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7 Lessons To Learn From A Toddler In Order To Rebound From Injury

7 Lessons To Learn From A Toddler In Order To Rebound From Injury

The next time you are faced with a running injury and forced to hang up the shoes for a while, embrace it with the energy and enthusiasm of an 11-month old and enjoy the journey back.

This past spring, as I built mileage toward my first marathon which lay on the horizon, I aggravated my IT band, and was forced to reassess my overall fitness and health. I was now resigned to strength training, cross training, stretching and icing to rehab.

None of these activities are especially dear to me, which is probably what got me into the predicament in the first place. Although I initially found myself schlepping through the motions each day as if to knock out chores on a checklist, I soon joined forces with a competent training partner, my then 11-month old son, Deacon.

In no time at all, he provided some much needed insight on how to move forward after being dealt a setback. Below are the seven lessons best learned from someone who has never even walked before.

1. Back to the basics

Before we ever learned to run, we learned to walk. And how did we do it? By building up our strength and confidence one step at a time. Much is the same when we are dealt with an injury. We have to take a step back, determine our deficiencies, and improve those areas, one step at a time.

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Tip from Deacon: Don’t feel defeated if you have to use modified or assisting devices. Deacon preferred a four-wheeled lion to help him from Point A to Point B.

2. Have a short memory

As I watched my 11-month old son encounter minor setbacks, he became frustrated. But he had an equally effective counter – a short memory. As adults, and runners, we grow accustomed to walking and running long distances.

We suddenly have that ability taken away, and there is an accompanying psychological effect. It can be disappointing when we compare a 30 minute indoor strength training routine to a two hour, outdoor 10 mile run, that we may have done just a few weeks prior. Don’t fall victim to this mind game – stay in the moment.

Tip from Deacon: If you encounter a setback, distract yourself. Cheerios work well.

3. Get plenty of rest

As he transitioned to sitting up, crawling, pulling up, and walking with assistance, Deacon put in some much needed rest, sometimes up to 12 hours a night! Don’t get me wrong, when he is tired, he still fights the notion of going to bed.

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But is our situation as injured runners (and adults) much different? As we build back our strength, our bodies also need valuable rest. As adults, we too struggle against temptation to get that much needed rest almost daily due to things like work schedules, TV, and social engagements.

Tip from Deacon: Try to get in a routine that is similar each day as bedtime approaches, and have a cue for yourself that it is approaching. Like a bath with all of your favorite toys.

4. Cross training

He crawled, he planked, he did toddler modified burpees. If Deacon woke up every day and tried to stand and walk with no help or progression, he may never have met his goal of walking.

The point being, his approach to overall fitness helped build strength and agility that would allow him to meet his goal progressively, over time. The more varied your approach (cycling, walking, strength training, swimming, etc.), the better your overall fitness will be, and the lower your risk for injury.

Tip from Deacon: Incorporate as many different toys as possible.

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5. Have fun

Imagine how weird it would look if he woke up from his nap, changed himself into workout clothes, and struggled through sets and reps with a painful look on his face. Instead, he tackles his toddler-modified workout with a smile on his face, and has fun doing it.

Whatever the exercise of the day or moment might be, add a twist or competition to it to make it fun again (plank-off, anyone?).

Tip from Deacon: Add music to your workout, and when you feel like dancing, dance!

6. Keep your intensity

Just because you are sidelined with an injury does not mean you have to slog through the rehab assignment. Without risking further injury, look for ways to maintain the intensity of each workout.

Watch a toddler barrel through playtime. They take on a circuit mentality as they cycle through activities with minimal break time.

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Tip from Deacon: Spread your workouts apart. Rather than sit between your sets, crawl (or walk, or jog, depending on injury) to the next station or exercise.

7. Remember that everyone has a different timeline

Pick up any child development book and it will give you an age that the average child will begin to walk. But we all know they don’t wake up that day and start walking, as they all have their own unique timelines.

Injury rehab is no different. Google “IT band rehab” and you will similarly find advice for how long you should take off. Again, every runner will differ. Be patient, and know you may not be “average”.

Tip from Deacon: Celebrate the smaller milestones along the way.

Featured photo credit: Yoga/Elvert Barnes via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss

As you get started on a fitness journey, you’ve probably looked up the importance of a good exercise regimen, a healthy diet, and a more active lifestyle. What you probably haven’t heard much about is the importance of keeping a fitness journal to keep yourself on track.

Here is how to get started with a fitness journal and the benefits it will bring.

How to Start a Fitness Journal

Starting a fitness journal is simple and easy. You either buy a pre-organized fitness motivation journal or a blank notebook if you are interested in designing your own layout.

As you get started with your fitness journal, try to include the following.

Fitness Goals

Before you even begin to track your workouts, it’s important to clarify what your fitness goals[1] are and the deadline you plan to reach them by. Your goals can include changes in your diet, your exercise routine, or your weight.

Workout Statistics

Each time you do a daily workout, write down the date, day of the week, start/end times, the exercises you completed, and the reps of each. This can be altered depending on your specific workout. For example, if you’re a runner, you can write down your average speed while running, your peak heart rate, and your total distance traveled.

Body Metrics

In order to track your progress, you’ll need to know specific body measurements. You can include your weight, BMI, length measurements, and calories consumed each day. Then, go back and measure these at least once a month to see how close you are to achieving your fitness goals.

Diet and Sleep Info

Your eating and sleeping habits are just as important as your workouts when it comes to fitness. As an added element in your fitness planner, you can keep track of what you eat, your water intake, how long you sleep, and your sleep quality. This can help you identify patterns that can help you work out more effectively.

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Benefits of Keeping a Fitness Journal

1. The Key to Celebration

“Progress equals happiness.” -Tony Robbins

One of the most encouraging acts you can do in your life is to track your progress. If you’ve set goals, it’s absolutely crucial for you to know if you’re moving any closer.

As Tony Robbins, a top-notch motivational speaker and author, said: Progress is happiness. It’s one thing to crave progress and another thing to start measuring it. That’s when the workout journal comes in handy.

When you’re able to see just how far you’ve come by looking back in your fitness journal, you’ll feel more motivated to keep moving forward.

2. Better Guidance

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Imagine if a coach could analyze your whole progress, your weaknesses, and your strengths in less than 5 minutes.

If you have paid to be coached by a professional in the fitness industry, why not make his/her life and your progress easier? If your trainer knows where you’ve been struggling, and where you’ve been excelling, s/he will know how to guide you toward better results.

3. Reduce Reliance on Willpower

The last thing we all want is to put more stress on our plates. Why should we consciously note down our progress and add an extra task?

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A workout book can actually lessen the willpower that we need to get to the gym. The fitness journal takes the decision weight off our shoulders that is needed to start the task.

When you plan your workouts in advance through your journal, your mind will already have the habit embedded in your routine.

You can also check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination. This can help you learn to stop procrastinating and get to the gym when it’s time.

4. Helps You Face the Truth

A fitness journal will help you analyze what you’ve really been doing to achieve your fitness goals.

Some people think they simply have “bad genetics,” yet when they look at what they’ve really been doing through the fitness journal, they may see that their eating and exercise habits haven’t gone in the right direction. This can help eliminate excuses and get you moving on a better path.

5. Creates Accountability

By looking at our past achievements, we can set the goal to achieve more. A fitness journal can foster our ambition by keeping us accountable for what we did yesterday and what we plan to do tomorrow.

6. Recognize Patterns

Have you ever wondered why you feel a lack of motivation one day and then feel like exercising for two hours on another? A fitness journal can help you see patterns in your behaviors. In the end, what gets measured gets managed.

7. Experience Joy of Task Completion

You know that feeling when you cross off something on your to-do list? It’s possible to replicate that same feeling after going to the gym with your fitness journal.

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If we write down the results of our training, we get a dopamine rush. It makes us feel that we’re in control of our destiny.

8. Prevent Excuses

If you’ve noticed that you haven’t made any progress recently, look at your fitness journal. It’s most likely not your genetics.

If we write our progress down, we can see what works and what doesn’t, which can help prevent excuses.

9. Minimize Injuries

Do you feel a sting after doing shoulder exercises? Make a note in your fitness journal.

Before starting the next workout, go through the old workout and act accordingly. Often, injuries accumulate after multiple workout sessions. We can minimize the occurrence of injuries by writing it down in our journal and noting what isn’t working for our bodies.

10. Look and Feel Like a Pro

If you have a fitness journal to track your progress, you’ll feel more dedicated to your workouts overall. Looking and acting like a professional becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

11. Determine the Value of Your Time

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. -Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law also applies to your fitness results. If you don’t give your workout a maximum duration, you may not end up using your workout time wisely.

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Pre-determine the sets, reps, and exercises that you want to do beforehand to make the most of your time.

12. Focus on You

While I’m a huge believer in motivation through a competitive spirit and external factors, in the end, this journey is about becoming a better you—a healthier, faster, stronger and better person altogether.

The fitness journal can help you keep your focus on where it should be—on you. In the end, all the notes that you take are focused on your progress and your decisions.

Final Thoughts

The reason most people don’t have a fitness journal is that they assume it’s not worth it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are plenty of reasons to follow a fitness journal. From creating motivation, to helping you stay on track, to being a facilitator for personal growth, having a fitness journal is an absolute necessity if you’re serious about reaching your fitness goals.

In the end, having a fitness journal for goal setting can really make all the difference for your physical and mental health.

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Featured photo credit: dylan nolte via unsplash.com

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