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Motivation Articles  ›  Picking Yourself Back Up

5 Things You Can Learn from Your Mistakes

Find Life Lessons When You're Less Than Perfect

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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While my story and what I learned is very personal and poignant for me, its lessons universal. Here are five takeaways from my experience that may also apply to you.

Take Time Off
All work and no play doesn't just make Jack a dull boy; it also makes us sad, unhappy and less productive individuals. In order for you to reach any goal, you need to take time to recharge those batteries and relax. That's why employers offer vacation days to their workers! Whether it's a night off from the gym to go see a movie with a friend, or a long, hot bath and the end of an even longer day, be sure to take at least 15 minutes each day to do something just for you. If you're the primary caregiver in your house, this may seem impossible, but it's true that you can't take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself, so block off some me time and have some fun! Also remember that even the most dedicated exercisers and athletes need to rest and recover, so build downtime into your workout plans if you hope to take your fitness to the next level.

Don't Force It
You can't force things to happen. No matter how much you want something or how hard you work to make it happen, sometimes you just have to wait it out. Whether it's your perfect job or those last 10 pounds, life is a process. Instead, try to trust that you're on the right path, and keep at it. Slowly but surely, you'll eventually get there. Don't work harder, work smarter—and figure out how you can get to your goal without risking your sanity or well-being. You know what's not productive? Burnout.

Respect Your Limits
I learned this lesson hard during and after my marathon training. Despite a nagging hip ache, I kept running and stuck to my training schedule. Then, for the entire marathon, I didn't just endure 26.2 miles, but 26.2 miles of pain that sidelined me for weeks after the race was over. I learned the hard way that listening to your body is so important. If you're really fatigued, take a day off. If you're sick and have no energy, rest. Pushing through physical pain, emotional pain, and fatigue is never a good idea. Listen closely to what your body is telling you, and treat it like you would your best friend. Be loving, kind and respectful.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have the opposite problem. I start to get sedentary and feel not motivated. But this article is still good to read. I have always beat myself up for not being perfect. I just need to set reasonable goals and be content what I have. :) - 5/28/2014 2:31:55 PM
  • WOW - I really needed to read this today.

    Great, great article.

    This is just one reason why I love Sparkpeople.

    Thank you so much!!! - 11/19/2013 11:04:51 AM
  • Great article! Thanks for sharing. - 11/15/2013 11:02:26 AM
  • I teach a self-esteem group at my job and I think this article is really generalizable to all aspects of human behavior. I am sharing it in group today :) - 10/8/2013 11:22:24 AM
  • I definitely learned "Respect Your Limits" the hard way. I was so determined to become a runner that I just dove in, without any preparation or information, and despite my body screaming at me that I was doing something wrong, I continued to run improperly, eventually giving myself terribly painful shinsplints. And then I made those shinsplints worse by trying to push through the pain, thinking it made me a badass. Uh, more like dumbass. I've always been stupidly stubborn, and that's a prime example. Now I take great pains to listen to my body, taking time off when needed even if it means it will take me longer to reach my goals. Better to reach them eventually than to injure myself trying to take the shortcut. - 7/15/2013 8:15:19 PM
  • Thank you for this great article! - 7/15/2013 4:56:15 PM
  • Thank you. Love this article. - 7/15/2013 12:50:14 PM
  • Thanks for sharing your experience so candidly. Last summer I experienced some of what you described, only it was related to the community garden I manage. The point you made that you have to rest and not always work through it, and that you can't force things really resonated with me. This growing season, I am applying what I learned from last year and am so much happier. And guess what - everything is growing better too! Feel like God gave me a groundhog day to try again and learn from my mistakes. Blessings and thanks, Melody - 7/15/2013 8:08:07 AM
  • I have learned, to live in the now, enjoy life and work on my life list as when you're about ot kick the"bucket" unlike the movie, it is already too late. I'm not one to say, "if I knew then, what I know now because, when I know and where I am now, is really, where I need to be, thanx be to God. I have learned, to accept the things I cannot change (other people) as if it is to be, it starts with me. It's all in attitude.........
    mine! Keep up the good work as you can take someone to the water, however you cannot make them drink! Thank you for your testimony! - 2/26/2013 1:51:07 AM
  • I am a bit type A, though not to the extent of this author. I am injured AGAIN. Between this article and Coach Nicole, I think I have decided to check out some strength training videos. I also think I'm going to see if just 10 minutes of walking a day aggravates the injury. 50 minutes sure does! - 2/9/2013 9:16:37 AM
  • WOW! I love your paragraph on "enjoy now". I keep waiting until I fit into that dress, or am able to jog a 5-k....Why wait!?!?

    I am making healthy steps every day and should enjoy the journey, not look anxiously toward when I am "perfect"

    Thank you! - 2/8/2013 9:11:33 AM
  • Jenn, Most of us can relate to your Ah Ha and fall into some or all of the traps. Weight loss is a huge thing... and being a perfectionist is a trap. We all must find our own rythmn of life... and its different for different people. And it changes as our own health changes. Listening to your body ... Realizing you are "good enough"... stop beating yourself up for being you...
    I am coming back from the dead... literally and my pace three years ago was almost "Stop". Now it is proceed slowly and listen to your body. I AM ... and this makes me feel very alive and happy as I see the progress. I want to finish the race... but I don't have to be the first. - 2/5/2013 7:54:16 PM
  • Great article. I'm so glad I read it. I've been in the dumps for awhile. My husband has been unemployed going on 4 months, the holiday season was not so great and my health has been up and down. I agree that we need to take time to enjoy ourselves even if it's just for a few hours. I plan to be more positive starting today.

    - 2/5/2013 7:41:36 AM
  • This is a great article -- I can relate to not knowing when to respect my own limits. Whether its exercising too hard, eating too little, or working too much, tuning into and listening to what my body actually needs helps every time. - 1/27/2013 11:29:18 PM
    Enjoyed this very much. I like a lot of people, am getting a few years under the belt along with health problems that comes with age. I know my limitations and try to keep that in mind. I am 70 yrs old and my long goal is to live to be 100. You have to have something to work towards. Knee, ankle and back keeps me aware of what I can do. I'm from North Carolina and right now we are going through some cold weather so I have to stay inside more than I want. But spring is just around the corner. Keep up the positive writing. It sure does help. - 1/27/2013 2:15:22 PM