Flirting with Distraction

When I returned home from Power Monkey Camp last month, I thought I would hit the ground running with all the new ideas and skills I learned during my time in Tennessee.

I was given a full toolkit to use in my training – mobility exercises, handstand drills, lifting techniques, etc. But while I enthusiastically shared all this information with the coaches and fellow athletes at my gym, I haven’t put any of them into action.

Life has gotten in the way. From projects at work to moving into a new house to a weekend jaunt in New York City, everything has distracted me from my training.

I am not unique in this situation. So many of us have jobs, relationships, kids and other responsibilities that take us away from the gym more often than we would like.

Sometimes it physically keeps us away, while other times it is all mental. We show up but cannot focus on the day’s workout and just go through the motions as we are too busy in our heads thinking about bills that need to get paid, cars that needs to get fixed, deadlines that have to be met and Halloween costumes that have to be made.

Scientists typically identify two broad types of distractions: sensory and emotional. The sensory distractions are the ones more easily tuned out, like the loud coworker yammering away on the phone or the never-ending Ariana Grande song on at your gym during the WOD.

Emotional distractions are much more difficult to ignore as they are stimuli that elicit a strong reaction, like anger or anxiety, and dominate your thoughts.

I have definitely been feeling much more stressed out these past few weeks due to all the balls up in the air that I am trying to juggle.

For me, these distractions have caused me to lose my focus and make too many excuses.

I want to clean up my diet and eat better to perform, but I’ve put off trips to the grocery store and preparing meals in advance because I am choosing comfort and convenience.

I feel stressed so I say that I should treat myself to that delicious chocolate chip cookie at lunch to feel better.

I want to start a more consistent lifting program, but I keep putting it off because I know I have this work event or that weekend trip that won’t let me get a full week in.

I decide to hold off for now and suddenly one week becomes two becomes a month later. I tell myself that it’s okay, I need the time to do nothing and “relax”.

Jack Canfield, a motivational speaker and author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, says, “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.

They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”

My takeaway is that ather than react to all these distractions, I need to act now:

  • I’m going to combat the tendency to make poor food choices by getting ahead of them and loading up my crock pot with awesome recipes and realize how much more relaxed and better I feel when I prepare my lunches for the week ahead on Sundays like I used to.
  • I’m going to get back into a regular lifting routine by looking at where I’ve had past success rather than wasting time reading through Reddit feeds and fitness articles trying to pick some unknown. I’ve had gains with Smolov in the past – decision made! (And if I miss a day, I miss a day. At least I will be on the path again to my goal.)
  • I’m going to fight all the stress by doing everything I can in my power to stay healthy despite it – drink lots of water, get to sleep on time, practice yoga regularly. These distractions can dominate our heads and our hearts and their emotional affects often manifest themselves in undesirable physical symptoms (i.e. headaches, skin breakouts, colds, etc.).

I haven’t totally forgotten about my goals this past month, but I let so many other things distract me from them.

I need to move with the tide rather than let it just drown me. Life is not smooth sailing. There are trade winds that can take us in a million directions.

The key is always having a compass and a map in case you get momentarily lost.

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