“I Don’t Want to Lose What I’ve Gained”

A lot of people start to freak out when they get injured, when their schedule suddenly becomes busier and it’s hard to fit fitness in, when they get sick, or any number of reasons that may cause their schedule and consistency to change from where it was. I can understand the frustration. Perhaps you’ve had 6-12 months where you’ve been ridiculously consistent with workouts and then “bam!” you get injured and can’t workout like you were. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok, and to remain calm.
Let’s be honest, the ability to stay 100% consistent with workouts for the rest of your life is just a pipe dream. Life ebbs and flows. We get new jobs, we start new families, we travel, we get sick, we get injured, we take scheduled time off, etc. It’s part of life. If you take too much time off will it result in decreased performance and a loss of muscle mass? The answer is “yes.”
“But I thought you told me not to freak out!”
That is true, I did. The thing is, we shouldn’t freak out if we go through life periods where endurance goes down, muscle mass gets lost, and/or our weight changes in either direction. Why? That’s simply just the ups and downs of life. It’s also only a passing moment in the entirety of our lives, just like the illness or injury are. The one thing we can always count on is change.
The reason I say not to freak out is because when people DO have time to get back into fitness, they seem to think that they need to make up for lost time. They’ll push themselves harder than they need to at first (doubling or tripling up on their exercise regime), and they risk injuring themselves or getting sick – again! What’s even worse is when people sacrifice their sleep or start eating too few calories because they assume that they are in a race with their bodies. I’ve also seen people “suck it up” and “push through” their injuries and illness, and that doesn’t really do anyone any good either.
Exercise is stress on the body. If you are injured or sick then your body is already stressed from that, don’t add onto that stress. Let the body focus on healing the injury or illness at hand, and then ease back in. Trust me, if you just let your body focus on the injury or illness then you’ll heal quicker than if you try to keep pushing the body when it’s already inflamed.
In general, you won’t start to see loss in muscle mass for 3+ weeks. Cardiorespiratory fitness may seem like it goes quicker, but it’ll also come back fairy quick. So, relax. Take it easy. Heal… and then hop back in (ease back in, please) to rebuild. It’ll be ok.

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