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Practicing Resiliency to Setbacks

Resilience can best be summed up by the definition:


Resilience – Re-sil-ience (noun)

  1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

  2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

  3. The chorus of Tubthumping by Chumbawamba – “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never going to keep me down”.


Okay, maybe the official definition is only numbers 1 and 2, but when talking about going to the gym or applying mental toughness in sports or everyday challenges, number 3 fits best. Resilience is a skill. And, like any skill, it needs to be practiced and challenged to see growth.


How does one practice resiliency?


For starters, having the right attitude can be the difference maker between someone who is going to give themselves the best opportunity to achieve their goals and a person who quits when the going gets tough as the results do not live up to the expectations.


Remaining positive, and acknowledging failures as learning opportunities, is the best way to not get down on oneself. Failure is a natural phase when trying something new and challenging. Challenge is where the growth comes from. Getting out of one’s comfort zone is the best way to make changes.


Building resilience in the body is quite straightforward. Going to the gym consistently and performing resistance training exercises will train muscles to become stronger and more resilient to those exercises. Results can be seen and felt as the weights go up, performance improves, and carrying out daily tasks become easier.


This can be said for any type of goal-oriented reasoning for exercising or adopting a healthier lifestyle. As long as the results continue, motivation remains. However, as soon as results waiver, the test of mental resiliency begins, and in most cases, the result is to quit.

This happens because the results do not meet expectations as the expectations are usually set too high and unrealistic.


We see this during events such as New Year’s resolutions or when someone makes a conscious decision to change their lifestyle. The fault comes in not knowing how to manage the ups and downs of the healthier lifestyle roller coaster.


This is where the practice of resilience, learning how to set realistic goals, and having the positivity to celebrate improvements, no matter the size, becomes important for success.

An individual has a vision of losing 30 lbs in 30 days. The plan they create involves working out extremely hard 5-7 days per week for one to two hours per day, are conscious of what they are eating, how they are exercising, the types of exercise, the length of time devoted to exercise, drop junk foods, and are no longer indulging in outings with friends or family as it does not support their goal, etc. Unfortunately, they are doomed from the start. The reason, unrealistic expectations, and goals.


In the fitness world, a realistic, yet challenging goal for weight loss is between one to two pounds per week. Factors of a caloric deficit created by healthy eating, exercise, or a combination of both, are what will make a weight loss goal possible. End of story.


Knowing this to be the case, once the individual described above realizes that the intensity of the efforts is not meeting the vision, the question of “is it worth it?” comes into play. And, as we know from studies of New Year’s resolutions, 80% of people don’t think it is and drop off.

The most common error is the “zero to sixty” mentality, “all or nothing” rather than focusing on the small victories that have been accomplished during their time of exercise and healthy living.


This is where building resiliency becomes part of the practice to maintain and sustain long-term success. Celebrating the victories along the way instead of only focusing on the end result or lack thereof .


So, how does one build and use resiliency to achieve success? It’s like the song says, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never going to keep me down”. For every setback, find a positive. Frame it as a learning experience of what doesn’t work and turn it into something that does work.


The person above may not have lost 30 lbs like they originally envisioned, maybe they lost 4.5 lbs, kept a consistent effort in the gym, felt better because of healthier eating, and have managed to make improvements in their health. That is a success far more valuable than the unrealistic goal of 30 lbs in 30 days.


Resiliency is tested and built by not giving up on the goal, instead, supporting the goal by using the appropriate actions. 30 lbs can still be the end target of a realistic journey. The mindset surrounding it becomes one of forming the habit of not giving up, dusting off after failures or setbacks, and getting back up on the horse.


Stay strong. Stay resilient. Tomorrow is another day to start fresh! Take it one day, and step at a time, to be successful.


Written by Darrin Horsman, Account Manager, Calgary AB


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