Win the Day: When The Going Gets Tough

Tips to Help You Thrive in Challenging Moments

September 5, 2011
Win the Day: When The Going Gets Tough

What do you do when the going gets tough? Do you look for solutions or excuses? Do you respond with grace or grump? Do you search for consolation or real talk? Do you give up or push on? When a goal is a priority, you cannot whither when the path gets uncomfortable, difficult or seemingly impossible. You must face those challenges boldly - this separates those who strive from those who actually arrive.

This past week in my Gaspari Nutrition Athlete blog ( CLICK HERE), I shared my recent experiences with the ups and downs of preparing for the stage and the importance of being able to cope with difficult moments successfully. Over the last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have done to be more successful at pushing through challenging times gracefully. I am currently managing more work and life responsibilities than usual, all while preparing for the biggest show of my career—the 2011 Bikini Olympia. More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve felt worn out and little stressed. But I still manage to push through and survive that day while making the next one better. Here’s how:

How I Thrive In Challenging Moments
When faced with challenging days or moments brought on by the stresses of life, for me, being able to survive and thrive comes down to being present and rational. In this state, I don’t allow the whims of my emotions to control my mindset and decisions. If you’re not careful, your emotions will lead you down a path to temporary fixes and gratification (i.e., lashing out at another person, giving up, having a bad attitude, cheating on your diet, etc.) without consideration of consequences. But the consequences are always right around the corner. You may be familiar with a few of these: Guilt, regret, strained relationships, embarrassment, weight gain, sadness, frustration and loss of confidence. I pretty much hate all of those outcomes and I assume that you do as well. However, the problem is that, in a difficult moment, we aren’t always tuned into our actions’ consequences. So rather than acting impetuously, I try (not always successfully) to do the following when the going gets tough:

1. Time Out: Whatever the situation is, I take a moment to get centered. For me, this usually involves closing my eyes and taking a few slow deep breaths to calm and clear my mind ( Click here for my blog on yoga breathing for further instruction ).

2. Start Smiling: Okay, so this may sound strange (and it often looks strange), but it works. When I feel irritable, tired or some other negative state, I will throw a smile on my face. It’s the old reliable, fake it till you make it. This usually helps to take the edge off whatever I am feeling, and if I am interacting with someone else, diffuses any tension. (In fact, my husband knows this “crazy”, as he describes it, smile so well that he usually busts out laughing as soon as he sees me do it). Besides my own success with the smile technique, there is actual psychological research that supports the idea that facial expressions can help bring about emotional states.

3. Address the Core Issue: Oftentimes when facing a challenging moment, we’re not tuned in to what the real issue is. For example, sometimes we think we’re starving, can’t handle the demands of our goal or that everyone in the world is a pain, but the actual problem is that we’re just tired. Before we start making regrettable decisions contrary to our goals, we need to think through what the real issue is. Once you know the issue, determine what you can do to solve it and GO DO IT. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to change your mind, stay stuck in a challenging moment and/or act irrationally (i.e. visit the peanut butter jar on the way to go to take a much needed nap).

4. Look Forward with Relentless Optimism: Once you have rationally thought through your situation, determined the solution and put it into action, stop focusing on your current not so positive state and start focusing on what you want to achieve. The sooner you can shift your thoughts to things that are positive and empowering, like how it will feel to achieve your goal, the sooner you will get there.

I used to make excuses for why I couldn’t stick to a clean eating plan or why I couldn’t make it to the gym regularly. As a result, for years, I treaded water with my fitness goals, because I would let life challenges get the best of me rather than taking control and responsibility for my response to such challenges. I finally stopped acting like a victim and used my creativity to come up with solutions rather than excuses. Challenge, barriers and obstacles WILL surface on your path to your goals. However, always remember that you have the capacity to push through them…with a smile even. Take it one choice, one thought, one decision and one step at a time. Win the moment…win the day.

SHARE YOUR WISDOM: What do you do to help you push through a difficult moment on the way to a goal? Share your ides with me on Facebook and Twitter. I LOVE hearing and learning from you!


Until next week, WIN THE DAY!

Your sister in fitness,

Jaime Baird
IFBB Pro | Team Gaspari Athlete
Twitter: @JaimeBaird
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ifbbjaimebaird
Team Gaspari: http://Jaime.GaspariNutrition.com/
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