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I was asked to write an article about fitness recently, and honestly, I've been in another world as of late. Reason? I moved. I don't know about you, but moving is one of the most traumatic events in my life. I just hate having to adjust, organize, get used too... I hate the confusion, lack of routine because nothing's the same no matter how hard I try to make it the same. I feel out of sorts, lonely, insecure. I admit that part of the reason for that this time around, is that I am alone but for my two teens. They're wonderful, but they're my children, not my companions.  

I also live in a town where I'm a virtual stranger—it's a small southern town and I'm from a big northern state. I don't feel like I really fit in, and I haven't made a lot of friends—lot's of acquaintances, but not true friends. I've probably felt more lonely in this move than any move previous. Worst of all, I feel a lot older. Yes, older. The last time I moved was only two years ago—it was a very, very hard move. I'd packed my kids and left my marriage of almost twenty years. But for some reason, this one was harder—definitely harder physically.  

I work out regularly. I'm a personal trainer—and I'm almost 50 years old. Two years is apparently enough to make a big difference at this age, because during this move, I felt aches and pains that I've never felt before in my life, and that had me a bit terrified. I spent one whole weekend incapacitated with ice on my hands—arthritis had taken my ability to function and the pain was unlike anything I'd experienced before. "Uh oh..." I thought, with grim alarm.  

There were also many things that went "wrong" during this move that I wasn't prepared to deal with alone. I wound up doing physical labor above and beyond what anyone should have to do in order to move into a rental—but I have kids—I couldn’t just back out and find another place overnight. So, I paid the price and now we're in. Worth it? Well, for my kids, of course it was.  

What does all this have to do with fitness, you might ask? Lets just say that this is a perfect example of how difficult a fitness schedule can be to maintain. Was I able to maintain mine during this time? No, not in the same fashion that I had previously, and to try to would have been complete insanity...which would only have added to the insanity I was already experiencing from the move itself. Fortunately, I've been at this whole "fitness/healthy lifestyle" thing long enough to know better than to beat myself up over it, and I knew enough to plan around the impending monsoon of unexpected issues. I knew that virtually any semblance of an eating plan or workout routine, would be something to be commended for under the circumstances.  

So how did I manage? Well, I planned to workout at least twice a week at an intense level, (a great deal less than I'm used to) barring any unforeseen injuries. I knew my food wouldn't/couldn’t be as healthy as I like it to be, due to the fact that my eating is pretty strict most of the time and I tend to cook most of my food. I did the best I could with making healthy fast food choices when I had to, and I drank tons of bottled water. I could feel the difference in just that much change—I was more tired and irritable—(I react strongly to processed foods), my stomach was “off” and I had more trouble sleeping.  

If I'd had a lot more help with the move, I'd have been able to maintain more of my routine, but like many of you, that is not my reality today. It was difficult to hear how I “should be managing it all and managing it well“—that "it can be done!!" from those who have the help of close friends and family, no children, or spouses to go along with the children they do have. I could easily have bought into the idea that I wasn't doing enough or doing it right. But for those of us with little to no support (which is a number that is rising at an alarming rate) this can be a real set up for failure, or at least perceived failure. And for many, that's the last thing needed—it becomes one more item on the long and growing list of "previous failures," thus, one more reason to give up.  

So what's my point? Well, I'll tell you. What I've noticed over the years, both as a mental health worker and fitness professional, is that for many of us there tends to be a rather large "chink in the armor of our characters" when it comes to health and fitness. And that it has everything to do with comparing ourselves to others and their "ability to do it all." This "chink" is responsible for an "all or nothing" kind of thinking about fitness and thus, sabotages our efforts.  

Let me explain: If, (during my recent move) I had decided that no matter what, I was going to maintain my normal fitness schedule and food plan, only to come up against the many difficulties that made that virtually impossible, I'd have been devastated. I'd have seen myself as a complete and utter failure, even though there were nights that I got only a few hours of sleep! After all, I've read plenty of articles and heard many stories about women who've done far more than me under worse circumstances, and managed to come out "smelling like a rose" in spite of it all. There I'd have it—the perfect excuse—the all or nothing thinking that would have had me convinced that because I couldn't "do it all" I was a complete failure. That, in turn, would throw me into despair and give me a reason to give up. How do I know this? Been there, done it... And I promise you, it's all in your head, honey...all of it.  

In my experience, both personally and professionally, "giving up" due to interruptions in routine, is a common theme for both woman and men when it comes to diet and fitness. And trust me, I'm well aware that for many of us, it's a bit like flipping a switch—it's "on" or it's "off" and never the twain shall meet, hmm? I know you get what I'm saying here. So you see, I understand that the hardest part about getting/staying fit, is maintaining a routine. I hear it all the time from my personal training clients. It can be almost anything that throws them off, but even the most committed fitness enthusiasts can have a really tough time with the situation I found myself in recently—my "awful" move. And what about situations more difficult than that? There are serious injuries, illnesses, losses to deal with...I'm sure you get my point.  

But...let me make another very important point here: Especially in these situations, when we're under tremendous stress, (regardless of how others perceive it) the perfectionism has to go—or it'll literally destroy us and our hard earned, (maybe fragile) self image. You see, I've learned that life is what happens when we're making other plans...'ey? So, we simply must be realistic about this fact. My life is different from your life, is different from his or her life, etc., but it's mine—mine alone. Am I worth health and fitness, regardless of how "hard" my life may seem at the moment? Is it possible to do it all, have it all, be happy? You bet it is, ain't gonna look like someone else's life, that I can promise you.  

So, you may wonder how I've managed over the last couple of years. Well, some might say with very little grace, but I can assure you, I've done the best that I can. And ya wanna know something else? That's all I ever needed to do. I've gained some weight and lost some weight, and done it again. I've worked out religiously only to find myself letting go of my routine for a few weeks at a time, when to do one more thing in a day would have put me in the hospital. But I've always come back to what I know is true in the end, and that's that taking care of me—of my health—is the most essential part in the equation of my happiness, regardless of outside circumstances—that no matter what else happens in my life, I simply cannot feel good unless I'm consistently eating right, working out, and sleeping enough. That even when "things" are great in my life, i.e., my kids are healthy and happy, I'm in love, money's flowing in easily—if I'm not sticking to that formula, I just don't feel good.  

Alas, when circumstances in my life prevent that kind of discipline, no matter how badly I want it, I keep my vision—without beating myself up—and this is key. I remind myself daily that this is temporary, that I will get back to my routine and to feeling better. I know this to be true because I've experienced it over and over in my life.  

Look, this is exactly what's meant by living a "Fitness Lifestyle". We, (meaning those of us living this lifestyle) keep the idea of fitness in our heads even when "things" temporarily slow us down. Understand one thing here if nothing else: You don't ever "get done" with fitness, so you will never put it behind you. Once you wrap your head around that one idea, it'll all make perfect sense. You need to realize that this "always striving" is a theme throughout your whole life—not just concerning fitness! It's like brushing and taking care of your teeth—you may get them fantastically healthy, but you then have to maintain them. And, (hopefully) should you wind up with an unexpected cavity, you wouldn’t decide to "forget it—there's no point in this uphill climb!" Ok, I may be oversimplifying here, but you get my point. All or nothing thinking around fitness, (among other areas of your life) is certain sabotage, so why do it when you know in your heart of hearts that you must establish healthy routines for a quality life?  

The thing is, fitness (just like the rest of life) doesn't occur in a straight line—it's frequently two steps forward and one step back—sometimes three or four steps back. But I'm here to tell you that one of the most fundamental concepts in making this work is in keeping fitness as your goal. Don't focus on what "is" if you're not where you want to be, focus on the vision. Find pictures in magazines, or pictures of you when you were feeling good about yourself and refer to them daily—always remembering that you'll get there. Start your day with meditation—see yourself making good food choices and working out, or doing the best you can do for that day depending on your circumstances, thus setting the day up for success. Visualize the way you want your life to be, and I promise you that even with temporary setbacks, you will get there.  

Do I believe this to be true for me and my current circumstances? With all of my heart and soul my friend—my life will be transformed, yet again. Why then, did these circumstances come about if my former vision and thinking were what I've described here? Because I believe that without contrast we'd have nothing to strive for, nothing to get the creative juices flowing, and we'd never ask others for help—we'd be nothing more than robots—isolated and alone. We need contrast, or challenge, to keep living life. But regardless of what I believe, these principles are based on sound psychological truths. Looking at your current way of processing your thoughts around fitness is bound to shed light on your perceived successes or failures. You'll see that a funny thing happens when you begin to "reframe" your life in a softer, more positive light—you'll begin to actually see your successes. And when that happens, watch out world, because a new star is born...


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