2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The “Set-Back”
Don’t Visit Set-Back City in Your Exercise Routine
This week’s guest post is the sophomore edition from my counterpart at the UMedGym, Adam Knapp. If you haven’t yet, take a look at his first article on David Drinks Fitness “Resolve in Your Resolution.” Adam has a keen perspective on the mental side of fitness, and today’s post will demonstrate that. Take a look, and you can learn how not to visit “Set-Back City” in your fitness routine…
I was only a boy scout for one year, but I remember the motto: Be Prepared. Here is what Wikipedia has as their official motto: “Be Prepared in Mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.”
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not always prepared. I spend way too much money eating out due to lack of preparation with home prepared food.
I could fill this article with valuable clichés like “You need to make the time!” But I won’t.
I found it interesting that when I copied and pasted the scout’s motto, “Be Prepared in Mind” was bolded. That is what this article is about: a mindset. The proper mindset will prepare you for the inevitable – the “set-back!”
I’ve been in the training/exercise world personally or as a coach for 30 years. I know as a coach that the set-back seems to derail people’s adherence and dampen their spirit. But I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. The set-back is just part of the process. It can even be used as motivation.
At this point, let me take a step back and ask, what is a set-back? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a set-back is: “a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely.”
Earlier, I said that set-backs are inevitable. They’re going to happen. But it is important that you KNOW they are going to happen, and prepare for them.
For example, if you knew you were going camping in cool weather, wouldn’t it seem ridiculous to end up there and not have a sleeping bag? It’s like going across the country in a car and not having a spare tire ready to go. If you don’t have a plan for the set-back, you could be stuck with a flat tire on the side of the road in your physical life.
Now for the part where the article becomes applicable to real life, and not just some dude in a gym trying to pontificate about a bunch of hot air.
How to Avoid the Set-Back
If you write down, or even just contemplate what your set-backs are, and then have a mental plan in place, you won’t be wasting your time. Instead, you’ll know what has set you back in the past and how you can avoid it or get back on track in the future.
Here are the most commonly observed set-backs:
becoming ill (cold/flu)
big events (weddings, projects at work)
other family obligations
You may have a few of your own, but most importantly, what is the plan when they come up? Do you have one?
An Example of a Common Set-Back:
Someone gets the flu. This is rough. You’re sometimes talking about a week or more of feeling like the Grim Reaper is standing next to your bed while you sweat and shiver at the same time. You get back to work, school, or running a household and everything is behind. You might still feel weak for a while when you get back.
We’ve All Been There
But if you still care about your health, you should try to get back into your exercise routine!
Maybe you say as part of the plan: “One week after I am back to work, I will go to do my exercise routine.” You know you will feel weak. You know that you will have to back off the intensity. You might feel disappointed that you lost so much of what you worked for, but you could flip that mindset and just be happy that you made it back. You feel better than you did the week before.
Acceptance. Gratitude. You get the opportunity to come back.
Another Common Set-Back:
Let’s say you get an injury. You might need a professional, like a physical therapist, to give you advice on how to modify your exercise routine. But most injuries don’t require that you should shut down all activity and become sedentary. Much of physical therapy is actually movement and modified exercise done in the right way.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people get an elbow injury and then act like they can’t work their legs.
The Old, “I Can’t Exercise Because I Hurt My Finger” Huh?
The injury could throw you off, or…it could be motivation to work hard around it! If it’s injured, it will be weaker when the pain subsides, and then you are more susceptible to another injury. Wouldn’t it be prudent to build it up before that happens?
The plan should be to take action by finding out what you can do, when you can do it, and what you should avoid. Stopping the routine will set you up for other issues that come from being sedentary.
I think you get the picture.
Planning to deal with the set-backs that have thrown you off in the past gives you a better chance of not getting so far off track. It can be helpful to share this with a friend also, so they can hold you accountable.
One Final Tip:
Taking one step back, there is one essential piece to consider before you can ultimately conquer any set-back. That is:
Why are you really doing this in the first place?
Having something or someone that you love as the center of your motivation is powerful. It will take you further than focusing on pounds on a scale or the perceived drudgery that some feel is exercise. You need a vision of health and wellness that is bigger than yourself.
Whether it’s your grandchildren, your children, your love of being able to function, your spouse, your independence, your ability to travel, or anything else that you hold dear, these things motivate you. They can help you get through any set-back and give you the courage to keep pressing on in your journey.
I asked one of the staff here at the Carlisle UMedGym what knocks her off of her exercise routine. She said that when her kids need more help, she falls off her exercise routine and is stressed. She said that the irony is that’s when she probably needs the exercise most. She is probably a better mom when she remains healthy herself.
So, if you know in advance that you ARE going to miss some workouts, perhaps because an injury, illness, or something else in life getting in the way, that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be a step back at all.
The set-backs will always happen, whether or not you plan for them. However, the real set-back comes when you don’t have a plan for how to get back on the horse.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Plan ahead of time for set-backs. Then, when they arrive, use the motivation you have as a springboard to get back on track.
The set-back can either be a true set-back, or it can be an opportunity to learn and get better.
It’s your choice!
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