Life is not perfect or static. It changes and that means you may have to change too. More flexible perspective may help you adapt to the changes.
I was doing pretty well with my eating and exercise and finding a bit more balance with work and time to myself..determined to keep going and maybe strive to train to hike a 14,000 foot peak here in Colorado, my first since kids came along.
Then, I fell and broke my arm and had to have surgery. So I haven’t been super active, no more skiing, no final crosscountry ski outing with my daughter, not even a walk. I have been exhausted and sore. And then there’s the carb cravings and giving into them! My fitness level was on the rise and now it feels like it’s fading away. I know there is a good reason for that, which helps. And I certainly am well aware that this injury is temporary, which goes a long way to helping me have a flexible perspective. In no way does my experience compare to others adjusting to more difficult life changes or permanent injuries.
But as I climbed on my bike trainer for the first time, dripping with sweat after 3 minutes, it would have been easy to beat myself up and to feel really hopeless. Thoughts like ‘This used to be easy’ or ‘This shouldn’t be so hard’, or ‘This isn’t fair’ could have taken over. My sensory awareness could have been completely focused on the discomfort of heavy breathing and weak muscles and made my experience that much harder. And, I could have kept comparing my current experience to when I could ride endlessly and then expect myself to do too much for my first workout post surgery. Or maybe even throw in some comparing to the days when ‘we used to mountain bike for hours at 10,000 feet’. True, but not helpful. That is, obviously, not where I am right now.
Instead, I allowed myself to acknowledge that ‘this is hard, and I can keep going’. I told myself that I will get back to the path I was on- hopefully being more motivated to be a bit more fit. Self compassion like this helps soothe our emotions, turns down our stress response, which allows us to respond to our situation in a more helpful, less reactive, way. I focused my attention on being glad I was to be able to do any biking given how bad I had felt the week before. I tried to interpret my sweat and tired muscles as a good sign that I was working hard—even if it was for a brief time.
Realistic expectations and realizing all is not lost because of getting forced off track helped me get started again and keep going. As a client said recently ‘it does not have to be perfect to fit with my goals’. Ten minutes is better than no minutes to help me feel better, improve my sleep and work on my fitness level.
Life will not always be the way we want it to be. Set backs come. Or we start off on a lifestyle change feeling motivated and then it gets hard. It is hard and you can tolerate it and you have choice in how to respond. Will you adjust your thinking and focus so that you can allow yourself to get started again where you are? Can you cope with the frustration, but not get stuck in it so you can keep moving forward?
Where are you right now? What is one thing you could do to make a small change? Where do you need to put your focus- on how hard it is or how good it will feel to do something different?