I have found, through sad personal experience, that it's much harder work to get back into shape, once I lapse and let myself get out of shape. Here's my real life example. I had posted some pics as I reached or nearly reached my fitness goals last fall. I was in very good shape, physically. As a mail carrier, last fall, like every fall in the history of the U.S. Postal Service, business picked up because of Christmas. Beginning about mid-November, I personally became so busy, that I was making it to the gym only 1-2 times per week, when prior to that, I had been going a minimum of three, and more usually four to five times per week. By December, it was down to 0-1 times per week.
As the only bread winner of our family, as the year ended, I found myself needing to get more hours at work to help with some upcoming expenses. So I signed up for the overtime list. I knew going into it that doing so would have an effect on my ability to exercise, but I felt that our needs were more crucial and that I could withstand the three months that I'd be on the list (we are able to sign up each quarter). My trips to the gym followed the same trajectory as they had done during the Christmas season.
Sometime in March, it became unbearable and I removed my name from the list with two weeks to go in the quarter (though we can only sign up on the list at the beginning of the quarter, we are able to remove ourselves from it at any time). I thought that this would create the opportunity for me to get back to the gym on a much more frequent basis. At first, this is exactly what happened. But starting the next quarter, I got back on the list for my own work assignment. There are basically two levels of O.T. that we can sign up for. One is to work only the O.T. on our own routes, and the other is to work O.T. on any route. Since I am a T-6, I do five different routes on their days off, thus, any one of those routes constitutes my own work assignment should there be a sick call, or one of them on vacation etc. Generally, when I have been on my own work assignment, I have gotten far less overtime than when I've been signed up on the other list. That wasn't the case this time.
Our office has had a veritable cornucopia of vacancies over the past few months and this has moved people who would generally have filled in the gap on sick days and vacation days to other routes, and left me (because I am on the "own work assignment" list) to do those routes when needed. The bottom line is, I'm still going to the gym quite a bit less than necessary to get back into shape, let alone reach the fitness level I had achieved back in October.
All these months of not being able to workout like I should be have taken their toll. I'm experiencing physical ailments that I should not be experiencing and wouldn't be if my health regimen was in place. It has not only physically effected me, but mentally, as I have recognized what's happening, but been powerless to change it. I spent several months a few years ago unable to do vigorous exercise because of a shoulder surgery that wouldn't heal properly. So I know all the signs of poor fitness.
I have a solution to that. I have put in a bid on another route, a single route this time. I will get less overtime if I get that route, but I will have much more time to get to the gym and I will take advantage of it. I should find out sometime next week if I get that new route. Likely, I will and I will need to make adjustments on spending and/or retirement withholdings in order to make ends meet. But the peace of mind I feel will be well worth the sacrifices.
Just so you know, my exercise of choice is walking or hiking. I do a lot of running only because of limited time and I can get a lot more calories burned and cardio done in a far less amount of time. Actually, hiking burns a lot of calories fast too, but I don't have mountains close enough to do it frequently enough. I don't like running, and never really have other than when I've been in really good shape, it was fun to run and test myself against other runners. So, I'm doing something I don't especially like, because of the results I get by doing it. It's quick, and it does the job. But if I had the time, I would walk or hike for fitness.
My advice is this. Find an exercise you'll do and do it. Get in shape and stay there, but if you find yourself in a situation like mine, don't lose hope. With determination, you too can get back in shape. I'll be waiting for your pics once you do.