Motivation Monday ~ Learning to be Adaptable

This past week had to be one of my more stressful work weeks. Everything I was working on was “hot.” In other words, it needed to be done, and done yesterday. Mind you, it’s stressful enough when you have one of these hot items to get done, but it is utterly hectic when you have multiple to compete for your time, attention, and sanity. Everything had to be a top priority — and I was feeling the pressure from it bottle up inside me as I tried to keep up.

Until one day, it didn’t stay all that bottled up. My poor boyfriend can attest to this as he had the privilege of sitting through more than one (which is my nice way of saying MANY) of my emotion filled tirades. He graciously allowed me to work through my frustration and almost annoyingly so, tried to cheer me up and make me feel better.

You know how when you are upset about something, you don’t want anyone to make you feel better about it because you’d rather stew in your negativity and general disdain for the world around you until you are good and ready to get over it?

Orrrrrrrrrr is that just me?

In times of high stress and pressure, I often neglect to take care of myself in the way I would under normal circumstances.  I either tend to not eat at all during the day and then gorge in the evening, I blow off workouts because I’m working late or am just in a crappy mood, I don’t sleep well etc. etc.  Worst of all, I sit and stew in my frustrations so they affect me for days to come even after the initial stress has passed.

Fortunately for me, my boyfriend persisted and didn’t allow me to remain in my melodrama, and once the tension and frustration diffused, I was able to go about the day without letting the stress get to me too much. Though I was working late, I still went down to the gym even if it was just a quick workout. I *mostly* still followed a healthful diet, and I still went to bed with a full night of sleep.

Needless to say, the outcome of the situation could have gone in either direction. So what was it that pushed me towards the more healthful option? For me, even though it required some assistance from another person, it was adaptability.

A key difference between those that meet their health and fitness goals and those who are caught in the endless cycle of starting and stopping, is the ability to be adaptable. What I mean by this is the ability to adapt or absorb the circumstances around you that threaten to dictate your attitude and your actions. If that doesn’t make too much sense to you just yet, stick with me, it will become more clear a little bit further on in this post.

If you’re uncertain of how to assess your current level of adaptability, take a look at the list below. I’ve included some of the hallmark principles that indicate adaptability as well as some of the practical ways that adaptability plays out in terms of health and fitness.

Characteristics of the Adaptable Individual:

1. Controlled Responses. You control your response to circumstances outside of your control rather than being at the mercy of them. Instead of letting a negative situation allow you to become negative, you choose your response to stay positive. This is key because when you have a negative mindset it has a tendency to negatively effect your actions thereafter.

In my example, I could have very easily stayed in a negative state and allowed it to affect my actions throughout the day. If I had stayed upset, I most likely would have gone on to blow off my workout and instead gone home to lay on the couch. When you choose and control your response to stressful and negative situations, you are better able to stick with your original healthy intentions.

2. Have a way to healthily manage their frustrations and negative emotions. Adaptable individuals know how to process negative emotions in a positive way. That is not to say they don’t experience negative emotions or that life doesn’t get to them, rather, they are able to deal with them in a healthy manner. Healthy processing of emotion can be both mentally oriented and action oriented. Mental coping could mean taking some time to vent or reach out for social support or allowing yourself to recognize and validate that you are feeling negative so that you can move on from it. Action oriented coping could mean taking that stress and channeling it into another outlet – like a kick-ass workout, or it could mean breaking down the stressor into actionable steps that will allow you to alleviate the stressor.

3. Anticipate setbacks as much as possible. Finally, adaptable individuals are able to anticipate possible setbacks and stressful situations as much as possible and are prepared with contingency plans. If they anticipate a hectic day, they do their workout early in the morning. They meal prep and always have health snacks on hand so they don’t reach for the junk food out of stress and frustration. They also make the most of the time they have. If that means they only have time for a twenty minute workout, they not only do the workout, but they squeeze as much in as they can in that 20 minutes.

Which of these things do you need to work on to become more adaptable and succeed in reaching your goals? Refuse to be at the mercy of your circumstances. Control your responses, adapt as needed, and strive forward to reach your goals.

Get Fit For it, Beth

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