Tag Archives: overcoming setbacks

emotional demons

How to Fight Inner Demons

We all have emotional demons. Whether it’s that little red devil on your shoulder saying: “It’s okay, skip your workout, eat the cake, what’s the big deal?” Or bigger demons like fear, uncertainty, or doubt preventing you from achieving your dreams. Don’t let those demons get the best of you.  Your dreams are there for the taking and meant to be achieved if you fight back.

I was a stressful kid who worried about a lot of things. My parents feared I would have an ulcer before turning 18. I can’t thank my mom enough for helping me deal with my demons. Oh, they still show their face now and then but, she and some other great mentors I’ve had along the way have taught me a few things that have helped me deal with them.

  1. Lower your expectations. I know this might sound counterintuitive to achieving goals, but it sure helped me to relax. I strived to get all “As” in middle and high school and be the best at everything I tried to the point where I’d work myself into a tizzy. We can’t excel at everything and we’re often stifled to try something new because we think we won’t excel at it. Of course we can’t excel at something we’ve never done before. When I became okay with getting a “B” and took myself a little less seriously, it opened the door to me enjoying life more fully.
  2. Put things in perspective. More often than not, I would exaggerate my circumstances in my mind. I began to realize that whatever challenge I was facing, it was typically not as bad or as important as I made it out to be. Is that work deadline really worth missing your son’s soccer game? Is the reason to lose 30 pounds to impress the people at your 30th college reunion or should you rethink your purpose?
  3. Start with the positive. I know very few people who truly look at the positive side of any challenge first. In all the years I’ve coached others I would say that 80% have a tendency to think about their weaknesses first rather than their strengths. Every day you have a choice to be grateful or regretful. You can set out to seize the day or become victim to it. Making a conscience effort to filter out the negative thoughts and be more mindful toward positive, uplifting ones does wonders toward building unshakeable confidence.
  4. Choose your emotional enemies. Some fears are meant to overcome and others are not simply because you may not be better off for it. If you haven’t started a fitness program because of fear of getting hurt, then you are making a choice to limit or shorten your life.  On other hand, if you have a fear of heights that doesn’t mean you have to go skydiving. Face the emotional demons that are truly preventing you from personal growth and development.

Overcoming Health and Fitness Setbacks

We all encounter setbacks and they occur for a variety of reasons. An injury, a busy time at work,  boredom with the current routine or  just lack of motivation to get back into a consistent workout and clean eating routine. Whether I am talking to people around town or coaching folks online from all over the world, more often I hear the latter. Most people know what they need to do to get back on track and want to get healthy, but they simply let other things take over. Before they know it they’re writing me asking me how to overcome this major setback that’s got them off course.  Here are few steps for getting back on track. I give credit to Bruce Knoll for some of thoughts below who provides advice on getting over any major setback. I think his thoughts apply nicely to getting our health back on track too.

Make a Decision. It’s frustrating when we get injured or simply find ourselves at the end of a busy week or month having not done any exercise. When a setback occurs, understand that we ALWAYS have options.  We can let the setback defeat us or we can dust off and keep going. We can remain disappointed in what has happened or we can get off our butt and determine how to get past it. It’s a natural tendency to feel bad about the outcome. This past July I injured my calf while running. This is my absolute favorite time of year to run. At 47 years of age, I’m just not bouncing back as quickly as I used to, even with the right rehab regimen. I have a choice. I can sit around and mope about what’s occurred or I can feel good about determining the next steps that will keep me moving forward. No matter what has happened there are always options and at least one of them will include ways to move forward.  NEVER carry a disappointment over to the next day. Go to bed with the belief that tomorrow you are going to get up with a new beginning and a new opportunity for moving in the right direction. Each day is a chance at a new beginning. But first, make the decision to move forward, to overcome and to conquer.

Take Action, immediately. This is the tough part. When a setback occurs the first thing you need to determine is what the next step is which gets you back on track and gets you moving forward. As Tony Horton says: “If the bottom half is injured, work on the top half” and vice versa.  What alternative type of exercise can I do that won’t make my calf worse? What alternative methods of exercise can I do that will still make me feel good and allow my calf to heal? Well, all sorts of things: spinning, yoga, strength training for my upper body, swimming.  You must determine the option that will get you moving again. What is your plan B?  In the case of unforeseen setbacks, the quick creation of a plan B is vital to success. Setbacks can only be addressed through action and the faster the action, the faster the resolution.

Focus on the Future and Learn from the Past. The actions you need to take should all be future focused. Keep your eye on the prize and on that desired future outcome. When I start coaching people I often ask them to write down their “why” for getting healthy.  I tell them that their why can’t be aesthetically focused.  The desire to simply look good doesn’t keep you track.  Your why has to be that true reason for getting healthy, the reasons that will pull you through on your toughest days. Maybe you’ve seen your loved ones suffer with bad health and you don’t want that to be you. Maybe you are parent and you fear not being around to see your child graduate or get married. Whatever your reason, take the time to think deeply about it. Write it down. Put it in a place where you can always pull it out when the setback occurs.  Your “why” is what helps you overcome setbacks.

In the same respect, don’t dwell on the past, learn from it. I go through periods when I start eating sugar and continue for days and weeks on end. I am a true addict; once I start on the path of eating sugar I have a difficult time stopping. This time of year is the toughest for me with the start of Halloween.  I say to myself: “Just one piece of chocolate to satisfy that craving.” Before I know it one piece turns into two, three, four, five… Yikes! The periods when I am successful overcoming this challenge are when I pause and think about the past. Like most addicts we want the high and forget the consequences of the high. When I stop and really think about how cruddy I will feel tomorrow, how disappointed I will be during my workout or how cruddy I will feel the hour following what I ate, I am less likely to give into temptation. If you’ve put on a lot of weight and you are not really sure how it got there, ask yourself: What really happened and why? What could I have done differently over the past few months or year? What could’ve helped? What didn’t help? What adjustments can I make going forward? Change is hard but boy, does it increase your chance of success.

Believe in Yourself. This is probably the most important message I can convey. Have you ever met and spent time talking with someone who has lost 30, 40, 50, 100 plus pounds? They will tell you that for years they felt that was how they were meant to be—overweight and obese. They will tell you that once they took the steps described above they started to move in the right direction. They will tell you that the turning point toward making progress was the true believe they could succeed. Every moment they had to make a choice they would repeat affirmations in their head such as; “I can get through this, I can overcome this, I can do this, I will not be defeated, I will achieve my goal.” Every person has a chance at getting their health and life back. Everyone CAN succeed. The more belief and positive attitude you have, the more power you give yourself to overcome the big and the little setbacks and the faster you move forward toward reaching your goals.