Staying Motivated While Sick

Being sick sucks. There’s nothing like continually going up in your squat for three weeks in a row only to get the sniffles one day and start feeling like your head is going to implode after each rep. Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there right now.

Encountering these kind of roadblocks is immensely frustrating for me. I like making progress, and nothing frustrates me more than a factor outside of my control mucking things up.

In inherently team-based endeavors like business or social change, such obstacles are annoying but are part and parcel of the process. In an activity like training, which for me is largely a solo-based practice, such challenges cause me more stress.

The Setup

You’re in your zone, everything is grooving and going swimmingly, and then POP! A mystical fairy of suck appears and casts a spell. Every time you do what you’re supposed to (wake up, eat right, go to the gym, sleep right) it’s going to be much harder, much less effective, and you will have to lower the weight or stop altogether.

It just doesn’t feel fair, does it?

The Consequences

I’ve spent the past three weeks with a head cold that won’t go away. I’ve lifted about once a week and a half. This was just after I set a new PR in my 3×10 squats for 120lbs (I felt like a Greek god, that was some spiritual ish…), so I was fired up to keep going.

These past couple of weeks have been miserable for me, and filled with a good amount of self-pity. I’ve felt my body losing strength, when I’ve gone back to the gym to squat I’ve had to lower the weight (just did 3×10 @ 105lbs yesterday) and I’ve felt my body become stiff from un-use (in particular that upper back region that tightens up from being on the computer too much all day…).

The Solution

I need to frame-shift. Instead of focusing on what I’m losing (weight on the bar, time in the gym), I need to focus on what I’m gaining (time outside of the gym, increased capacity for low-intensity work).

What could I do with more time outside of the gym, and with more energy to do low-intensity work (since I’m not lifting as regularly)? Quite a lot, it turns out. I could open up my hips, get deep stretches in my glutes, hams, and hip flexors, foam roll slowly and adequately each day, mobilize my joints with deliberate full range-of-motion movement, even work on core strength with planks.

All these actions will contribute to building a better squat (my main lifting goal) and making me stronger, but why did it take me so long to realize that?

The Final Word – Watch Out For Tunnel Vision

Because highly motivated people are motivated by success. And when we allow that to become our overriding focus we’re capable of great things. However, it also blinds us to other things we could be doing, so that when an obstacle we can’t seem to deal with (a sickness that won’t go away) comes along, we’re left saying “woe is me” instead of putting our available resources to maximum use.

How have you shifted frame to continue your training journey when events stacked up against you? Tell your story in the comments below!




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