was” pre-injury or illness. This is not only frustrating physically, but also mentally very discouraging. If I keep in mind that my body has been through a lot and I need to take it slowly, and that it will bounce back (our bodies are so much more amazing than we give them credit for), then it is easier for me to ease back into workouts/training. 🙂 P.S. Happy almost birthday. It’s the day before mine, so I remember it from last year! What a creeper, haha.

  31. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on November 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    That yoga pic is so inspiring! I would love to be that flexible someday!

  32. Joy on November 8, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Thanks for this post I am just coming back from a broken foot and am really discouraged what 2 months off did to my fitness level.
    Have you ever done any of the gaming systems workouts? I was at game stop yesterday and I saw that wii had come out with an nfl workout program and was debating it

  33. G.G.R on November 8, 2011 at 8:07 am

    When I was 19 I was in ridiculously good shape. I had been a swimmer years before but I quit because they kept making me compete and I hated it (I would “forget” my bathing suit for competition and they would just buy me a new one wherever we were ugh), but after that I hadn’t really done anything for a long time. Then suddenly I got a friend to join me at the gym where I would go do 30 min of cardio every day then go home. She wanted to try out all the machines that I had been too scared to try and it turned out I could actually do it! Then we started going to classes – yoga, bodypump, dance classes, boxing – and suddenly we were working out hardcore 5-6 times a week together. I would go for runs on my ‘days off’. I found myself bending in positions I never thought I could in yoga, piling on weights in bodypump class and having the instructor chant my name to push me through it, suddenly I could pick up coreography in dance classes no problen….. And then I got really sick and almost died. I lost everything. I was so sick that I was bedridden for three months, then it took me a year to be able to walk for more than 20 minutes without either a, falling asleep on a bench somewhere or b, getting heartburn so bad I thought my skin was literally going to melt away and uncover my innards. It took another year for the gym to be a possibility. I had been going for a couple months when my dad died. I spent the next three months cleaning out his home and bawling my eyes out. I comfort ate like nobody’s business for a year and gained 20 pounds. No gym, because what was the point? I had no dad anymore. Then I snapped out of it and started running at the gym. A few months into it a car reversed in a parking lot without looking and ran over my foot. Permanent nerve injury. Crutches for 5 months. Became depressed because, COME ON! Gained another 20 pounds.

    But now I’ve been going to the gym for a year. I’ve lost 20 pounds and working on the rest. I’m nowhere near as fit as I used to be and it really makes me sad sometimes to think how awesome my body used to be. But then it spurs me on because I know I can get there.

    Going to afro power dance class in a few hours. It will kick my ass. I am looking forward to it.

  34. Ali on November 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Holy! That is one sick posture that guy has going on there! I think your tips are wonderful. It is all about pacing yourself, just be gentle and all the rest will come with time!

  35. Heather on November 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Right now I’m rehabbing a fractured ankle and torn hamstring (no surgery on either, thankfully) and started doing yoga a few weeks ago to get my flexibility back,. These tips are soooo helpful and true. Part of rehabbing is just taking it slow and understanding that you won’t be able to do everything (or anything) you were able to pre-injury for a few weeks to a few months.

    Great post!

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