Thursday, June 11, 2009

Getting up after a fall

You’re climbing your personal mountain and you’re doing great. You’re part-way up the slope – maybe even just about to set foot on the summit, when you lose your footing, slip and tumble back down. So there you are, if not back where you started, at least a good distance from where you were. You sigh. Stupid. You shouldn’t have let that happen. You stand up, dust off, and get moving again. That’s life – it has it’s ups and downs, but as long as you keep going, all will be fine.

But how do you cope when you just can’t seem to get going again? You look ahead up the slope and see the distance you have to climb. Again. You know that you’ve done it before, which should make it easier in terms of mental challenges. But somehow, it’s harder. There are all those feelings of failure to deal with – you’re angry with yourself for falling in the first place. Maybe you sprained your ankle in the fall, and you try and try, but it simply isn’t ready to handle the climb just yet and you keep sliding back down. Or what if it’s kind of comfortable down here? You know; climbing that slope is hard and painful and tiring. Maybe you should just stay here and rest for a while before you move on. The thing with that is, the longer you rest, the harder it can be to get going again.

I see many people who fall down the mountain at some point in their health and fitness journey. They get sick or injured, or life gets majorly busy, perhaps they go on holidays, maybe extreme stress is a factor – it doesn’t matter the reason, just that something has happened to prevent them from carrying on with their normal exercise and/or nutrition habits. Some jump right back up and start climbing again, but others just can’t seem to find the strength or commitment to start back on that climb to the top. They want to, but something always seems to hold them back.

They become increasingly frustrated with themselves, and every day that they don’t meet their exercise and nutrition targets only adds to the frustration. Each night they are determined that tomorrow will be the day. This time they’re serious – they’ll absolutely get up at 5:30am, hit the gym, smash that workout, then eat six perfect, balanced, healthy meals over the day before hitting the sack early. Each day that they “fail” to do those things, it gets harder and harder to even imagine themselves as the fit and healthy person they used to be. What is WRONG with me? they wail…. Why can’t I follow through on my plans?

How about a bit of a shift in thinking? If you’ve fallen a long, long way from your usual position as Ms Kick-arse Athlete, or Ms Scale Success or whomever you see yourself as, then perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect to transition back to that state from where you are right now, with just a snap of your fingers. Maybe a different approach is required.

Every time you set your lofty daily goals and don’t achieve them, you’re going to feel like a failure. And each time you “fail”, you deduct a little more from your already sinking self-confidence. So how about taking the baby steps approach? Set yourself some small and realistic goals that you can quite easily achieve. If you’ve been managing zero exercise, set a goal of going out for a short walk as tomorrow’s baby step. If you’ve been eating a steady diet of total crap, challenge yourself to make one healthy meal tomorrow. Get the idea?

You might scoff at the idea of a 30-minute walk as exercise, but here’s the thing: If you set that as tomorrow’s goal and you actually achieve it, mentally you will feel that you’ve succeeded. It might be in a very small way, but it’s still a success. And success breeds success – once you achieve that goal, set another. Build on your successes until you’re back where you want to be in terms of training and nutrition. It may take a short time, it may take longer, but just plan to add more small challenges each week until you get there.

Before you know it, you’ll be powering up that slope again.


Kristy said...

Thanks Kerryn for a great article, which is exactly where I feel like I have been for a while, but the one step at a time approach seems like a great idea.

I really enjoyed reading it :)

Unknown said...

Fantastic post Kek!

ss2306 said...

Excellent post Kek.

I like to look at it like there's no such thing as failure only experience and each experience can also get you one step closer to the top of the mountain.

God knows I've climbed a few.

Debstar said...

Brilliant analogy Kek.
I have been at the top and I have enjoyed the odd picnic at the bottom.

I prefer it at the top.

Magda said...

This post should have been called "To Magda" as its me to a T right now.


Unknown said...

You must have had a keyhole into my life at this point in time! That was a great post.

Lisa said...

Wow Kek, this is me! I need to stick with my 30 minute walks and slowly build back up to where I was almost 2 years ago doing 300km's a week on my bike and 30kg's lighter!
I want to get there again but need to gradually build up, reading things like this really helps, thank you!

Kek said...

Happy to help, ladies.


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