How to get out of your pandemic exercise slump

When the pandemic hit, Rachel Love's exercise routine went out the window. She struggled to gain motivation until she set a goal in January to run a half marathon faster than her previous time. She joined a new gym, followed a training and meal plan, and met her goal by shaving 15 minutes off her race time. (KSL TV)


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SOUTH JORDAN — The pandemic threw off our routines and schedules, and for many of us, one of the first things to go was regular exercise. One South Jordan woman found a way to reprioritize her health through goal setting and discipline.

Like many other working moms, when the pandemic hit last year, Rachel Love started homeschooling her kids. Everything else went out the window.

"I couldn't go to the gym anymore and that was really hard because I was pretty extroverted," Love said. She was used to going to the gym at least four times a week in her pre-pandemic days. "I would drop off my son, and then I'd either go to the high fitness class, or I would bike or I would run the track," Love said.

With no gym or child care options, her workout routine hit a wall. She also started incorporating baking and cooking lessons into his son's homeschool plan. "Then we were cooking a lot and eating a lot and that caught up to me really quick," she said.

Both her physical and mental health suffered. "It was pretty discouraging and it was also confusing because we didn't know when the end would be in sight," Love said.

One of Love's friends invited her to run their first half marathon in July. "But the half marathon was really hard. We took lots of walking breaks. … We didn't have a very fast pace by the end," she said laughing.

"I had points where I was like, 'I don't know if I can do this,'" she recalled.

Last year, Rachel Love instantly started home-schooling her kids like many other working moms when the pandemic hit. As a result, everything else went out the window including regular exercise.
Last year, Rachel Love instantly started home-schooling her kids like many other working moms when the pandemic hit. As a result, everything else went out the window including regular exercise. (Photo: KSL TV)

Then another six months went by and Love said she hit a plateau again. "By the end of December, I weighed myself on a whim and was shocked at what I was on a scale. I had no idea that I had to let myself get to that point," Love described.

In January she decided to make a change. "This is not how it needs to be," she thought. "I have the choice right now to either continue to not exercise or make this a priority."

"I didn't expect myself to lose the weight super, super fast. I was gonna make gradual changes, do my best, and try to just be consistent and stick to it."

Love set a new goal: "I want to run another half marathon. But I want to run it faster!"

She found a new gym, started training and improved her diet. "I started running more, but taking less walking breaks while I was running, just to try and bring up my speed," she said.

When race day came, Love shaved 15 minutes off her time.

"It felt really good. I like teared up at the end. I was like 'I did it.' It was so exciting!" she said. "(I) was shocked at how easy, how much easier it was this time around."

Brittany Irvin, an exercise therapist with Intermountain Healthcare, says exercise goals should be both enjoyable and realistic. "I would tell someone at first to start small and to find something that's sustainable for them," she said.

Find someone to hold you accountable, she said such as "a friend or go into a gym and meeting people there or even hiring a personal trainer."

And most important, Irvin reminds people to maintain a healthy perspective. "Just to be patient with themselves and just to be kind to yourself," she said.

In July, Rachel Love and her friend ran their first marathon. Although they made it to the finish line, Love says the race was very hard and they took several walking breaks. The following year, Love set a goal to run another half marathon, but this time faster.
In July, Rachel Love and her friend ran their first marathon. Although they made it to the finish line, Love says the race was very hard and they took several walking breaks. The following year, Love set a goal to run another half marathon, but this time faster. (Photo: Rachel Love via KSL TV)

Irwin reminds people they aren't the only ones who lost sight of their goals during the pandemic. She urges people to just start. "There's going to be failures, there's going to be setbacks, but that's part of life and just … keep moving," she said.

She says people will see results even from making small changes such as, "having more energy during the day, being able to get better sleep."

For Love, the results paid off. "I've lost almost 20 pounds since the beginning of the year," she said.

She says she is happier, more energetic and confident. "I'm wearing clothes that I wore pre-pandemic, that during the pandemic, I was not comfortable wearing," she said laughing.

Love tells others it's not too late to make a change. "Try different things and fall in love with something and just run with it," she said.

She encourages others to not be afraid of trying something new and keep pushing through. "I was really nervous to try to run a half marathon. But then I fell in love with it," Love said. "Even though it's hard, to not give up and not to be afraid of doing something that's hard."

Irvin encourages people who are headed back to the office and worried they won't have as much time to exercise to set a reminder on their phone to stand up, stretch, or go for a walk throughout the day.

Photos

Aley Davis

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