Rolling With It

(Photo: Xinem)

"Ugh! Not a line for coffee! What?! What do you mean you're out of half-caf-double-latte-malted-mocha-chino?! You cannot be serious! Where's the manager?! Heads are going to roll!! I need my coffee!!!"

And so begins another day in the life of Schotsie Volvo and her pampered existence of ridiculously high expectations of everyone and everything. Why, this morning's coffee episode was almost as devastating as that nail she chipped last week. Schotsie doesn't handle bad news very well - not that this is all that serious, actually. It's disappointing, of course. Even frustrating. But it doesn't really fall into the "bad news" category. Schotsie doesn't really roll with the punches - she throws them. And if you've ever been in line behind a person like her you might start to wonder how Schotsie would handle actual bad news. And not just actual bad news but one bad thing after another. My guess is she'd fold up like a two dollar beach chair.

Life isn't fair and never easy and there eventually comes a time when you begin to recognize just how little control you have over some events that shape your life. You can't control the waves that knock you down, that's for sure. But can you learn how to ride them better? And how is it that some people can deal with pretty much everything that gets thrown at them while drama queens like Schotsie dissolve like vapor at the mere whiff of trouble? In keeping with the fitness and well-being cornerstone that Cranky Fitness and its corporate headquarters are built upon, read on for the secrets of resiliency.

Many in our fitness blog universe have traveled light years to get here from their home planet of Slackonia. They arrive with bright eyes and big plans and begin their journeys of bettering themselves through exercise and eating right. Everything goes great for a while until one little injury starts to monkey-pile onto another and before you know it, they've been knocked quite a ways off plan because of this unanticipated detour. Some have even had to deal with serious illness or traumatic events which have sidelined them. By the time they recover, their goals are looking pretty distant and they wonder if they have the strength to press on. What about that first 5K they were signed up for? And how will they ever get back to training for that marathon? It's New Year's already and they didn't lose the amount of weight that they thought they would have by now. They've already been through so much - wouldn't it just be easier to quit - even if it was a goal that was once important to them before life got in the way?

Resiliency - the ability to adapt to change or misfortune - can vary from person to person, as noted in this article. There is actually a genetic component to it which accounts for how some people handle great burdens with so much more grace and dignity than, oh say, me. Oh yes, yours truly admits to coming apart like a tissue in a washing machine on occasion - even though my tough-as-nails parents have weathered every storm with steely resolve. (Apparently, the resiliency gene may have skipped a generation in this case.) Ah, but there's good news: resiliency can be a learned behavior like so many other things in our lives. And what better way to lean than from others who have mastered the art of rolling with it.

There are common traits among resilient people that we can emulate in our efforts to learn about bouncing back better from adversity. Staying connected to people and reaching out during times of setback or crisis can create a shared burden effect. Blogging, for instance, is a great way to stay connected to people sharing the same goals and trials as you in this fitness journey.

It is vital to remain optimistic. This is classic "glass half full" thinking. Resilient people put a positive spin on things, believing that whatever crisis they've been handed is something that is hopefully temporary and solvable. Those of us with the recessive resiliency gene can un-learn our negative thought process by becoming more aware of our perceptions and re-thinking things in a more positive light.

Having a spiritual life is another component to bouncing back more easily than others. A study at Duke University shows that people dealing with a serious illness were better able to cope with the accompanying depression if they had strong religious beliefs.

Having a sense of play and experimentation helps us ride things out. Staying playful and curious and enjoying life in general is another key element to bouncing back.

Giving back to others is the ultimate in karma. Giving of yourself to others enhances that feeling of well-being and people who do it live longer, research shows.

Knowing how to pick your battles, as in the Serenity Prayer, is a big help. Changing the things you can control but not obsessing about the things you can't saves you the energy to steer you way through whatever situation you're trying to navigate.

Taking as good care of yourself as possible will keep you strong for the road ahead. If you've been sidelined with an injury, focus on eating well and exercising to the extent you can. If you can exercise, it actually produces a reaction in the brain that repairs stress-susceptible neurons.

And finally, resilient people know how to find the lesson in any given experience and use that knowledge in bettering themselves; sort of in the vein of "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

My personal point of view is that I need lots of help with becoming more resilient. I need to remind myself that whatever pit I have fallen into on any given day will not be the pit that I necessarily have to live in for the rest of my life. Looking forward, past the difficulties of the moment, has helped me greatly as in, "this too shall pass."

Are there any adversities you've had to overcome in reaching your fitness goals? And if so, what made the biggest difference to you in getting through it?

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