I shared in a previous post how I have been feeling discouraged because of my nerve injury (that continues to persist until now). I was so much more active, even just a year ago, and meanwhile these days it feels I’m reduced to managing pain symptoms on a day to day basis.
I can sense that I’m in the middle of a transition. I can see that what worked for me before is not working at the moment. I can’t just exercise like I used to. And so between the ups and downs, I have been brainstorming a lot about how I can continue to keep moving forward, and slowly accept that things are going to be different.
The problem I’m facing, is that I know I still want to be healthy and active. I want to move around as much as I can. I’m afraid of being stuck in bed, or incapacitated, and unable to do the things I enjoy, like travelling, woodworking, or gardening. Then how can I adjust my fitness habits to adapt to these circumstances?
I haven’t exactly figured out what specific things to do. But I do feel that overall, I have subconsciously started applying some principles to the way I’m approaching this issue. It’s a work in progress, and I’m trying to make it more explicit for myself. But what I’ve got at the moment is what I’m going to call my “four principles” as I figure out how to move forward.
1. Physical Aspect: Learning the language of the body
The first one I thought of is the physical awareness part of it. Obviously this has to play a part. In the past, as an athlete, I trained myself to push through the pain and go through whatever my body was feeling. At the time, that let me do things beyond my limits. But now, I'm struggling to listen to my body. I’m not sure what all these signals mean.
What does pain mean? What does stiffness mean? How do react to it properly instead of pushing through it all? How can I build a better relationship with my body and learn to listen to what its trying to tell me?
These are the kinds of question I want to learn about here.
2. Emotional Factors: Understanding my relationship to fitness
Before I was much more motivated, and I really enjoyed working out. I still do sometimes. But some days I'm lazy, or tired, or even discouraged. I’m trying to figure out what to do on those days where I feel like crap and I don’t want to do anything. What’s a good plan for those off days? (which are starting to become more common).
One thing that I'm working is dealing with the feeling of guilt. I've conditioned myself to feel bad whenever I skip a workout. But I’ve discovering that this doesn’t motivate me anymore. It just makes me feel worse about myself. So I want to be more sensitive to how I feel with regards to my workouts. And learn to work within how those feelings ebb and flow
3.Environmental Factors: Thinking about my surroundings
Along with the emotional principle, I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I can’t just force myself to work out at will. In fact, I find that recently I’ve had less and less willpower, and it takes a lot of effort just to get moving a little bit. What I’m working on here is how to “trick” or encourage myself to work out more by changing my surroundings.
I imagine, “if I had zero willpower, how could I make it so that I would still be a bit active somehow?” This makes me shift the focus to the things around me, instead of trying to always motivate myself from within.
At Precision Nutrition, where I enrolled in their course on nutrition coaching, Dr. John Berardi says that his first law of diets are:
"If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it."
I love that "law." It's completely consistent with my experience. I've had much more success in controlling my diet when I got to decide what I would buy and keep in my refrigerator. Because if it was lying around, I'd snack on it eventually.
Instead of fighting on that front, I want to adapt in my fitness thinking by making my environment more conducive to an active and healthy lifestyle
4. Social Systems: Finding out who supports me
Finally, I think it’s important to think about who has my back in my goals. In the past, I considered myself to be this lone wolf- doing what I liked. But as with the aspects above, that isn't really working for me so consistently anymore.
So I look now for like-minded people. I have an awesome community at GMB where we talk about fitness and health. It’s where I got my fitness certification from, and I found a home here in terms of people who think about fitness in a deep and meaningful way.
My wife also is very supportive in my journey, and she’s the one who sees my ups and downs up close.
What would be nice also is to have an in-person community (once COVID allows it to happen). Some people locally who are also thinking about fitness and health in a playful and non-intimidating kind of way.
All that would really help me build up a strong social support that could help me maintain my healthy lifestyle.
These are things that have been on my mind. I’d like to systematize it, find a way to make it well structured, and maybe it could become a useful template for how I can think about my fitness and health as I continue my journey through they months and years.