Destructive Coping vs. Productive Coping

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

On 11/29 I was pumping up my jogging pace and dreaming of a half marathon. I was workin' it and superconsistent for the next 3 weeks. Then my older dog died, Christmas commitments washed over me, visitors came & went, my younger dog was hit by a truck, and my father had spinal surgery... all while the upstate NY winter wind chilled my bones.

Oh pity party. ** NOT! **

The thing is, Life Happens. It's not all bad, but it requires real coping skills, doesn't it?

There's Destructive Coping: Sleep erratically, grab whatever's edible when you need it, do a half-a$$ed job on the things you need to do, and then "treat" yourself with sleeping in or eating gobs of chocolate & cream when you finally have a moment to yourself. None of this leaves energy or time for exercise, and there is no plan to make any, because the days Just Happen To You, as you fly by the seat of your pants.

Pretty soon 5 weeks have gone by and you don't remember what you were achieving before. Now that you're ready to "get back on track," you've got to claw your way through undone laundry, purge a stack of untended email you won't get to anyway, reassemble your workout plan, suffer through hamstring cramps when you finally get to run again; then reality-check those credit card bills, buy all new groceries, and find a way to tactfully tell those you've been doting on that you're rebooting your sanity. And you've got to make this shift without feeling selfish about it.

Then there's Productive Coping. I imagine that this includes taking your hour-long workout and simply trimming to a half-hour when time is tight (instead of skipping it altogether). It probably involves setting priorities and doing the important things well. It's sure to include using a ready list of healthy quick meals that you actually like. I'll bet there are even some requests to others for help with the laundry or driving. And of course it's full of forgiveness and humour.

When you're ready to return to prior routines, you gracefully and gratefully add a little more workout time. After all, you've got some energy to spare now. You catch up on a few tasks, with a quick but sincere thanks to those who've waited for you. You get together with the family members who helped you get through it, commisserate a little, laugh through a nice dinner together, and get a good night's sleep.

Any dream, notion, or plan of achieving a new level of fitness has got to include ways to succeed anyway when the going gets tough. Fitness does not happen in a vacuum! It happens amid Real Life. If you're gonna run, you've got to do it in the body you've got. (Thanks John Bingham.) If you're gonna achieve, you've got to do it from where you are right now.

Right now, I'm in bed with my laptop, looking at my November/December achievements and no longer thinking, "WTH happened?" I know what happened. And now it's time to do it differently. Not tomorrow, not "next time," but NOW.

Off to the treadmill, and to rock the day!
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