So You Haven’t Worked out in a Year.


I have not made exercise a part of my life in well over a year.  Every time I begin to think about which workout to pick, I do a mental down-spiral into a cesspool of despair about how far I have fallen.  You know, back when I was so good at working out.  

When I won THIRD PLACE at the Ft. Leavenworth Veteran’s Memorial WOD.  Boom!

I am at zero.  Maybe even below zero.  Never been lower than this. (Something something two babies in two years something something five kids is hard something something homeschooling something moving from Hawaii to England excuses excuses). 

I don’t have a workout plan to follow or to share with you.  (However, up in our Fitness menu you will find a nice long list of “PRIME workouts” to choose from.  They are all awesome, we did these in a large group class a few years ago in NY.)  I do want to share some highlights that have helped me feel excited to dust off my lifting gloves, get back out there, and even anticipate the sweet pain that is coming as I begin training again.

How did I get back on the horse?  One word.  Fundamentals. 

Step One.
Get a Box. 

Recognize that I want two things: physical fitness –AND– a hot body.  It’s imperative to see these 2 desires as 2 ends with 2 DIFFERENT means.

Go ahead and adopt the mindset that exercise and weight loss are not related.  It’s like I was born hardwired for thinking that exercise makes me lean.  

When you place the burden of weight-loss onto the shoulders of an exercise program, you are already falling behind.  Any earnest upfront motivation will drain away because it is too hard, it’s going to take too long.  A handful of workouts every week can’t make you instagrammably instalean.  

There was a time in my 20’s when training for a half marathon caused me to lose bunch of inches.  I attribute it to a few things, but those inches came back.  The body adapts.  All that intense exercise made me legit hungry and it took about 3.5 seconds to undo the calorie burn from a really good run.  

Running five miles is the exact same thing as eating a donut and a half.  Not eating 1.5 donuts is the same as running five miles.  That’s why I stopped running.  It’s dumb to do it for weightloss.

A clean, dialed-in diet will improve your physique in a matter of weeks.  I am hoping to teach my kiddos this lesson, (in an age appropriate manner) so that they don’t have to relearn this in their 20s or 30s after years of wrong thinking.

Don’t attribute exercise with weight loss.
Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson in Bright Line Eating goes into this concept with complete scientific research.  Read that book!

Now that we have drawn clear lines in the dirt, let’s go over step two.

Focus on what exercise will do for you. 

Memorize the following, or post it somewhere:

Cardio-Respiratory Endurance.
(NB: Again, weight loss is not one of these components)

We had to memorize these in the CF level-one course, and it was one of their koolaid shots I happily chugged.  I’ve listed the definitions of these terms for you at the bottom of this post.  But those 10 words stand alone.  Yes!!  I want those things!!  

Good news.  One four-minute tabata pushup session instantly hits the body with all ten of those components. 

The ship hasn’t sailed.  You might have been off for a while, but it’s parked right here.  Get back on it and get a dose of those ten for yourself.  Right now.  

Step Three. 

Think Positive.

Stop telling everyone who will listen that I am not currently where I used to be.  

Some time in the past, I had a larger, quantifiable measure of those ten components of fitness. It’s intimidating and disheartening.  I am stretching my arms way back into the past, crying out, “I used to be better!!  I am alone in a sea of despair about lost time and look at those chicks over there who are wodding at 39 weeks pregnant and I’m gonna order a “has-been” shirt for myself right this minute.”

Turn around, face forward.  Turn eyes and heart back toward that list of ten.  I want those!  I need all ten of those for multiple reasons!  –to take part in life as actively as possible.  –to enjoy sport and recreation.  –to be able to move heavy things around.  –to do everything in my personal power to maintain/improve my body’s capacity to operate at its peak.  (Its peak.  Not that instachick I keep seeing.  Unfollow.)


Take the has-been t-shirt out of the shopping cart.
Also go ahead peel off the “I used to be cool” bumper sticker off the back of the 07 Odyssey.



A 15-month hiatus forced me to rework my form from the ground up.  It has been refreshing in a lot of ways (after taking a couple hundred humble pills) to work out slow, study the movements again, and practice good form.  

This is one of the foundations of the CrossFit** method: form is paramount.  Once you have established consistent good form, build upon that foundation with speed and load.

Then consistency.
Then speed and load.

Rolling it all the way back to the beginning renewed my interest in this hobby.  I’ve been using the pipe or the naked bar to train.  I am actually stoked to re-hone my form…bring it back to what it should be.  After a couple of years of working out like crazy, my form absolutely backslid.  I was getting by with some pretty bad habits.  I don’t think I would have carved out time to fix it.  

The one good thing about losing overall fitness was that the bad habits got lost along with it.  Now, I because I am slower + using a lighter load, I can truly focus on consistent ideal form that I formerly overlooked.  I can’t wait to have amazing new push-ups, proper foot stance, a properly aligned core, fix my early arm pull, use the hook grip every time, reset my lazy running form.  All of it.

A break can be a good thing. 


A little actually does go a long way.  

This is something I can attest to because of my age.  I have seen that it does not take hours upon hours of training to make quick improvements in one skill or another.  It is surprising to see how much headway you can make in a short amount of time.

 The couch to 5k program is the perfect example of this… and it applies to every skill in the book.  Can’t knock out ten pushups in a row right now?  I bet you can do 4 sets of three.  Knock those 12 out, and go again tomorrow.  If you want to do pull-ups, you gotta do pull-ups.  😉

Do a little bit a couple of times, you will be able to do more the next time. 

Has this been true for you?  Comment below!


Know YOUR why. 

I talked about this in the recent clean eating post, and it applies here. 

Part of getting over the mental mountain of a major restart is to clarify your why.  In this endless onslaught of fitspiration (ahem, marketers trying to make money off of you) it’s harder than ever to keep your head down.  The products, the before and afters, the programs, the plans, the PR’s, the results, the finishing times.  It all throws me off my own course. 

I have to be calculated and deliberate about keeping my goals in my direct line of sight.
You can’t have all the goals, and that doesn’t make you a weak person.

I’ll be vulnerable and let you in on the goals for this mom of five living in a relatively isolated situation.

1.  Look good in my clothes–the clothes I already own.  That is completely raw and honest of me.  If I am not entering into any lifting competitions, then do I need or want to work on a double-body-weight back squat?  No…but I sure as heck want to ensure I can keep my guns out if the sun’s out.

lifelong wodnas

2.  WODdates with the man.  Nothing gives more butterflies than grabbing the hubs, sneaking away to our gym, and having a go with Pukie the clown.  Same workout at the same time, It’s GREAT.   It’s exhilarating for me.  It builds solidarity, it’s a shared passion, and we accomplish something productive together.  My goal is to get my fitness levels back up for our WODdates to be back on.

3.  Eventually: return to finishing WODs at rx.

So that’s me.  But whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish, define it.  Goals can change from season to season.  


Internalize the difference between a goal and a desire

Goals are attainable, measurable, quantifiable.  You set them, create a plan of attack, and reach them.  Desires are different: aspirations, wishes, longings.

Goals are achievable–they are blocks you can check off.  Desires are arrows aimed at targets.  We can do everything to set up perfect conditions for the arrow to hit that bullseye, but we have to keep our fingers crossed that a rogue gust of wind doesn’t knock it off course.  A desire cannot be a condition that defines my success. 

Fitness goals vs. desires kind of merge into a murky gray-zone… because injury, malady, timing and circumstances can throw things sideways.  So it’s wise to guard your fitness-heart.  How much power am I giving those desires in my life?  It helps to identify what’s in my power to accomplish, versus what I can only cross my fingers for.

Use the power of a strong desire to propel you into doing what it takes to meet the goal you have in mind. Then can begin working on the plan to successfully accomplish the goals.

Good luck!

So, while I am not going to win a third place medal any time this year, it feels fab knowing that each opportunity of exercise is another productive step forward.  It is one of the few things in my day that can’t be undone.  That feeling is the best.

Have you had a long hiatus from exercise?  Do you have any other tips that has helped you get into the right mindset for a solid restart?  Please share in the comments!!

Thanks for reading,

Revisit the definitions of the 10 Crossfit General Physical Skills:

 **CrossFit disclaimer: I am using the CrossFit terminology and verbiage because that is the organization that taught me most what I know.  CrossFit lit a fire in me, gave me a dose of motivation for exercise/fitness so large.  I have been impacted for life because of what they have taught and shared.  I have to (and want to) give them the credit for every bit of insight I have gleaned from them.  However, if the word “CrossFit” causes you to recoil…if you have a bad taste in your mouth about it…if you have a preferred/better method for physical fitness, then you’re still good.  Just stay on your favorite method/program you love the most. 

It really only matters to keep moving and enjoy it.

If you don’t like CrossFit, then this will be hugely validating.

Also, this.  


Please share, and pin!!  

25 comments on “So You Haven’t Worked out in a Year.”

  1. Leigh,

    I really appreciate this (especially from someone like you who seems impossibly good at diet and exercise always) because after a move, nine months of pregnancy, and newborn stage, I have been working to get back in a groove with fitness and diet. Doing my first round of Whole30 ever and Trevor is suffering through it with me too—cleaning up diet is definitely essential even though it is no fun! My work out struggle is having something to do when I get to the gym. I need a plan—a class if I can get there on time with my Little’s, a couch to 10k (currently doing), or a CrossFit/HITT/strength work out (these are hardest for me to come up with but I probably love them most). Much more productive and motivated with a plan. And as for goals, well, mine are simple for now: fit back into clothes in my closet(which have been honestly, embarrassingly not fitting as well since kid #1), look good for my husband (and to like myself when I look in the mirror), and to not look like I had a baby this year when I take my pasty, white self to the neighborhood pool this summer.

    Thanks for being genuine, encouraging, and motivating—taking the time to do so for others—bc I am sure with five, that is difficult!

    Erin McLaughlin

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Erin, first of all, you are an incredible woman. I love your spirit and your quiet strength and how you are such a phenomenal listener. I miss our walks, those were so renewing. It will always be my favorite form of exercise because it combines the outdoors with friend time as well as a low impact/slow burn kind of workout. With that said, stay on it but give yourself lots and lots of grace. 🙂 I have a feeling that in a decade I will look back and balk–why did i worry so much about this stuff when I had my babies in my nest! What a distraction from what really mattered most!! Still, stay with it. Even if you do something different everyday, it is a deposit. Having all the littles is so emotionally and physically draining—I can speak to this because I am going through it again all over again, ha! You are doing great things, and I am proud to call you friend. Thanks for reading!!


  2. I have been exercising for over a year but I think I need something more. I have not shredded any pants sizes so the next step for me is to figure out how to eat healthier and work out in a better format.


  3. I get the struggle! I’m a working mom of 3 who blogs on the side. My husband works long hours and it feels like I never have any time. A few months ago, I was exhausted and unhappy. A friend shared a keto diet with me and I loved it. The weight started falling off but I was achy. I began working out and all feel in line. I have a ton of extra weight around my belly to rid or but I feel better overall!


  4. I go in spurts – sometimes I’m SUPER into exercising or watching my diet, and other times I just can’t keep it in check. The result, yep, it’s a yo-yo. I hate it! But I’m just not ready to buckle down as of yet. One day I will!


  5. What a great article and it makes so much good sense! I need and desire to work out to improve my cardio. I am not getting younger. I have finally taken all the storage and crap off my treadmill lol now I need to get on it and USE it! I also have a gym membership and was doing okay getting there until winter came. I am So glad spring is here because honestly I prefer to exercise outside.


  6. We started working out about a year ago, partially to shed some pounds, but also because it gives us such an amazing boost of energy! I feel great going into work now. Maybe a little sore at times – but energetic!


  7. This is very encouraging. After having two kids, I let myself fall from being fit to flab and no one to blame but me so I decided that I should make a change two years ago and I haven’t slowed down since, it’s a great feeling. My husband is even on board now with getting fit too, which I enjoy very much!


  8. This is such a great post. This is extremely encouraging and I hope it helps many. I haven’t been exercising like I should either. I really need to get back in to it.


  9. I havne’t worked out in a couple of months until last week and it’s hard getting back Ito it but I always feel so much better when I do!!


  10. The past couple weeks I have told myself that I was going to buckle down and get back into shape… Didn’t help when on day 2 I twisted my ankle. But I am happy to say, ankle is feeling better and I’ve done a work out for 4 our of 4 days so far! Plus changed some of my eating habits! Woot


  11. I must admit, I don’t exercise like I should. So I make it a goal this year to really get into it. I want to try running, but for a start I am doing some walking.


  12. “Goals are achievable….” YES, YES AND MORE YES!!! Start checking those boxes! Right there with you mama. I love reading your journey anf seeing your growth.
    You put a voice to my thoughts as I can always relate to your perspective.


  13. Your banana sweetened coconut flour muffins brought me here and I couldn’t be happier for finding THIS gem! Clean eating and picking up heavy things again feels just as good as it did a year ago. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t be as good as before, but in reality, I knew my body would remember what to do. Keep rocking your journey!


  14. I have literally had this open in my browser since you posted it. I just read it to motivate me to work out this morning. Everything from the excuses, the benefits of exercises, the form, the goals, etc hit home.
    My favorite was “sit is the one thing that can not be undone!” Very true, it is the one thing that once I have done it, i feel accomplished. Some days it is the only thing I have accomplished! Thanks Leigh


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