Exercise Debt: Paying Attention is Success
I had a conversation with a client the other day on the topic of success. In the previous two weeks, she had been on top of her game 100%. She was meal prepping, hitting extra cardio, making her workouts, logging everything, and generally just being awesome.
And then life took over...
A stomach bug, some work stress, a home crisis, and car trouble took all of that 'in control awesomeness' and washed it away. She spent the following week floundering around, being hard on herself and simply trying to survive until we trained again. She vented to me about all that had happened, her feelings when she was on top, and her frustration now that it was seemingly gone. I took this opportunity to do what Trainers do:
Re-Center the world, Set a Baseline, and Get Back on the Wagon
We talked about all that happened. The successes and the perceived failures. And I did my best to separate the real issues from the perceived ones:
- (Real) She became ill - Didn't eat her diet as prescribed.
- (Fake) She made no progress forward because she didn't do 100% perfect.
- (Real) Work stress - Working late meant she didn't have time to get in the cardio she wanted
- (Fake) She put on 10lbs of fat because she only did 50% of what she intended.
- (Real) Family crisis (sick kid) - meant that mommy time had to take precedence.
- (Fake) The weight gain continued because she couldn't make enough time to workout.
- (Real) Car trouble - A fender bender put a couple days of travel stress in there.
- (Fake) Extra stress, lack of good diet, and lack of moving has totally erased 6 months of work.
The above list is where the inspiration for this article came from; because, that's how life seems to go, isn't it? We spend all this time trying to make everything perfect. We plan the perfect week, the perfect workout, the perfect meal selection, the perfect rest times...
How often does that actually occur?
I would unscientificly say at least 90% of the time, perfection is just a dream in the distance. But if that is the case (and we KNOW it is) why do we continue to beat ourselves up for not hitting everything on all cylinders?
We let our mistakes catapult us into overdrive to 'make up' for the behavior of life. Then that becomes an unsustainable force in itself; we spiral through this cycle of mistakes = overdrive, mistakes = overdrive, until we run out of energy and we are right back where we started. We feel out of control. Powerless.
It is the very definition of insanity:
This article is not written to offer 'tips' on how to fix this phenomenon; that would be akin to offing 'tips' on how to achieve world peace.
Instead, I bring awareness. I believe that being aware of a harmful behavior is the first step to stopping that behavior. And I want you to see it from my perspective-the Trainers perspective.
Too many people beat themselves up over the basics of what life throws at them, and it does not have to be that way. I have to go back to the concept of Exercise Debt I talked about a few weeks back.
It is impossible to move forward in your Health and Fitness journey if you are always looking back at what you've done. Move forward. Don't look back.
In the end, it's less about getting things 100% right than it is about continuing to pay attention. The only way you can possibly put yourself into Exercise Debt is to allow yourself to be in denial. If you continue to pay attention to your situations, your choices, and your mental state, you cannot fail. You simply CANNOT FAIL.