It can be tempting to want to go "all in" and shoot for the moon, but you want to be careful not to let you "eyes get bigger than your stomach" when it comes to your goals.
With the right mindset, however, you can easily accomplish all the goals you set for yourself and get back to where you want to be.
Get Specific With Goals
To get where you want to go, it's important to have the right map. Without actionable and achievable goals to measure your progress against, it's like being lost in San Diego with a ap to Chicago. Do you want to regain your strength, burn fat and cut up, get back to X number of miles on the road or treadmill? Define your overall goal and direction, and commit.
It's important to set goals that are achievable over the timeline you want. You want to stretch, but not necessarily shoot for the moon. It's important to keep the vision of your long-term goals in mind, but for attacking this process you want to be as efficient as possible.
Give yourself about 2 weeks longer than you took off, time-wise, to get where you want to be. If you were gone for a month, then give yourself 6 weeks.
Write down your goals - whether on a sheet of paper or in the notes on your phone and ket on your background. The point is to keep them in a place where you will see them throughout the day. This fuels a part of our brain called the 'reticular activating system'.
This is the reason, for example, when you are interested in buying a red Audi, you will all of a sudden start seeing red Audi's everywhere. You are training your brain to subconsciously zero in on your goals.
Think about how your goals might have changed during the time that you've taken off. Evaluate how what's important to you overall might have changed, and how that impacts the goals you might set.
The best part about making progress in fitness is racking up small wins, accomplishing goals you set for yourself.. even if it's just getting out of bed in the morning.
These continuous small wins generate momentum, like a ball being spun on the finger of a basketball player. The more times you "hit" the ball, the faster it spins... but, when you stop, it will start to slow down.
Don't dwell on the negatives of the past, and if you do, use that anger, guilt, shame, or sadness to fuel you. This is known as "cashing in the chip on your shoulder" and can be highly effective. The most important part is, you are in control now.
Keep a vision in your mind of a time where you looked and felt your best, and imagine feeling the gratitude of passing that point one again and feeling even better.
Get Your Diet Sorted
Now that you have concrete goals set out, it's time to get serious about how you will accomplish them.
One of the most important parts about starting a new fitness program is the food you put in your body. This is true whether you are looking to gain muscle, lose fat, or just get healthier.
When it comes to choosing a plan to stick to, it's best to just choose one you think you CAN stick to. With diet and fitness in general, consistency is key.
If you are easing back into things, and even if you are not, I recommend macro based eating. Also called "if it fits your macros", this is the practice of calculating your body's metabolic needs for the day as far as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Then, you eat what you want, as long as you keep within those numbers. People often use apps like "MyFitnessPal" to help track macros.
Establish a Schedule
Next, take a look at your calendar. What time are you going to work out? Is it better for you to start the day off with momentum with a workout, or to destress at the end of the day? Everyone is different.
Pick a time when you feel you get the most intense workouts in, and stick with that time consistently. Don't pick a time you are not used to. If you are used to training at 9pm, don't decide to try to be a 5am lifter. Stick to what you can be consistent with.
Setting goals and shifting your mindset are the two most important parts of getting back into the gym after time off.