Overcoming Setbacks – 5 Tips to Help You Hit Life’s Curveballs

We’ve all been there at one point or another. Our training was going great, things were humming along, personal records were falling left and right when suddenly “BAM!”. Life throws you a monkey wrench and you’re wondering what just happened. A setback can happen at any point, to anybody. It could be a freak injury, a family situation, or even just one of your officemates bringing in a dozen donuts on a weak will day. The next thing you know you’re walking around with your arm in a sling bailing your son out of jail and covered from head to toe in confectioner’s sugar. Finding success in your fitness program can be tough in such a situation.

The path to fitness is a long one, and one of the best keys for success isn’t doing the right thing all of the time. That’s an unrealistic expectation. What’s more important is how you limit what goes wrong and overcome the situation when it does. Here are five methods to consider when things aren’t going according to plan.

1. Own the situation. It happened. Whatever “it” was that derailed your training and diet, accept it. Maybe it was a poor decision on your part or maybe it was unavoidable, but regardless of how you got there it’s the situation you’re now in. Accepting the situation allows you to analyze it and formulate a solid plan to overcome your situation.

2. Get back on the horse and move on. I see this all of the time with my clients. They’ll cheat on a meal, miss a meal, or otherwise mess up their nutrition. When this happens they’ll throw their hands up and either pig out the rest of the day, or under nourish themselves in penance to attempt to make up for it with their future meals. Just pigging out doesn’t help anybody. Attempting to compensate isn’t much better. All that does is set up an ugly cycle of missed meals and overeating. When this happens they’re better off owning the bad meal, see Tip #1, and just work on making sure their next meal is as it should be. This helps kick start the success pattern.

3. Remember past positive experiences. I’ve had a client that had lost about 20 pounds in my working with her when she slipped on some ice and sprained her ankle. She wasn’t able to move much for a couple of weeks and gained a few pounds back. When she returned she was very upset with the weight gain and her slight reduction in fitness capacity. I reminded her that when we started she was barely able to make it up the stairs and had already lost 20 pounds. Recovering ground for a couple of pounds wasn’t a big deal at all, since she’d already come so far!

This is another reason why keeping a journal can be so important. Since we see ourselves every day, we at times don’t realize how far we’ve come. A journal is your memory book and road map to success. You’ll see how far you’ve come and, more importantly, how you got there.

4. Have a lousy short-term memory. One of the best compliments that a baseball pitcher can receive is that they have a bad short-term memory. Think about it. Baseball is largely mental game and it can be very hard on the psyche when a pitcher throws his best pitch and gives up a home run. When that happens he has to face another batter and it’s still his responsibility to get them out. If he can’t get past what happened and keep his confidence up an inning can get ugly in a hurry. A great pitcher will give up the long ball, shrug it off, and pitch to the next batter as if nothing happened.

Bad things happen sometimes. Guess what? Life still goes on and the next moment is a fresh moment. What are you going to do with it? Wallow in the past and let it sour the future? No, you’re going to forget about it, move on, and consider the next moment on its own merit.

5. Don’t be afraid to enlist help. Why go through a hard time alone? Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a support network out there just waiting to help him or her. Heck, Tom Hanks only had a volleyball in Castaway, but it worked for him. There are people that will want to help you through a tough time and move you towards your goals. They could be a workout partner, friends, family, councilor, or a personal trainer but they’re all there to help support you.

A good support structure is encouraging while holding you accountable for your actions. Don’t waste your time with people who seek to belittle your goals and tear you down, regardless of how you feel about that person. Surround yourself with honest, positive people and you’ll go far.

Life isn’t perfect so don’t expect your road to fitness to be. When something negative happens then look back to a few of these basic tips to overcome it. If things were going right before then they most certainly can again, it’s just up to you to turn it around.

Isaac Wilkins, M.Ed, CSCS, NSCA-CPT is a private performance coach and personal trainer operating online and in Charleston, SC.

Isaac enjoys working with clients of all levels and helping them achieve their athletic, fitness, and health goals.

He can be reached for further consultation at wilkinspower.com wilkinspower.com or gotstrengthblog.com gotstrengthblog.com

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