Injury, illness, or a major life change has interrupted all of our lives at one time or another. Here are a few helpful hints for getting back into shape!

1. Start SLOW.

This applies to anything new! Don't overload yourself -- it'll only discourage you from continuing. If you're starting any kind of fitness routine, don't expect to pick up where you left off. Even if you can deadlift what you could before, don't! That just encourages new injury, adds stress to an old one, or will just leave you too exhausted the next day to try again. I would say start at less than half of your old ability. There should be a slight challenge to it, but if it starts to feel like too much, ease up.

My running regimen postpartum (after the "okay" from my doctor) looks like this: Week 1 has one mildly challenging day. For me, this is throwing in one 20-minute slow run that week. Week 2 has two 20-minute runs, while Week 3 will have three. Week 4 has three 20-minute days and one 25-minute day. I'll push up the increments slowly until I get back to where I was before.

2. Take breaks.

This may seem counterintuitive. If we're trying to get somewhere, we should keep moving forward, right? Nope! It's important to stop when things are getting too hard in the beginning. You're doing this for your health, so you don't want to compromise it. Walk when you need to, lift lighter weights sometimes, or do a shorter workout one day. You want to keep your brain healthy, too. If your workout is feeling overwhelming mentally, rethink it. There's no need to put pressure on yourself when the focus is self-care.

3. Try something new.

Here's where baby-wearing barre comes in. Having my daughter probably caused me the most injury I've ever experienced: second-degree muscle tear and a cracked tailbone on top of mind-numbing exhaustion. I needed something new to motivate me. Blue Lotus Yoga Studio in Annapolis recently started a class for new moms and their babies. I had never done a barre class before and was incredibly out of shape, but luckily the class is geared for that! Most new moms are struggling to get back into shape, and none of us had ever attempted a fitness class with a baby before. The workout focused on strengthening our major muscle groups and offered a place for us to socialize with people who were having similar experiences. No better way to motivate yourself than getting out there with a group of people and toughening up those muscles that work to protect your body.

Find a local fitness class that fits your needs. If you want to try something new or are still weak from a recovery period, look for a beginner level. If they don't have one, look for a class that's geared for seniors. A lot of times these classes move slowly which will give you time to learn, and your classmates will be more than happy to help you out. There are also classes like Yoga for Athletes, which designs a method of working out you may not be familiar with around an activity that you are. Very cool!

4. Don't give up.

It's a cheesy cliche, but don't. It may feel like you're the only one struggling, but you're not. It may seem like you won't ever get back to where you were, but you will. You may feel insecure trying something new, but more often than not people will recognize that you're putting in effort and applaud you for it. But that's if they're even paying attention! They're probably too busy struggling with their own goals. 

So go on, get out there, and check back next week for an account of my first race postpartum. If you have any tips for ramping it up, leave them in the comments below! Until next time!

Want to strengthen your mind, too? Check out OCN's brand new DMV BookClub!