There's always more to learn

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Q: How can I stay motivated and optimistic when "life gets in the way"?

A: This is so hard; I know. You've got a good thing going and then something throws you off, maybe it's an injury, maybe the weather changes and it's dark in the morning, maybe family life or work responsibilities shift and your schedule is thrown off. Sometimes it doesn't take much to kick all your goals and good intentions out the window.


First off, revisit your "why". Remind yourself why you are trying to workout more, eat healthier, sleep better, or whatever you've been trying to improve. You're in this for the long haul. Health isn't something that you can check off a list and move on; it's a lifestyle and as they say, "the only constant is change". Your routine needs to have fluidity to it, flexibility to shift and move with the other important parts of your life. When you remind yourself of your why, you are reminded of the bigger picture and the need to be gentle with yourself.


Sometimes we get so involved in the day-to-day completion of the routine that it becomes a black-and-white, success vs. failure situation. Complete the routine = I am a success. It's dangerous to define yourself by such narrow parameters. You are a complex person. Practice taking a step back and looking for things in your day that went well; maybe you didn't get a workout in after work because your child needed your help with a project or you had to make dinner for your family. You can look at these things are interruptions, or you can look at them as opportunities to show love for your family. Then rather than seeing only the "failure" of missing the workout, you can also see the "success" of being generous with your time and energy for the good of your family. Learn to see multiple perspectives of situations and choose the one that helps you stay positive and optimistic about the way your life is going.


Motivation for staying true to your health and fitness goals is a very real challenge though, and giving yourself and break or looking at alternative perspectives can quickly become a habit of making excuses. Sometimes a little tough self-love is in order. As we looked at your "why" earlier, we also need to look at your "why not". What got in the way of sticking to your plan? If it's an injury that's halted your workout, what exercises are you able to do that don't aggravate the condition? If it's a change in your schedule that's interfered with your workout time, is there another pocket of time you could use? Can you break the workout up into smaller bits throughout the day? Can you find something that doesn't require a change of clothes, special equipment, or make you too sweaty so you have more flexibility? Can you multitask by going for a walk while on the phone, do body weight exercises while cooking or cleaning, or stretch while reading a story to your kids? Be creative. Think outside the box. Don't worry about what other people think. They probably don't notice or care; if they do, they'll probably secretly marvel at your ingenuity.


Lastly, you might need to adjust your goals. If you are training for a race, you might need to choose a different event or modify your finish time expectations. If you're trying to lose weight, you might need to alter the timeframe so you're not constantly discouraged. There's a delicate balance between pushing yourself and driving yourself into the ground. Pushing yourself generally generates excitement and a sense of incremental accomplishment; driving yourself too hard produces frustration and feelings of inadequacy and resentment. Do your research, listen to your body, talk to others, and choose goals and plans that are the right fit for where you are in your life at this moment.


If you're feeling alone in this whole process, reach out to us at Unexpected Athlete. We'd love to talk things over with you and help you get back on track. Our Convenient Coaching plan makes it easy to connect and get support on your timeline.