The Ultimate Guide for Restarting Your Fitness Journey (5 Steps to Respawn Today!)

LEGO Star Wars characters, with one on the floor.

Today we’re going to tell you exactly how to restart your fitness journey.

Whether this is the first time you’ve had to “respawn” or the 50th, you’re in the right place.

We help folks restart their exercise or nutrition routines as part of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program…and we’re really freaking good at it! Today, we’ll share with you the same strategies we deploy with them.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Let’s do this.

Why It’s Okay to Start Again

The Iron Giant with a flower

So you fell off the wagon already.

Welcome to the club.

It’s called “being human!”

There are like 7 billion of us.

A gif saying "Welcome to the Club"

So how did I know you probably fell off the fitness wagon already?

Because statistically speaking, MOST people have already abandoned or missed out on a lot of the resolutions they’ve set for 2021.[1] Seriously.

However, have no fear. Since we treat life as a videogame around these parts, we’re all very comfortable with restarting or “respawning.”

First, we must…

STEP 1: FORGIVE YOURSELF

A LEGO and her dog

I heard a podcast interview recently about a man who had made a huge realization through seeing a therapist.

Specifically, their therapist asked them “Would you talk to somebody the way you talk to yourself?”

I bet the answer is a RESOUNDING “No.”

Nobody deserves that kind of abuse.

We’re often our own worst critic and our own worst enemy:

"I'm kicking my ass" from Liar Liar

Do you know that voice in your head, that one calling you a loser or a failure?

Treat the voice in your head like a roommate. You don’t HAVE to listen to their advice!

“Oh you think I’m a piece of s** and that’s why I can’t stick with a workout routine? I disagree strongly. I might have some faults, but I’m here, and I’m still trying! So, thanks but I’m good. I’m just gonna get back to work.”

You’re reading this, which means you’re trying. Forgive yourself. Then move on.

STEP 2: ASK WHAT WENT WRONG?

A LEGO scientist

Your goal of working out 2 hours a day and only eating Keto failed after three weeks.

Congratulations!

You conducted an experiment that did not have the results you expected.

That’s neither a good nor a bad thing. Like any other experiment, it just… IS.

So write down specifically what your experiment entailed. 

What did you try to do?

  • I was going to exercise every day.
  • I was going to run a mile each morning.
  • I was going to eat strictly Paleo every day.

Look at your list: this is a combination of variables that don’t work for your lifestyle.

SIDENOTE: Learning from the millions of people that have come through Nerd Fitness over the past decade, my guess is that your experiment didn’t work out for one of two reasons:

  1. Your goals were too vague: “I should exercise more this year” – For how long? How often? What kind of exercise?
  2. You tried to change ALL the things: eat 1,800 calories a day (instead of your normal 3,000), go running 5 days a week (when you don’t exercise at all now), and get 8 hours of sleep a night (normally you get 5).

STEP 3: CHANGE A VARIABLE IN YOUR EXPERIMENT

You’re reading this guide, which would lead me to believe you’re interested in trying again to lose weight and get in shape.

To avoid getting the same results, we need to change the variables in the experiment to try and get different results.

You know…

For your next attempt consider adjusting one of the following variables.

Remember, any good experiment has accurate measurements for their changing factors! You don’t just put “some uranium” in a nuclear reactor. You know the exact amount.

We need to be exact with your variables.

Let me give you some suggestions:

  1. Change the exercise variable: Did you actually enjoy the exercise you attempted? If you discovered that you hate running, great! Never do that again. “Exercise sucks,” so I would pick something you actually enjoy.
  2. Try a substitution rather than additionADDING a brand new exercise routine into a busy schedule can be really challenging. Fortunately, you can focus on substituting or adding in a way that doesn’t take up more time: nutrition! How you eat is 80-90% of the weight-loss equation, and you’re already eating every day. So focus on substituting a vegetable for fries once a week, or swapping sparkling water for soda. You can also keep a food journal and change up your breakfast twice a week.
  3. Adjust your “win scenario”: I get it. You were able to train in your home gym for the first few weeks of this year, going for at least an hour. But THEN…work got busy. And you only had 30 minutes, which wasn’t enough time to get through your workout. So why not set the win scenario at “30 minutes,” or “15 minutes,” or just “1 exercise”? Lower the bar!

This is a 10-year journey we’re on here, so the exercise itself is not nearly as important as building a routine of working out that fits into your life. Lower the bar for what a “win” scenario is.

Example: if you roll out your yoga mat for 1 set of 1 exercise, it counts as a win. Doesn’t matter if did a full hour workout or just a 5 minute set of push-ups. It all counts.

STEP 4: RESPAWN, GET BACK IN THE FIGHT

A LEGO at Blacksmith

When you play a challenging video game, you’re going to die. A lot. (I died literally thousands when playing Hollow Knight, one of my favorite games in recent memory).

What happens after you die in a game?

You respawn, and try again!

You’ve learned a new tactic or pattern. You have a new technique. You’ve uncovered a secret. Or you’ve just gotten better. So you try, again.

And again.

And again.

And when you finally succeed?

Nirvana. Adulation. Pure joy.

A gif of fireworks from Mario

There’s no shame in failing when it comes to weight loss. We have hundreds of stories of people who kept failing, but kept reading and trying, and then finally – something clicked.

And that next attempt is the one that changed their life’s path. Like Joe, who made like a dozen weight-loss attempt until he changed the right variable and got results:

Joe's before and after

So try again today.

Keep these things in mind when restarting your fitness journey:

  1. Change your nutrition variable – try calorie counting instead of Paleo or vice versa.
  2. Change your workout variable – try strength training instead of running.
  3. Focus on building the routine by making the ‘win scenario’ super small.

Write down your plan, and start executing.

STEP 5: SUPERCHARGE YOUR RESULTS

A LEGO Blacksmith

I know hacking your experiments to get better data isn’t exactly “scientifically smart” or “morally responsible,” but I’m the one writing this guide and I have more important stuff to say. So you’re just gonna have to deal with it.

Once you start your new experiment, here’s how you can stack the deck in your favor:

#1) Write everything down. Write down your workouts. Write down what you eat. Treat it like a science experiment, and you’re collecting data! Plan ahead. Be PRO-active (“I will do Strength Training Workout A at 4pm and tonight I’ll have roasted chicken and bacon-wrapped asparagus) instead of RE-active (“What should I do for exercise right now?” and “Ah, what’s for dinner? Oooh, Burger King!”)

#2) Recruit allies to your team. Don’t go this alone, as you’re more likely to succeed based on the people you spend time with and hang around. So recruit allies. Start spending more time with healthy people that empower you (even virtually), rather than unhealthy people that enable you and drag you down. Join a running group online. Find a lifting “accountabilibuddy,” or someone you can check in with.

#3) Hire a professional. There are two types of coaches worth the investment:

  • An in-person trainer if you are looking to supercharge your form on specific exercises like Olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, etc. An in-person trainer can be good for people that need the accountability of somebody they’ve paid to meet them in the gym. Although to be honest, with the ongoing pandemic, gym availability and safety can be hit or miss.
  • An online coach that represents mobile, worldwide accountability. I’ve had a coach for 6 years and it’s changed my life. Knowing that I have a workout and nutrition strategy to follow each day is game-changing.

GET BACK IN THE FIGHT

An old mandrill named Rafiki once taught me: “Yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

Okay maybe he taught that to Simba in The Lion King, but I too learned the same lesson:

"The Past Hurts" from Lion King

TO RECAP:

#1) Forgive yourself. You wouldn’t talk to somebody else the way you talk to yourself, so have some freaking compassion. You’re trying.

#2) Identify what experiment you JUST tried. Write down what you believe went wrong over the past few weeks. Congrats – you found a strategy that doesn’t work.

#3) Pick a new path, try a different variable. A good scientist meticulously tracks their data and writes down their hypothesis. I would change one of the following:

  • Exercise: do less – focus on building the routine and doing it consistently. Here’s how to exercise in a way that doesn’t feel like exercise.
  • Nutrition: change less. If you couldn’t stick with a diet for 3 weeks, it was too restrictive. Try a different path. For help, check out our Guide to Healthy Eating. It’s designed to build on one small tiny improvement over time.
  • Win scenario: don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.”

#4) And then try again.

You and this sheep both now know how to follow a plant-based diet. But you'll have to eat more than grass.

Oh, and for #5 (“Supercharge your results”), I have two perfect ways to help you respawn today:

A) If you want step-by-step guidance on how to lose weight, eat better, and get stronger, check out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program.

Many of our clients kept respawning for years, and it was only when working with a trained professional that they finally learned how to maintain progress.

B) If you want an exact blueprint for getting in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Plus, there’s a nice shiny button you can press so you can respawn in our app whenever you want! No judgement, restart whenever.

Try your free trial right here:

Alright, that does it for me today.

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: If you want more tips and tricks on how to stick to your goals this year, check out 5 Hacks to Effortlessly Build Healthy Habits in 2021.

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Photo Citation: Oh My Goodness! Shut Me Down, The Iron Giant, “Hello, old friend. Is he ready for me?”, Happy Halloween!!, At the blacksmith’s (Part 2), Medieval Blacksmith

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75 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide for Restarting Your Fitness Journey (5 Steps to Respawn Today!)

  1. This is what I needed right this moment. You have no idea how hard I have been struggling going and coming back. Thanks so much.

  2. Is there a button to respawn…like: hey I need to start over, please start sending emails from the beginning or at least “please stop sending me week # ___ emails” so I can stop feeling awful about having to respawn? Thanks!

  3. I realize this is an old column… but Rafiki is a mandrill, not a baboon.

    And you call yourself a nerd…

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