“You’re still caught somewhere between your plans and your dreams so that neither end up turning out right.” – Dawes
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been having a hard time lately. I’ve been in one of those moods where you question every thing; you question its validity and purpose in your life. You question if your hard work is worth it or if it will even make any difference. I’ve been sort of stuck lately, kind of in limbo between who I was and who I want to be.
I’ve had some success recently in a few of my races, but overall I’m not even close to where I want to be. I’m not even on track with the conservative schedule I had laid out for myself; I’m rapidly falling behind. When I get to go for a run it brings down my spirits that I have a hard time with it when just a few weeks ago I could do the same run faster and more effortlessly. I’m still having some issues with my old recurring injuries. My weight loss has pretty much stalled. The few workouts I’ve managed have been a struggle to finish when they were recently much easier. I haven’t been getting great sleep and the sleep I’m getting isn’t enough. I’m starting to wear out at work and my motivation to be productive is hanging on by a thread.
These are the times where someone’s life can fall apart. These are the moments that ruin even the best laid plans. When all of life’s stressors come bearing down on you at once some days it’s hard to even get out of bed. When you are in this situation how could you expect yourself to say no to that donut? How can you expect to give it your all in a high intensity workout? Well, the answer is that you can’t. No matter how hard you’ve worked to get to where you are it can all fall apart in an instant. The alcoholic tells himself that it’s just one little drink; you quit before you’re strong enough to do it again, right? The gambler sits down for just a couple of hands at the card table, just a little distraction from everything that’s been going on, “I’ve earned this”, she thinks. This is where you have that one little cheat meal, or you skip that extra-hard workout. But it doesn’t stay as ‘just one cheat meal’, does it? One cheat meal turns into an extra snack the next day, which turns into another cheat meal and before you know it you’re not cheating anymore, you’re just right back where you started. Skipping the workouts results in the only reps you do that day are pressing the snooze button.
Even the strongest of us have days where no matter how hard you want something or how hard you try, you just won’t have the strength to make it through. That’s a discouraging thought for many people. Feelings of regrets begin to seep in. You feel disappointed in yourself. These feelings of self-loathing can lead to more cracks, until there are so many cracks that everything you’ve built comes tumbling down. Will power is a muscle. You can work it out by pushing yourself, and it’ll get stronger. So strong that you can feel invincible. But just like any other muscle a workout wears it down. If you keep pushing your physical muscles eventually they are going to start hurting. Your body is letting you know you’ve gone too far; it needs time to recover. But your mind tells you that you have to keep going, you can’t lose all that progress. You keep pushing until one day something breaks. You tear your muscle or connective tissue. Now your working out days are over for a long time. Your will power is no different. And when it crashes it crashes hard.
That’s where I am finding myself these days. I thought I could just keep hammering away, full steam, and I’d break through any walls that got in my way. Well, I was proven completely wrong. I’ve barely been managing a workout a week. Maybe one short, slow run. I’m eating all kinds of things I shouldn’t. I’m eating later and earlier than I should. Nothing seems to be going right lately. And here’s the important part: it’s all my fault. If I had spent a little more time taking care of myself and really giving myself the attention I deserved none of this would have happened. Rather than beat myself up about it I think it’s more important to use this lesson to better myself. And I think this is an important lesson to learn: You have to take care of your self. And when I say that, I mean your ‘self’ not yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, if not more so. Take your time. Slow down once in awhile. Give yourself the break you deserve from all of that hard work.
So how can you do it? How can you survive getting in shape while eating right and balancing your work and family life? How can you go all out in life to get the most out of it without crashing and burning? If you take it too easy you fall off the wagon, too hard and you won’t be able to sustain it. Where is the middle-ground? The middle-ground is consistency. The key to making all of this work is being consistent. It sounds easier than it is, but if you can build consistency into your life then it is no longer a chore to meet your goals. Be consistent with your workouts. For me, that’s getting out of bed on time so that I can get my workout in before I start my day. Be consistent with your diet. For me, that would be staying in ketosis so I will have to pass on the free bagels in the break room. If you can be consistent it’s not a ‘diet’ anymore, It’s a way of life. You don’t question that you have to get dressed before you leave the house, do you? That’s just something you have to do. We are used to it, so it is what it is. You get dressed and you don’t spend any time fretting over the fact that you have to get dressed.
How does one become consistent without burning out? This is the part where you have to listen to yourself and know what’s right and what’s wrong for you at that moment. In the example above, some days you might feel great and you spend an hour in the mirror getting ready, and you look fabulous. Some days you just don’t have the energy and you throw on an old hoodie and some sweatpants (and you still look fabulous by the way!). The fact of the matter is you still got dressed. Some days will be better than others, but you still did it. The same mindset can be applied to anything. Not feeling like you can smash your marathon PR today? Don’t! Go for a nice slow jog around the neighborhood or even a long walk with a friend or loved one. Really having a hard day with food cravings? Get online and look up healthier alternatives to the foods you crave. Or better yet go out and get a healthy treat from the store or a restaurant. Just because it’s a hard day for you doesn’t give you an excuse to give up. Just like you have to get dressed you have to stay on track with what you want in life. You must be consistent.
You don’t have to be perfect everyday. You don’t have to be perfect any day. Just be your best and do your best. The fact of the matter is you are strong enough to overcome whatever it is you are fighting in your life. But it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Level the battlefield and take the ‘work’ part out. Make your healthy, happy life a habit. Make it so that it’s second nature. Make it your life. It’ll take some time and energy to get there, but once you do you will be free to take on whatever the world tries to throw at you. It was a hard lesson learned for me recently, but it’s an invaluable one. Today is a great day to start. Tomorrow is a great day to keep going. Hold your head up, you’ve got this!!