Staying motivated can be its own challenge.
In a perfect fitness world, we’d always be healthy and pain-free. No injuries would sideline us or prevent us from hitting our health and fitness goals. Motivation wouldn’t be much of a problem because it’s pretty easy to be motivated when all is going well. Unfortunately, most of us, me included, don’t live in a perfect world, and staying motivated when you’re hurt is tough.
If you’ve followed any of my story over the past 15 months, you know I began this journey toward health and fitness because I didn’t want injuries to sideline me for years ever again. My motivation to lose weight and get fit was really strong, and I knew that once I accomplished that goal, I would not go back. I would be the 1 in 4 that maintained a huge weight loss. My major challenge during the time it took me to lose 120 lbs was learning how to rest (that kicked my butt, and still does), so I was pretty lucky and my motivation stayed strong.
Over the past six months, I’ve had to face a lot of physical challenges. The knee I had hurt a few years started acting up, and the shoulder that has been fixed twice is causing me problems again. Pain filled days are more normal for me now than pain-free days, and staying positive and motivated is really tough…it’s so much easier to feel sorry for myself when I think about all the favorite exercise activities I just can’t do right now.
I never used to worry about pain or wallow in self-pity because I knew there were others living with constant pain. If they didn’t complain, how could I? My youngest brother, Bob, was a perfect example. He had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which frequently put him in a wheelchair and crippled his hands as well. He was a beast when it came to trivia and music, but couldn’t always understand basic concepts like money and socially appropriate behavior. But he always had a joke to tell, if he could stop laughing at himself long enough to tell it, and he never complained about the pain he lived with daily. I admired that so much and felt incredibly humbled by it as well. Because of the example he set, I didn’t complain about my temporary pain…I would just suck it up and move on.
Three years ago this week, everything changed.
I had to say good bye to Bob. His death was very sudden, very unexpected and life altering for me in many ways, not least of which is I lost my example of how to live with constant pain and move forward.
Staying motivated and positive through long term injury is so hard. On the third anniversary of Bob’s death, I miss him. I miss watching him face the challenges he had with humor, determination, and courage.I miss the perspective he gave me, and I’m disappointed in myself for the self-pity.
So that brings me back to feeling sorry for myself this past weekend. While trying to stretch and foam roll through the pain, I started wondering what could possibly keep me motivated and moving forward on my journey toward health and fitness despite continued injury. Not being able to participate in favorite exercises is taking a toll emotionally, intellectually and physically. Exercise motivates me and helps me be positive, but right now, the exercises I love most (power lifting, running, walking, boxing) are not physically possible and haven’t been for months.
So what is going to keep me motivated while hurt during this time? Three things…
Focusing on others instead of myself.
I can take what I’m going through and use it to become a better trainer and help others be successful on their journeys toward health and fitness.
Focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t.
I can also strive to become better, more expert, at things like stretching and foam rolling (SMR) and use that knowledge to help others prevent injury.
I’ve done this many times before, but I need a reminder. There are so many folks in this world who have it tougher than I do. Overall, I have been incredibly lucky, and it’s time to make my new mantra “suck it up buttercup”.
Whatever it takes, however long it takes, I’ll heal and I’ll keep moving forward. I’ll remind myself of the example Bob set, and I’ll suck it. I wish I could say I’ll never feel sorry for myself again, but we all have challenging days. Overcoming those challenges just makes us stronger.
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