Creative Life in Motion Blog


How to Handle Fitness Setbacks

fitness after 40 mindset movement podcast Jan 06, 2022
How to Handle Fitness Setbacks

What is the definition of a setback, anyway? And how can you manage yours? 

 As defined in the dictionary: A setback is an event that delays your progress or reverses some of the progress that you have made.

Step one is to realize that most setbacks are opportunities to step up.

It requires you to dig deeper, to get to know yourself more, and how your body works. To learn deeper how to love and work with your body instead of being at war with it.

A setback enables you to open your mind to a new route you may not have gone or unclog the drain of the past that needed to be discovered and released.

Setbacks are gifts in disguise. 

Consistency to your healthful lifestyle is on the other side of setbacks.

The second way to manage setbacks is to work with the setback at hand.

Some examples of setbacks are :


I had my very first injury 3 months before the New York marathon in 2018. This setback was stacked on top of a training setback. The skies had been filled with wildfire smoke. Way too much smoke to run long runs outside and breathe in the particulate. I overcame that by going to the gym and running for 2 hours on the treadmill.

It turns out that’s a really good way to blow a hip flexor, especially since I hadn’t treadmill run for years.

There was no way I was going to pull out of this event. Barry and I had invested a good amount of money and time to get there. It was a bucket list item. This wasn’t for weight loss; this was to go to NYC and come back with a medal and a cape. 

A real cape, with fluffy lining that you get to wear at the finish line. The cape is meant for warmth, but I see the cape with a glow of superpowers.

My goal of the marathon was to finish strong and proud, and I was going to do it!

I overcame my injury by going to see a physiotherapist for the first time in my life. I learned more about how to be kind to myself as I get older. Even though I was 45, I felt like my good health might keep me feeling 30 a lot longer. Muscular atrophy does not discriminate, but you can slow it down.

We came up with a training plan and a race plan that would get me crossing that finish line pain-free. And it worked.

In hindsight, I was already anemic at that time, which may have contributed to the injury. I don’t know for sure, though.

Death of a Loved one

Five months before the NYC marathon, my beloved dog Whiskey died. It gutted me.

My 11 year morning routine was shaken. My entire day and world were upside down, but I had the marathon that kept me running and eating relatively well. 

Grief is a stressor too. I should have lightened my training load to compensate for the grief, not stop altogether, just go easier on myself. Have you ever tried running and crying at the same time? It doesn’t work. You can’t breathe.

When my Dad died, I had to travel, and I made a plan to stay with my morning routine. I got up before everyone else so I could at least get a power walk in. I NEEDED it for my mental health. That meant resisting staying up late.

I didn’t worry about keeping my regular exercise and meal plan in; I just knew I needed something to help me stay strong for my mom. That helped me control my eating so that I didn’t feel gross.

If you feel gross, it’s REALLY hard to exercise. It feels better to digest stuff your body recognizes easily. 

Increase at work

I’ve fluctuated in my work hours over the years, and right now, I have a more flexible schedule than I’ve ever had, but I’d argue that it's harder. Working outside the home gave me less time to be wasteful with.

It’s systems that make anything doable throughout any fluctuations. Once you have the systems in place, you are golden. Then all you need to do is insert a time block for self-care.

A system is a stack of things you do in order or a plan you follow. When work is busy for me, it’s at-home workouts and walking the dog.

In more leisurely times, you might want to join a class, or you might want a blend of the two. 

You are also in charge of what you are going to put in your mouth, so a simple sketch of meal planning and grocery shopping once a week is critical to your success! Bonus if you add a little bit of prep in there.

Change in childcare

It’s an opportunity to visit your schedule and figure out a morning or evening routine that works for you most of the time.

When I had no child care, I was in the 5 am club, working out in the basement before the house was awake. I’d sleep in my workout clothes, do my workout, then take the dog for a run or walk all before 7. It worked for all of us for that season of life. It meant I stopped staying up late watching the news.

Accountability buddy quits on you, or the gym closes. 

I don’t believe in accountability buddies because if something goes wrong in their routine, they take you down with them. However, in my days as a Group Fitness instructor, I noticed participants would keep each other accountable AFTER they met. They had already found the type of workout and atmosphere that kept them consistent. 

Protect yourself from this with a “what happens if my accountability buddy quits or my gym closes” plan before it happens. Empower yourself. Fall in love with YOUR OWN process and routine.

Weight gain 

I believe this will happen. Empower yourself with knowledge about this beautiful envelope of your soul you are in. WE are made up of so many moving parts and cells that continue to thrive on good energy. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your plants when you water them. Nurture yourself, and dive deep into self-study.

You are the same person inside 20lbs heavier or lighter. Read that Again.

The management from all angles is this. You have to be your own accountability buddy. Get out your journal and daily planner. You need to feel where you are, process, but don’t stay down for long. Don’t ever quit.

Understand your needs for the season you are in and reframe the word “setback” to “step over”- Once you navigate through a setback without quitting everything, including mindset, you’ve conquered what many can’t. Be prepared for anything by diving deep into self-awareness and creating your systems and habits.

Self-sabotage and imposter syndrome may be the biggest setback one bumps up against which is why I devoted two chapters in my book to it.

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