Just like our muscles atrophy when we don’t use them, our minds do too. This is the case even when we’ve done weeks, months, or even years of work to get where we are. We have to stay consistent or we regress.
Our muscles don’t care how hard we’ve worked or the hours we’ve logged in the past. Our muscles care about today. They care what we did this week, today. They care what we will do tomorrow.
That’s the focus. Be proud of what you have done, absolutely. Use that success and progress to support your mindset and keep you going. But don’t rely on it. Rely, instead, on your commitment to keep going.
Pull ups and chin ups have been a struggle for me for...forever. I’ve been able to do 0, 2 in a row, 6 in a row, back to 3 and everything in between. You’ll notice I didn’t end on 6. That was the maximum I reached but I’m not always there, just because I made it there at one point in time. Pull ups haven't been a focus for me over the past few months, and guess what? I’m back down to just 2 or 3.
It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. But it’s not surprising.
Because I haven’t focused on them. That’s how this stuff works. We get better at the things we practice. We get stronger at the things we exercise. When we stop practicing, we lose some of that strength or skill. Falling back is not failing though, unless you give up.
That last point goes for pull ups and squats...but it also goes for feeling confident in your skin, saying no to plans, places or people that bring you down, meditating, and more. It goes for advancing in our careers or pivoting to an entirely new one.
Falling back is not failing, unless you give up.
When we get back on the horse each time, we remember how to ride a little more quickly. The muscle memory might be faint, but it’s there.
The longer the time in between rides, the harder it is. So, the most important thing to do, is keep from spiraling. When you recognize that you are falling out of a routine, simply acknowledge it, recall what felt good last time you were doing it regularly, and take action to get back into it using that recall.
Small, slow and sustainable - but start immediately when you recognize it. The longer we hem and haw about when to start, the harder it is to actually do it.
So just take the step. And then keep walking, however fast or slow you need to.
So here’s what to remember:
Missing a workout is not a failure.
Having an indulgent meal at a restaurant or a whole indulgent weekend is not a failure.
Skipping your morning routine on vacation, on your period one day, or just on a tired Tuesday, is not a failure (unless you quit).
Feeling like you’ve fallen off all of those things and more for a few days or a week - or even longer - because you’ve been feeling down or because a life event threw you off…
IS. NOT. FAILURE.
These things are what life is. Some of them throw us into the pit and some of them are what help us stay out of it most of the time. Both are normal. Both are necessary. Both make life worth living.
We are not science projects or mathematical equations. We are human. As a species, we’ve created much more elevated levels of safety and security today, so that we can enjoy the rewards of this life. We can relax, we can have fun, we can do more than just exist and survive.
If we live by healthy guidelines most of the time, we allow ourselves the luxury to enjoy, relax, have fun, and do more than just survive.
But if all we do is self care, eat the cookies whenever we want them and rest whenever we feel like it (which for most humans, is most of the time), we are chipping away at that luxury. Because when we throw discipline, drive and effort out the window for the sake of only ever enjoying and being comfortable and relaxed...we are closer to chronic illness, disease, early morbidity, depression...the list goes on.
There is a balance, but to me that doesn’t mean 50/50. It means 80/20. I’ve heard it said that the fight is easy when the training is hard. Not my quote by a long shot - where I first heard that is escaping me, but whomever it was, makes a lot of sense.
And here’s what to do:
Put in the work, the effort, the discipline, the early wake ups, the tough workouts, the ‘don't feel like it’ home cooking most of the time.
And enjoy your life so deeply, live a long and vibrant one, and do so much more than just exist, because of it.