Wednesday 27 May 2020

How To Cope With Plateaus During COVID-19?

Have you hit a plateau? Do you lack motivation? Are you eating out of boredom? Guess what? You’re not alone but that doesn’t mean you can’t change that. How? Recall what you did pre-pandemic. What did you do to overcome a plateau or get motivated? Much of the time it helps to be accountable to someone. This could include connecting with a coach online, a friend, someone in your household but basically you’re looking for an accountability partner.

Do you ever feel like your goals/intentions are crashing? When my computer crashes, I do a reboot and similarly when we feel like we’re crashing we need to reboot, specifically reboot our mind. We do this by changing things up, i.e., if you’ve set goals and haven’t been able to follow them, change the goal and make it smaller, more attainable. For example, if you haven’t worked out or even walked due to a lack of energy and/or motivation, mentally gear yourself up to do a 4 minute tabata, which consists of 20 seconds of ‘work’, i.e., burpees followed by 10 seconds of marching in place. Repeat that for a total of 4 minutes and remember to stretch afterwards. This doesn’t seem as daunting because it’s only 4 minutes and you don’t need any equipment as the ‘work’ is based on high intensity body exercises. Another example could be slowly increasing your daily water intake. One small achievement can lead to more achievements which can increase your motivation.

They say positivity breeds positivity so if you’re feeling down, surround yourself with positive, motivating people. This can be following someone you respect through their podcasts, posts, and the like. We are not too old to learn; it’s more a matter of if we’re willing to try something new. Often, we feel ‘stuck’ as we keep repeating what we have been doing expecting a different result; yes that’s the definition of insanity. Even at home, we have social media to selectively choose positive individuals or even groups, i.e., Facebook, to read their experiences and how they actioned solutions for their struggles. We are not islands. We are on a planet called Earth so feel free to seek out positive fellow human beings for inspiration.

As humans, we are social creatures. Not all the time mind you but we value interactions and without the social interactions given COVID-19, this is a missing piece to our well being. A temporary solution is to reach out to others on a regular basis, i.e., to check on them and to have some form of connection with people outside of your home. For people outside of our home, this could be through calling them, text, email, social media chats, videoconferencing, and so on. If you are not alone at home, it can be irritating to be together all the time but try a bit harder to be thoughtful and patient. This is a trying time for most people if not everyone to some degree. Nerves will fray which is to be expected given the circumstances. Keep in mind the bigger picture: we are not alone.

In coping with plateaus, consider getting an accountability partner, reboot with smaller goals, surround yourself / connect with positive people, reach out and connect with others, adjust your expectations of those living in your household, and be kind whenever you can.

Thursday 21 May 2020

On Your Mark, Get Ready …

Are you ready to go when we get the green light to return to a gym and/or your competition date has been confirmed or rescheduled to later this year? If not, no worries; let’s strategize!

Circumstances are far from being perfect but you don’t need to be perfect or to have ideal circumstances to get your game on. To be physically ready for a show requires planning but so does mental planning. If mentally you’re sitting back waiting for things to be clear, i.e., a show date confirmed, you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage. If that’s you, you have the power to change that by changing what you’re doing right now. If you just ate something unhealthy, mentally prepare yourself to eat clean for a full day tomorrow. Plan what you’re going to eat and even prep some of that food. Then repeat that. No motivation to train? This is the perfect time to learn how to train when unmotivated. I tell people it’s like cleaning a toilet. I don’t know many people particularly happy and motivated to clean a toilet but you just do it. Mental training isn’t training when you feel like it; it’s training when you don’t feel like it. So you may ask, how does one train despite feeling unmotivated? Great question. The hardest part is getting started so commit to training a certain body part or do some cardio for 10 minutes. Once you complete the 10 minutes, you’re done! But if you want to continue, then go for it! Does even that sound too difficult? Try a 4 minute tabata, which consists of 20 seconds of a high intensity exercise, i.e., burpees, 10 seconds of walking in place and then repeat that for a total of 4 minutes. Remember to stretch afterwards. By restarting your training and healthier eating routines, you’re making a mental shift to commit to doing more consistent work. That’s a great start!

I would encourage you to take that next step by setting short term goals every week and re-assessing how that process was at the end of the week. Do you need to adjust your goals? Do you need to set a new goal? Remember to follow the SMART principle for setting goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Above all, make it simple! When you achieve your goal, you feel a sense of accomplishment. That in turn provides encouragement and will help you rediscover some motivation as well as self-esteem.

It’s not about being perfect; it’s about doing your best given the circumstances at hand. COVID-19 is NOT normal but it’s also not an excuse to give up on yourself. Use this as an opportunity to be creative and work on your self-care and re-establish your goals.

Do you feel like giving up sometimes? Welcome to the club called humanity! We fall, we make mistakes, we make unhealthy choices; that’s human. Falling is human but uniqueness and strength is getting back up. Be stubborn and not let anything keep you down.

The past is the past. What are you going to do now? The choice is yours. Embrace that choice and commit to action!

Friday 15 May 2020

How to Adjust Goals During a Disrupted Competitive Season

By Lesley Timbol (Adapted from Dr. Patrick Cohn at Peak Performance Sports, LLC.)

Goals are targets that provide you a sense of purpose and direction. They keep you focused, motivated and energized to achieve a personal objective while overcoming obstacles along the way... the key phrase is 'overcoming obstacles'. Obstacles can be big or small, physical or mental, probable or unexpected.

The coronavirus is a big, unexpected obstacle that challenges bodybuilders both mentally and physically. When you experience an obstacle, you may feel like you failed or that your goal is no longer attainable. You feel all your hopes and hard work went down the drain and think, "How will I earn my Pro card?" or “How will I qualify for the Olympia?” or “How can I even prep for a show when the gyms are closed?” These obstacles can leave you feeling anxious, frustrated, discouraged, demoralized and disappointed.

Did you set meaningful goals for this season only to have it cut short? You planned which shows you were going to compete in and already started your prep. Then COVID-19 happened. Gyms closed. Shows are cancelled or postponed. Now what?

When you are faced with an extended time away from your gym and sport, it may feel like your goals are in jeopardy. It’s important to understand that goal setting is always in flux depending on your current performance and situation. Instead of completely giving up on your goals, you should adjust your goals to meet the demands of your current circumstances or adjust for your next season.
When you adjust your goals, you feel you still have something to work towards. When you adjust your goals, you will still feel your actions, practice and hard work matter. You can work towards that goal by training in your basement or backyard.

The disruptions caused by a global pandemic or some other obstacles are merely bumps in the road. Achieving your goal is a matter of creative adjustment.

Adjust Goals When the Season is Disrupted: 

Goals are always in flux and adjustable.  They are not expectations you must accomplish! You must modify goals based on your current performance, or in today's world, the current circumstances.
During these challenging times, what adjustments can you make to stay on track to accomplish your goals this summer or fall?

Goal setting is about working on building muscle using a variety of techniques, i.e., rest pauses with lighter weights, flexibility (remember to stretch, roll), and the mind muscle connection. And don’t forget about working on your mental game. Think about what you DO have and be creative!
Revise current goals or set new goals to improve your physique. This can give you a sense of purpose and keep you energized despite obstacles.

Monday 11 May 2020

How To Deal with Death During COVID-19

Grieving is hard enough but is particularly difficult during this pandemic. Normally we can gather around and pay our respects, provide and receive support in the form of face to face chatter, hugs and the like but not now.

Feelings are especially mixed because we don’t have the normal channels to express them but you have a right to feel whatever you’re feeling at the moment. Please keep in mind that one person’s experience and how they cope with the loss may be different than your way so try to avoid making judgements.

There are 7 emotional stages of grief: shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining (making a deal/promise to God/higher power in return for relief from the grief/pain), guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance. It is common to go back and forth from these various stages. Often people feel guilty, i.e., not connecting with the deceased sooner, having left things unsaid, not preventing something from happening i.e., if the deceased committed suicide. It is important to realize that there are some things out of your control. You do not control another person’s actions.

The loss can make you feel empty, like the world has changed and you don’t know how to go on. You may question if it would be disrespectful to the deceased if you did carry on with your life, if you happened to laugh at a joke or have fun with friends or family. Having worked with palliative care patients and clients who wanted to commit suicide, all of them wanted their family and friends to be happy and live their lives. It is appropriate to celebrate the meaning the deceased brought into your life but to stop your life for them is a disservice to their memory.

You may want to try to get back to ‘normal’ but you have memories of the deceased, i.e., little things will trigger you to remember them. You may even pick up the phone to call them only to realize no one will answer. This is part of the adjustment process and will take time. It’s okay to be sad and miss this person like crazy.

During COVID-19, social media can be used to celebrate the deceased person’s life, i.e., pay tribute by sharing stories. That camaraderie provides emotional support, which is important for everyone’s healing process.

Please remember to take care of you. Your health can suffer if you neglect it and that will only make things worse for you and those around you. And if you need to talk to someone, contact a professional like myself. That’s what we are here for.

Grieve, honour their memory with a dedication of some kind, and choose to continue moving forward. That’s what they would have wanted so let’s respect that.