The Mental Side: How to stay tough and focused

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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Helen Keller

I have been teaching a 5AM Boot Camp class for over eight years and trust me it feels much longer than that. I have had my share of injuries and life lessons that have set me back. We can all empathize. You need to listen to your body. This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned because saying to me, “You need to take a few days off,” is like a death sentence. In July of 2011 I had to take more than a few days off. It was weeks, which turned into two months. I was having surgery and my physician said that I would have a harder time recovering because I was in such good shape. I never heard of such a thing and mentally prepared myself to take at the most two weeks off. Long story short, I had a very long recovery time, pushing myself at times while my body was saying slow down. Some days I would feel really strong while on others I could hardly get out of bed. This is when the tough get going. Baby steps I told myself.

Since my surgery, I have grown in regards to my strength, endurance and technique. I have relentlessly worked my butt off and have become a force to reckon with, at least by some people. I have my little injuries here and there. Most of the time no one knows if I am in pain or not, but I do. It’s good to show your vulnerability sometimes. I am not some “superwoman” although others may think I am.

I have a very strong work ethic of which I credit my parents for instilling in me. I am known for this in my family and among my peers. I am the one to depend on when things get tough but who do I depend upon? The pressure to be consistent and reliable is overwhelming at times. I am extremely passionate and I love what I do. That is a given. The question that I have trouble with is what happens when the leader herself has an injury or there are things going on in one’s life that seem to derail even the most determined of us. I keep telling myself nothing is wrong, denial as they call it. I have dealt with numerous injuries over the years, “No big deal.” I try to ignore it and push through the pain. Yes later on when my hand or other body part is throbbing, I start to realize that perhaps I was a bit foolish to force it and now things are even worse.

Even though the physical hurt that I am experiencing is only a small portion of the overall pain, the psychological pain is much worse. My road to recovery will be longer if I do not address the mental pain as well. ”This is who I am.” Since teaching Boot Camp defines me, it’s how I see myself and how others see me. It also provides me with a major source of self-confidence and self-esteem. Having a great class feels fantastic and seeing others improving their fitness levels and reaching their goals is what it’s all about. Teaching also provides me with a constructive way to deal with stress. Yes, I do enjoy yelling and pushing everyone beyond their physical limits, i.e. “the comfort zone.”

Keep in mind that everyone is different and you have to learn how to manage and cope with your own specific injury. Although you may be out for a while as you heal, mentally you will need to stay focused on your short-term and long-term goals. You may be sad. This is an important part of the healing process. If you can’t run or jump for the next four weeks, modify and do what you can. It will keep you mentally strong and let the other part of your body heal. Your goals may change and you need to be realistic. Always maintain a positive attitude no matter what. Attitude is everything and I say this everyday. Last but not least be patient. This is probably the hardest of all. Sometimes the fastest way to come back is to take it slow.

We are all champions to some degree or another. Running your very first 5K, taking Boot Camp class for the first time, walking two miles, or completing a full marathon. The key is to stay strong under pressure. Believe in yourself, stay motivated, and have winning self-confidence. We have to learn to relax and have the ability to focus on what is important, not an easy feat by any means. Now staying relaxed doesn’t mean you aren’t going to feel those butterflies in your stomach. You have to be a little excited in order for you to do your best. There is a light at the end of the tunnel in every situation good or bad. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I love that song.

I will always be here to support you during your journey, good or bad. Life is open to many more possibilities to those who embrace it, those who are willing to fail, and for those who believe in themselves. Injuries or not, it’s just another life lesson for many including myself to keep on going.

Keep on moving forward..

Susan

First and foremost I am a mother of 3 children and have been married for almost 20 yrs. I am a motivator, entrepreneur, fitness enthusiast, loves challenges, and loves seeing the rewards individuals receive living a healthy lifestyle. CEO and Founder of FitZinga – Get Your Zing On! Engaging tools and solutions to keep you on track to reach your fitnes goals.

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