STAY in Shape!
Those of you that know me well know that I am a big fan of the New York Yankees. I am therefore a HUGE Derek Jeter fan.
There was an article in Sports Illustrated a few years back that let the reader in on Jeter's personal life a little bit. One key factor that the interviewer touched on was Derek's fitness regime.
Derek said that when he was younger, and broke into the league, he stayed in shape all season long and then took a few months off. But now that he is getting older, he finds it is much easier to 'stay in shape' rather than 'get in shape'.
He said that after the baseball season completes, he likes to take a little bit of time off, but then gets right back into the swing of things (ha!) and works out hard in the offseason.
Although Derek is a professional athlete, this same mentality can and should be followed by those fitness-minded individuals. A lot of times, people start a workout program and then a few things happen;
1) They experience a lot of pain via sore muscles and exhaustion, so they give up on their workout plan shortly after beginning because things are 'too hard'.
2) They continue to fight through the pain, complete a few months of exercise, then go back to their sedentary lifestyles. This is fine, but 6, 8, 12 months down the road when they feel like getting back into a routine, they experience that same pain and exhaustion they had at the beginning of their last round...rinse and repeat.
The most ideal scenario here would be to dedicate yourself to lifelong fitness so that you are continually growing and making yourself stronger, faster, healthier.
Think of fitness as climbing a descending escalator. Scenario 1 above would be somebody starting at stair 1 and climbing up a stair at a time. Since they are out of shape, each stair is quite difficult, in fact, many people try to tackle 2 stairs at a time for 'faster' results, and end up discouraging themselves, quitting, and having the escalator carry them back down to ground level.
Scenario 2 would be an individual starting on stair 1, and taking things 1 stair at a time for a few weeks/months, then when they feel they have reached a 'high enough' level, they let their bodies travel back down to the ground floor. Then, weeks, months, or years later when they decide they wish to exercise again, they have to start all over from stair 1.
Wouldn't you rather take a stair at a time, every day, getting yourself into a routine, so that as you age and grow older, the stairs actually become easy, then you find yourself taking 2 stairs at a time, or 3 or even 4!
Now there are going to be a few days here and there that you are busy, or have a cold/flu/some other illness side tracking you. But if you minimize the amount of time you take off, then you can keep a steady pace and never have to travel back down to the ground level.