Conquering the 5 Mental Stages of Preparing for a Challenge

Conquering the 5 Mental Stages of Preparing for a Challenge

Have you been toying with the idea of taking on an adventurous experience or challenging goal?

Maybe it’s that dream trip to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Or a “milestone birthday” goal to run a half marathon. Or a post-pandemic group cycling tour of Tuscany.

You’re excited about it, yet there’s a hint of hesitation.

Here’s how it usually goes for me. I see or hear about an interesting event or experience that includes a physical challenge that I’m not currently ready to do, but seems like I could if I focused on training for it. I get excited and sign up.

Then I figure out what I’ll need to do to get ready. I plan out how to increase my activity over the course of the weeks or months leading up to the event.

That’s the logical part. Then comes the mental part. I usually spend at least some time in these phases:

  • Hopeful and Enthusiastic
  • Wondering What Was I Thinking
  • Encouraged by Progress
  • Guilty and Selfish
  • Excited and Confident

The order varies and sometimes I go back and forth between phases multiple times. Here are some strategies for how to leverage the “good” phases and get additional support during the rough ones.

Hopeful and Enthusiastic

This is usually the first phase, right as I’m signing up for the event or experience. It sounds fun, I feel like I have enough time to get ready, and my ego is saying it’s a good idea to push myself a bit. The world is my oyster and I’m ready to dive in.

And this is why there are so many events and experiences marketed to us! The photos of happy people completing the event and sharing testimonials signal to us that we’re ultimately going to be rewarded with happiness, a sense of accomplishment, approval from others, or other desirable emotions.

So we decide to go for it. We tell family and friends, and they start cheering us on.

Wondering What I Was Thinking

Sometimes this hits me early, as I’m just starting to prepare, and sometimes closer to the event. Or multiple times!

Suddenly what I am supposed to do seems ridiculous and not achievable. My confidence goes in the toilet. I’m embarrassed that I ever thought I should sign up for it. I’m afraid I’ll make a fool of myself. Imposter syndrome takes over my brain.

That’s when it’s time to bring in reinforcements. For me, that means reaching out to people who love and support me and believe in me. The ones who will remind me of what I’ve done in the past, reassure me that I’m doing what I should, and tell me it will all work out just fine.

For others, turning around the negativity may involve journaling, listening to an inspiring podcast, or meditating.

The sooner you can pull out of this, the better. If one technique doesn’t work, try another.

Sometimes this hits me early, as I’m just starting to prepare, and sometimes closer to the event. Or multiple times!

Suddenly what I am supposed to do seems ridiculous and not achievable. My confidence goes in the toilet. I’m embarrassed that I ever thought I should sign up for it. I’m afraid I’ll make a fool of myself. Imposter syndrome takes over my brain.

That’s when it’s time to bring in reinforcements. For me, that means reaching out to people who love and support me and believe in me. The ones who will remind me of what I’ve done in the past, reassure me that I’m doing what I should, and tell me it will all work out just fine.

For others, turning around the negativity may involve journaling, listening to an inspiring podcast, or meditating.

The sooner you can pull out of this, the better. If one technique doesn’t work, try another.

Encouraged by Progress

As I make progress on my plan, I usually start to gain confidence. The incremental steps add up, and I feel stronger and more capable.

During this phase, it’s helpful to look back to your starting point and recognize how far you’ve come. It can seem like you’re barely moving forward until you reflect on where you were before.

If you are the type of person who likes to visually see progress, create or buy something where you can track what you’ve done to keep up the momentum.

Guilty and Selfish

Preparing for a challenging event or experience takes time. Chances are you had a pretty full calendar before deciding to do this, so something will have to give.

My husband doesn’t usually sign up for the types of challenges I like to take on. He’s very supportive, though. Yet I still feel guilty and selfish about taking hours to prepare for “my thing.”

My heart goes out to those who have kids or other people who depend on them. I can only imagine how much more guilt shows up in light of those responsibilities.

Consider how you can reframe what you’re doing (or want to be doing), because there are always several ways to perceive a situation.

You’re investing time in improving yourself, physically and mentally. As one of my clients told me, “when I invest in myself, I can show up as a better person for those I love.”

You’re modeling the importance and benefits of taking care of yourself.

You’re giving others the opportunity to figure out ways to take care of themselves. You might be pleasantly surprised by how well your family does when they need to handle things in your absence. And that doesn’t mean you’re not needed – in fact, they’ll probably appreciate you even more!      

Realizing these alternatives may not banish the guilt entirely, though hopefully enough to get you back on track.

Preparing for a challenging event or experience takes time. Chances are you had a pretty full calendar before deciding to do this, so something will have to give.

My husband doesn’t usually sign up for the types of challenges I like to take on. He’s very supportive, though. Yet I still feel guilty and selfish about taking hours to prepare for “my thing.”

My heart goes out to those who have kids or other people who depend on them. I can only imagine how much more guilt shows up in light of those responsibilities.

Consider how you can reframe what you’re doing (or want to be doing), because there are always several ways to perceive a situation.

You’re investing time in improving yourself, physically and mentally. As one of my clients told me, “when I invest in myself, I can show up as a better person for those I love.”

You’re modeling the importance and benefits of taking care of yourself.

You’re giving others the opportunity to figure out ways to take care of themselves. You might be pleasantly surprised by how well your family does when they need to handle things in your absence. And that doesn’t mean you’re not needed – in fact, they’ll probably appreciate you even more!      

Realizing these alternatives may not banish the guilt entirely, though hopefully enough to get you back on track.

Excited and Confident

These are the days when everything is going well – you’re in “the zone,” you’ve got this, and you can’t wait for the event or experience. With any luck, you’ll be in this phase as it happens! After all, that was part of the original draw to do this, right?

Take advantage of this phase whenever it comes around! Create something to remind yourself of the feeling. Take a photo, write in your journal or draw something that you can use as a touchstone during the tough times, either during this experience or for your next challenge.

Moving Through the Phases

As you move through the phases, give yourself grace. These and other emotions offer opportunities for learning and growth. They aren’t right or wrong – they’re just a part of the process.

Recognizing them gives you the power to decide how to react.

So buckle up and make the most of the ride!

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

5 Focus Areas for a Post-injury Hiking Trip

5 Focus Areas for a Post-injury Hiking Trip

Hiking after injury

An epic hiking trip has been on your “bucket list” for years – the Swiss Alps, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a Colorado 14er. Then it happened. An injury that stopped you in your tracks.

Whether it was a torn ACL, a sprained ankle, or a shoulder injury, suddenly your dream hike seems much farther off. Yet you’re not getting any younger.

So how do you come back from an injury, and still make the most of your dream trip?

Having a specific goal – in fact, envisioning specifically what you want to do, also known as mental imagery – can help your recovery

The key is to set up a training plan as far in advance as possible.

Whether your injury or surgery was recent or a while back, these five components are key to preparing for a post-injury hiking trip:

  1. Your team
  2. Your mindset
  3. Your strength
  4. Your stamina
  5. Your footwear and gear

Tap into your team

Most health care plans include a limited number of covered physical and/or occupational therapy visits after certain injuries and surgeries. Yet once you’re done with covered visits, you’ll probably have more work to do on your own, especially to reach a goal that’s beyond normal daily functioning.

So keep the lists and illustrations of the exercises your therapists gave you. If they didn’t tell you which ones would be beneficial to continue, ask for recommendations.

If you’re unsure of what to do for your upcoming hike, go back to the physical therapist you worked with post-injury (if you had one), even if you have to pay for an extra visit. It’ll be worth it to have expert guidance from someone who understands your capabilities and how you’ve handled the recovery process.

Consider working with a certified personal trainer to get ongoing customized guidance based on your situation. A personal trainer will help you use the proper form when you exercise.

After an injury, you may have a tendency to compensate for the body part that was injured, which can put extra strain on your “good” knee/hip/shoulder/etc. And that can lead to cascading injuries in the future.

Working with a personal trainer can help you make sure you are doing exercises correctly, and with an appropriate amount of weight or resistance.

Ask for referrals – your physical therapist or doctors involved in treating your injury may be able to offer some options – and references. How much experience do they have with working with people who have had injuries? Do they have specific training in functional fitness?

Check out these tips for choosing a personal trainer. 

Mindset matters

Many people find that the mental recovery from an injury is nearly as difficult as the physical recovery. Between the time on the sidelines and the slower-than-hoped progress back to “normal,” even the most patient patients get frustrated.

Once you’re officially done with physical therapy, it can be tempting to go back to your pre-injury activity level. Resist that urge and ease back in slowly.

Be kind to yourself when it comes to getting back to the shape you were in before the injury. Put it in perspective – how long did it take you to get to the level you were at pre-injury? Probably years.

So give yourself a break when you’re starting to rebuild. Besides, nobody is as young as they used to be, so that makes the process a bit longer too.

Rebuild your strength

Assuming you completed physical and occupational therapy, you should have a decent foundation of strength to build on. Yet PT and OT are primarily focused on getting your strength, range of motion and physical abilities to the point where you can perform normal daily tasks.

As you look forward to taking a hiking trip, you may need to build additional strength in the previously injured area. Other parts of your body may need some attention too, especially if you put all of your energy into the recovering limb or joint!

Your physical therapist or personal trainer may suggest body weight exercises to start. These exercises will help you get in tune with how movements feel before adding weight/resistance.

The next step may be adding dumb bells and other weights that are used by one muscle group at a time. These are useful for figuring out which body part(s) are stronger or weaker than others. Plus you can use less weight on one side for a while to allow the weaker muscle group to build up to more closely align with the other side.

For example, if you had a shoulder injury, you may use a lighter weight for the side that had the injury to start. As the injured side gets stronger, you can add more weight while keeping the “good side” at the same weight.

If you use a barbell or certain types of machines, your natural tendency is for the stronger side to “help” the weaker side, which maintains the imbalance.

Resistance bands are also popular for post-injury training. For many exercises using bands, it’s quick and easy to adjust the resistance by shifting your stance or range of motion.

If you’re not working with a personal trainer, add activity and weight/resistance for the recovering area in smaller increments than you may see recommended in online articles and other resources.

Be patient and remember that small increases add up over time and will allow you to make stronger and more sustainable progress than doing too much too soon. Improving by 1% every day adds up over time.

Of course, if a move causes sharp pain, STOP. Pay attention to your body and make note of any aches, twinges, fatigue or unusual feelings. Most exercises have many variations and alternatives that you can do to work the muscles, so you might just need to switch to a different version. A personal trainer can help with this too.

Increase your stamina

If your injury put hiking on hold, (re)start with short treks on varied terrain as early in your training as you can. Even if you live in a fairly flat area, at least go on a dirt trail, and preferably one that has rocks or roots, to get used to the uneven surface.

To find nearby trails, check out sites like AllTrails <link to https://Alltrails.com > and apps like Hiking Project. They show detailed information about trails, and include reviews from people who have hiked them.

Your local parks and recreation department is also a great resource. Or stop by a store that sells outdoor clothing and gear and ask one of the employees.

Increase your distance gradually, adding 5-10% to the length of your hikes per week. Aim to complete multiple hikes that are at least somewhat similar in elevation change and length to what you expect to do on your trip within a month of your departure date.

Add weight to your pack very gradually, starting with just water and basic essentials <link to https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html>. Pay close attention to how your body reacts, then add more of what you expect to carry on the trip. Wear the pack on back-to-back hikes and note if you have any soreness or unusual twinges.

Select your footwear and gear

If you already have footwear, pack and other gear from before your injury, get it out and give it a try. The injury may have shifted your gait or how a pack feels on your back.

If you determine that you need new shoes, boots or other equipment, get them at least 2 months before your trip so you’ll have a chance to get used to them.

Use your footwear like you will on your hike – if the itinerary includes two or more days of hiking in a row, then hike in your boots or shoes for two days in a row. That second day can be very telling! Don’t be shy about exchanging footwear that’s not working well for you.

Similarly, use the pack you plan to take on the trip several times before you leave. If it rubs the wrong way or is uncomfortable, go to your local outdoor store to get it fitted or find a new one.

Consider using trekking poles. They reduce the amount of force on your knees, especially on the downhills. Plus they provide extra balance and stability.

If you’ve had a shoulder, elbow or wrist injury, though, you may want to try poles that have shock absorption.

Also look for adjustable poles, which you can shorten for longer uphill climbs and lengthen for the downhill sections. Many adjustable poles collapse so they’re easy strap to your pack when you don’t want to use them, such as scrambling over larger rocks where you use hands and feet.

Ready to head for the hills

As your trip gets closer, check in with yourself and your hiking partners, if applicable. Based on your progress, set realistic expectations for trip. Hopefully you’ll be feeling strong and confident about doing everything on your itinerary!

 

Get Personalized Help

Want an estimate based on your specific situation? Just email me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com and I’d be happy to help you figure out when you should start training for an upcoming adventure!

When to Start Training for a Trip

When to Start Training for a Trip

You’ve started thinking about where you want to go and the activities you want to do – a summer trip to the mountains with some hiking, or maybe a fall getaway with a few days of biking. Then you start to wonder if you’ll be physically ready for what you want to try.

One of questions I’m asked most often is how far in advance of a trip or activity to start training. Usually the question comes up for a “bucket list” trip, like hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or a multi-day bike trip through wine country. It’s worth considering for any trip where you’ll be doing more physical activity than normal, though.

By training to get ready for a trip where you’ll be spending more time and effort on physical activity than in your day-to-day life, you’ll have the strength and stamina to make the most of the experience.

You’ll feel more comfortable throughout the day and have more energy at the end of the day. You’ll be able to focus on what you’re seeing, who you’re with, and what you’re learning, rather than worrying about keeping up with your partner or group, or if your legs are going to give out before you reach your destination.

Having a big trip coming up can be a great source of motivation to get more physically active. To figure out when to start specifically training for a trip, take into account these factors:

  1. What activities you’re doing on your trip
  2. Your current activity level
  3. How much time you can realistically commit to training

Your Trip’s Activities

Back in 2013 my husband and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Although we live in Colorado and usually get out for at least one hike on summer weekends, we rarely hike more than 2 days in a row, and most of our hikes are 4-8 miles.

The Inca Trail route we chose involved 4 days of hiking 7-10 miles per day with up to 3,000 feet of elevation gain and loss on a couple of the days. Could we have just kept with our normal hiking routine and gotten through it? Probably – but we may not have been able to enjoy it as much as we did.

I injured my left knee in my mid-20s doing a 26-mile hike, and now if I hike a lot more miles than I normally do, my knee tells me about it. I’ve learned that I need to add mileage gradually and build up to longer distances. I also need to hike several days in a row to build up my muscles for a multi-day trip.

So we started training in late spring, about 3 months before our trip in mid-August. We picked hikes with more elevation change than we normally would to get ready for the ups and downs we’d experience in the Andes. We hiked both weekend days, and took longer walks in our neighborhood during the week.

When we met up with our group for the Inca Trail trip, we looked around and realized we were the oldest ones. Yet on the first day, we were the first ones to camp, and among the first to make it to the highest point on the second day.

Our training paid off – no knee issues for me, and we had plenty of time and energy to explore the amazing Inca ruins along the way.

So step 1 is to evaluate your trip’s activities. Are you doing one “big day” where you’ll be spending hours on a hike, bike ride, paddling or other physical activities? Do you have multiple days in a row of more activity than you’re used to? Do you have rest days in between active days?

By looking at the length, duration and number of days you’ll be active, you have the “end goal” in mind as you consider how much time you’ll need.

Your Current Activity Level

In my Inca Trail scenario, my husband and I started with an existing base of activity for what we were planning to do. So we were able to start from there and add to it.

This fall we’re doing a trip where we’ll be biking for 5 days in a row in Croatia. I try to get out on my bike periodically during the winter and spring, but honestly, it can be tough to do that where we live. And my husband only bikes periodically, even in the summer.

So guess what we’ll be doing this summer – getting on our bikes and riding at least 2-3 days a week as our trip gets closer!

Be honest with yourself about your current activity level, and how it compares to what you’re planning to do on your trip. If you’re going to be walking 5+ miles a day, and right now the only walking you’re doing is to your car and back for work and shopping, you’ll need a bit of time to build up to 5 miles.

Time Available to Train

Commitments for work, family, community and more fill our days and weeks. Finding some time for training may be a challenge.

If your schedule is already pretty tight, you may need to allow for a longer timeframe for training in advance of your trip. For example, if you can only set aside half an hour twice a week, and limited time on the weekends, then you may want to begin six months before your trip.

Another reason to start sooner is if you anticipate a period between now and your trip when you’ll have more than your usual time commitments.

When I was in my corporate job, I was heavily involved in an annual meeting that required extra work, which also aligned with an especially busy time in our marketing cycle. During the weeks leading up to the conference, I didn’t have extra time for anything new!

If you can keep doing at least some activity during those busy times, that’ll help you maintain momentum.

Calculating Your Timeframe

Now that you know a bit more about the three key factors, let’s look at some examples of how they combine to figure out your timeframe.

Example 1: Multi-day hike or bike, periodically active, 2-3 hours a week to train

In this scenario, I’d aim for at least 3 months to prepare since it’s a multi-day stretch of activity. With a few hours a week, you’ll be able to add activity amount gradually to build up to longer distances.

Ideally, as you get closer to the trip, you’d be able to carve out a bit more time and do back-to-back days of hiking or biking to simulate your trip experience.

Example 2: One “big activity,” not currently active, 1-2 hours a week to train

For this situation, it may be better to take 4-6 months to get ready. That gives you more time to add small increments to your activity level – I usually recommend adding 5-10% in distance per week.

If you currently walk a few blocks at the most (less than half a mile) a couple of times a week, and you want to be able to walk up to 10 miles, I’d suggest starting off adding a block or two each walk. In a few weeks you’ll be up to a mile, and in 2 months you’ll be up to about 2 miles.  

As your stamina builds, you’ll add more distance. By increasing distance gradually, you’re less likely to get an injury. And if you have to take a week off, you have time to make up for it.

 

Get Personalized Help

Want an estimate based on your specific situation? Just email me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com and I’d be happy to help you figure out when you should start training for an upcoming adventure!

Find Your Motivation Matches to Keep Moving

Find Your Motivation Matches to Keep Moving

It’s so nice and warm here in bed, snuggled under the down comforter with the cat curled up next to me. I don’t want to disturb the cat. I don’t want to wake up my husband. The furnace hasn’t kicked on yet and it’s still chilly in the house.

And yet I slip out of bed and put on my workout clothes, strap on my iWatch, grab my phone and turn on my wireless headphones.

What gets me out of bed on those cold, dark mornings? Why do I lift weights, run outside when it’s cold, and swim laps in the pool when I’d rather be doing something more fun?

At the heart of it, I exercise so that I can really enjoy the “more fun” stuff I’d rather be doing when I can do it, including exploring the world by foot, bike and boat. I want to be able to keep doing those things for many more years, and I know that staying fit through consistent exercise is part of that equation.

I’ll be honest though, on those cold winter mornings, it’s tempting to justify staying in bed and tell myself that skipping a day isn’t going to matter. And some days I do stay in bed longer and give myself a break.

To keep that from becoming a pattern, though, I turn to more immediate motivation to stay on track.

Everyone has a different “motivation match,” though I’ve found a few common themes for what keeps my clients consistently motivated as they pursue their goals.

Upcoming Event

This could be a big “life event” like a reunion or wedding, an annual event like a vacation or family visit, or a fitness-focused event like 5K run or a multi-day bike ride. The deadline is coming, so it’s time to get going!

Of course, starting in March 2020, this motivator evaporated for a lot of people. I had signed up to do a triathlon in July 2020, and was just about to figure out my training plan when it was cancelled. Darn, no laps in the pool!

As I write this in March 2021, though, the triathlon is back on, so I need to book my time at the pool. The percentage of people who have been vaccinated increases daily, and events are getting back on calendars.

Many people have a renewed appreciation for events, and are looking forward to making the most of FINALLY being able to participate in them!

One of my clients is gearing up for a summer trip to a “dude ranch” in Wyoming with his family, including his pre-teen grandson. Several years ago he was inspired to get into better shape for a trip to Glacier National Park, and ended up hiking 6 miles on the High Line Trail.

After a rough winter of staying inside due to COVID and weather, he’s gotten back into his strength training routine and started increasing his walking distance. He now exudes energy, excitement and confidence.

He acknowledges that getting into better shape will help him more fully enjoy his retirement in Colorado for years to come, which was why we worked to develop an exercise routine for him last fall. But it’s been his short-term motivator of hiking at the dude ranch in a few months that has really sparked him to get back on track.

Competitive Streak

As much as I enjoy participating in athletic events like triathlons and bike rides, I’m not a competitive person. But I know a LOT of people who are!

Some are competitive with themselves – they track their “personal best” for a specific route or type of event, aim to add distance, or set other specific goals to achieve.

Then there are those who push harder when they’re up against others head-to-head. They have the drive to win, and keep their eye on that prize.

Group Accountability

The power of accountability works motivation wonders for some people. The “group” be just one other person – a coach, a workout buddy, a family member – or even a dog, horse or other animal!

It’s a partner you’ve committed to exercising with or for, and you’re going to keep that commitment even on the tough days. One of my clients struggled to reach her daily step goal walking by herself. When she walked with a friend, though, she blew through it.

If you’re drawn to being part of a larger team working toward a common goal – at work, with your family, in your community – you can use the team approach for fitness too. Whether it’s a soccer team that plays games or a team of individuals training together for an event, the dynamic and energy can be similar.

The times that I rode the Bike MS through 100+ miles in Colorado’s brutal late June heat as part of Team Jude are some of my fondest memories. We trained together in the months leading up to the event, raised a ton of money, and our team’s “mascot” Judy was there at the end, smiling and cheering us on.

Social Accountability

This is similar to group accountability, though a bit broader and social media has definitely upped the ante.

How many posts have you seen on Facebook or Instagram about a friend or family member’s goal to run a marathon, complete a hike or some other athletic achievement?

Your proclamation doesn’t have to be that big and bold to provide motivation though. Even telling just a handful of supportive friends can be enough to get through those days when procrastination is rearing its tempting head.

Rewards and Incentives

Gold stars, medals, cash, t-shirts – it’s part of human nature to be motivated by rewards big or small. You can set a reward for yourself, such as buying something or doing something, or aim for an incentive from an external source, such as an employer’s wellness program that offers a gift card.

You can use small and frequent rewards – $1 for every workout completed goes into a jar, and soon you have enough to buy that sweet something you’ve been eyeing online.

You can also use a big reward for reaching a larger goal – a full day at the spa after completing a multi-day hike (my husband and I did this after our trek to Machu Picchu).

What’s Your Match?

Think about which of these resonate most, and how you might combine them to stay on track in case your “go to” falls through. Are you a “go for the gold” type of person? The dependable friend who won’t miss a group exercise class? Are you looking forward to a big vacation with family after a year of limited or no travel?

Once you figure out your motivation match, get specific about how to use it to fuel your fitness practice. And on those days when it’s a struggle to get out of the warm, cozy bed, you’ll have that extra push that keeps you moving forward.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

Tap Into Your Strengths to Reach Your Health Goals

Tap Into Your Strengths to Reach Your Health Goals

Have you ever heard or thought “creating healthy habits is hard”? There are lots of reasons people think this way – limited time and competing priorities, extra effort required to exercise and prepare healthy meals, existing not-so-healthy habits that have become entrenched.

Yet we all have strengths we can tap into to make changes so we can reach our health goals. In fact, using our inherent strengths makes it easier to shift our behavior, enjoy what we do and stick with it!

It makes sense if you think about it – doing things we’re good at is easier and more fun than doing things we aren’t good at, so why not apply that to improving our health?

Discover Your Strengths

Years ago I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, which focuses on talent-based attributes, and one of my strengths is “arranger.” I love to arrange events, social gatherings, and travel. In applying this strength to healthy behaviors, I arrange bicycling events that raise money for charity, group hikes for friends, and trips that include hiking and sea kayaking.

Another strength I have is adaptability. In my past corporate job, I was constantly shifting priorities and tasks to address the latest “fire drill” (we need a video for a big meeting in 3 days!) or change in strategy.

When my husband and I are traveling, I’ll quickly create a plan B if our original itinerary has a wrench thrown in it. For example, when we went up to Glacier National Park several years ago, with visions of backpacking for a few days and reservations for an amazing lodge stay afterwards, there was a forest fire in the park. Several areas were closed and the air quality was terrible, so backpacking there was a no-go.

So we headed south and went to the Tetons instead. I studied the map and found a great loop route for backpacking there. We set out on the trail, and as we reached our planned campsite for the evening, it started to rain. Fortunately we were prepared and had waterproof gear and a good rainfly for our tent. But after it rained all night, and looked like it was going to continue all day, we decided that hiking in the rain and then setting up our next camp with wet gear was not our idea of a fun vacation.

No worries though, we adapted our plans yet again. We hiked out and got a hotel room in Jackson Hole!

I also leverage my adaptability strength for fitness. I plan out my workouts for the week – which days I’ll run or bike, which days I’ll lift weights, and which days I’ll stretch and rest. But sometimes on my “bike day” the wind will be howling, so I’ll swap it with an indoor high intensity interval training workout. Or on a strength day my legs will be tired from a run, so I’ll focus on upper body and core exercises.

Capitalize on Your Character

Another part of your personality you can use is character strengths. The VIA Institute on Character offers a free self-assessment (https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register) that ranks how strong you are in traits like curiosity, creativity, teamwork and perseverance.   Let’s say you score high on curiosity and creativity. And your goal is to be able to hike 5 miles so you can keep up with your spouse or your kids on an upcoming trip to a National Park.

As you think about how to reach that goal, you realize that finding different routes to walk suit you much better than getting your steps in on a treadmill or the same path every day.

Seek Others’ Perspectives

Still not sure what your strengths are, or how they may apply to reaching your health goals? Ask family members, friends and coworkers what they think you’re good at – you may not realize that something you do “automatically” is a strength!

Then brainstorm how you could use those strengths to create habits that help you get healthier and happier. Sometimes just a small adjustment in how you approach your goal makes it that much easier and more enjoyable.

It’s like walking with the wind against your back instead of into it.

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FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.