Whether you’re getting back in shape or recovering from back pain, consistency makes a huge impact on your results, something that all understand if asked directly. For some of us, the benefits of working out are transformative. For example, it could be that working out just makes you feel better because you know it’s a healthy thing to do for longevity. It could be that working out leaves you feeling energised and as much as you sometimes don’t feel like it, you ALWAYS feel better afterwards. For others, it has been through getting into regular working out and exercises that you’ve been able to put back pain or sciatica in the past, a “way out” from daily pain and suffering that you do not want to experience again. The motivation matters little, but sometimes this commitment can get the better of us.
Given everything that’s been going on the last few weeks for us, it felt like a timely opportunity to share a little bit of a different episode, for some of you this will hopefully give you permission not to be so hard on yourself, and for others a little inspiration that things can happen to us and the main thing we have control over is how we react going forwards.
Great progress can be thrown off course
When things are going well and you’ve got a nice routine, things feel good, you’re getting the outcome that you want from your exercise and workouts, no matter the driving force behind doing them. For me personally, working out regularly is important on a number of accounts, it keeps my body strong and fit, improving as the months go by, but also keeps my mind sharp and focused. I also find that “things” just seem to go better when I’m working out with real consistency. I know for others, for example members of the program, who’ve come back from debilitating back pain, it is almost a ritual, just like for me, that the workouts are done and that’s that! Their current lower back health is tied inextricably to their discipline of keeping up with the exercises. I remember all too well a member thinking about whether or not having Christmas day off a few years back was acceptable!
Sometimes however, we find that circumstances happen and we can find ourselves not able to workout in the way we like as much, and this can really catch us out. It could be illness, it could be an injury, work or family commitments, the list goes on. Sometimes things just happen and we do fall off the wagon a little.
Life can have “seasons”
This is something that I do struggle with on the occasion that it does happen and I thought today sharing some of this could well be helpful for those of you who, for whatever reason, find yourselves pulled in different directions and unable to keep to the structure you’ve come to rely on.
As many of you know, we’ve recently been working to upgrade things significantly inside Back In Shape and have been working tirelessly to get the Back In Shape Studio, our new Headquarters, turned around and ready for the next “season”. This has meant all hands on deck from our end, to make sure everything is being done. In recent weeks, we’ve had a flurry of activity:
- Jiu Jitsu competition at the start of the month (family day out)!
- Rushing around taking deliveries
- Painting the Studio (the wrong colour)
- Painting the Studio again (the right colour)
- Last minute call by a team for the NFL to treat a player in London before the game.
- Travelling to London as a guest speaker at the IDD Therapy conference.
- And much more!
Needless to say that training and working out has taken somewhat of a back seat the past few weeks. For me this does start to get me down a little as I generally don’t feel as good when this starts to occur.
The thing that really helps me get through these times is to take a step back and remind myself that life has seasons, and these seasons come and go. Taking a moment to think about the temporary and peculiar nature of the present circumstances can help bring your mind back to “centre” and allow you to push on. Yesterday morning was one of two formal gym sessions in as many weeks, it was a short one, because something is better than nothing, and yes, I was not using the same weights as I was at the end of September. It’s easy to be frustrated at times like that thinking progress has been lost, but our bodies are amazing, and as this “season” comes to an end, the studio is finished and we can formulate a new routine that works with the new circumstances, it won’t be long before things are on the up again workout wise.
It’s normal to lose some strength & fitness
One of the changes that such occurrences have on us all is a loss of strength and conditioning. For many in the program, these downgrades can be seen as setbacks and are really frustrating. The thing is, they’re completely normal and are testament to the adaptability and dynamism of our bodies. If you’ve had some time where you’re not as consistent, like me, then give yourself the room as you get back into things to not punish yourself for not slotting right back in at your old intensity!
What’s more, you’ll rebuild faster than you did the first time in nearly all cases! Just like I did the other day, acknowledge your strength changes, accept this is the current status quo and crack back on!
Action steps for your next “season”
I wanted to offer you a few things that help me get through these times mentally so that when it next happens to you, you feel completely in control of things, and yes, it will happen to you at some point.
Remind yourself it is a season not your future
The most important thing to acknowledge at the moment is that these periods of time are in fact seasons, they come and go, sometimes winter is a little longer and summer a bit shorter, other times we have 20 degree heat well into september! One thing is for sure though, it will pass! Reflection of this will usually lead you to a better understanding and expectation for when it is likely to be due to transition into the next season.
Focus on the skeleton crew
Time might not be there for you to do everything you want, something is always better than nothing, even if it’s some stretching, a few blasts on the towel in the evening after a long day, doing something consciously can really help you keep things going well.
In other instances you might find that instead of your usual daily workouts, you can make time for 3 workouts per week, although perhaps only 50% of your usual 6 sessions per week, and maybe shorter sessions too, those 3 workouts are invaluable at keeping a degree of maintenance up and keeping you sane during these times.
Work on a different area
It might well be that you’ve got an injury of some description which means that you cannot quite work one area of the body, but other than that, you’re ok. In these times, it can be helpful to shake things up and work on another area of your body. A good example from this last week in the membership was Annie who’d injured her foot making weight bearing not possible for the next 4 to 6 weeks, this makes many of the staple exercises impractical. As such it gives rise to a perfect opportunity to work in other areas and in slightly different ways for a good period of time. Yes it is a shake up, but coming out the other side, in 12 weeks time or so, the combination of return to “normal workouts” with this extra time on variation in the bank will mean that some areas that could have been inadvertently neglected get some extra care and attention.
Work on a different goal
It might well be that your schedule leaves you with literally no time for anything during the day, sometimes this can be a perfect opportunity to spend some time working on aspects of flexibility. Personally I find stretching before bedtime quite relaxing and almost helps me unwind mentally, and get into the “mindset” for sleep. If you’re finding that you’re struggling for time during the day, this can be a nice avenue to work hip flexibility, for example, with the flexibility program to help improve hip mobility in this “season”.
Focus on getting better if you’re unwell
If the season that you’re in is one of being unwell, perhaps a cold or flu, or some other issue, that’s affecting your “systems” the most important thing you can do is focus 100% on getting better. Although it can be tempting to force yourself to workout, this can be unwise. Some practice like flexibility mentioned previously could be appropriate but spend your time recovering, eating well, staying hydrated and using any other remedies you might have at your disposal to ensure that you kick the illness properly. When you do, it’s important to still take it easy the first few sessions back, know that you will have lost fitness, you won’t feel full of energy like before, you’ll have lost some strength too. Ease yourself back into the workout over a week or so and again, before you know it, you’ll be back at it!
Give yourself permission to focus on getting better, instead of punishing yourself in these times for not doing the exercises!
Take a long term view of your wellbeing
Ultimately we have to take a long term view of our health and wellbeing, life will happen to all of us, although we have some say in the matter, some aspects will be beyond our control. What we can always control however, is the way we react to these circumstances and the actions we take. Hopefully you have a few ideas for the next time you go through a challenging season, embrace it, move through it and know that it too will pass. If you’re one of our members, know that we’re there for you along the way! If you’re having one of these seasons, you can always post in the group and we’ll be happy to guide you accordingly to make sure you can move forwards in the best way possible.