Resilience thinking and adapting exercise in the dark months

There are a couple of ways to look at what I did this morning.

One is that I started exercising.

Another is that I resumed exercising.

I’ve been reading a lot about resilience and reflecting on how it helps people adapt.  One way to test your resilience is through your view of  yourself, “Am I a ‘me, always, everything’ person or a “not me, not always, not everything’ person?”

I use to be, and sometimes still am, a “me, always, everything” person.  If I didn’t exercise the way I had imagined and sometimes achieved “exercise” in my world, then I had failed to be committed to fitness, I had failed every time I tried, and in fact I failed at the entire fitness model.  The result was I was scared to commit to getting fit again because I didn’t want to face the shame (I’m a bad person) when I inevitably didn’t exercise, proving yet again that I was a failure.

Now I see my taking action on fitness, or not, as “not me, not always, and not everything”.  There are specific circumstances that lead me to stop exercising.  Those circumstances are temporary, and I do continue to pursue physical activity that keeps me reasonably healthy until I resume the intense workouts I know my body likes.

Today, I started it up again, doing what I know will give me strength, flexibility, a sense of self-efficacy, better sleep and a good appetite.  I did a long walk, some serious lower and upper body work, and some good stretching.  And I’m going to ask for help.  I’m going to use my network of coaches, friends and family to help me talk through my high and low energy days, and keep me in action.  

And I’m going to keep adapting!  If some days on the journey I don’t bench press 80lbs, then it’s not a character flaw, it’s temporary (one day), local (circumstantial) and impersonal (I’m still a good person).  I can adjust for days when I haven’t had much sleep, or when work really is more important.  There will be days when it just makes a whole lot more sense to go tobogganing with the neighbour kids than to do lunges in my spare bedroom.  There will be days when we have to tramp through the woods and cut firewood because the ground is frozen and we will best be able to pull the logs out over the snow.  And there are firehall dances where Twist of Fate will keep me moving like a teenager for two hours.  Those are the temporary, local, impersonal triggers to exercise adaptation.  And they themselves are exercise.  I can adapt my “vision” of exercise to the goal I want to achieve – physical strength and endurance, healthy weight, and positive mood.

References: The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles

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