Taking control of your controllables

There are moments that I think I have it all sorted. But then I remember that there's a bigger picture that I don't control.

Take the current COVID-19 isolation scenario. One second, I'm excitedly creating training equipment. And then all of a sudden, that momentary delight of, 'Look at this inventive deadlift bar I've concocted!' becomes a realisation that, 'I don't actually have any idea of the timeline for this lock out from my usual training'. The initial focus and novelty fades. And the reality of the uncontrollables sets in.

Ryan Holiday's recap of the Stoic philosophy is a useful reminder for our current climate. I'm attempting to steer in this direction, but I'm still on my L plates. All of us are.

It's simple enough to isolate our bodies at home. It's a lot trickier to shift our mind. You didn't have a chance to recalibrate the practicalities of your goals, the things that create stability in your life, the things that make you, you. For many of us, our identity is tied to our ability to train, play sport, attend our job, see our family. All of a sudden, that thing is taken from you, at least in its familiar form. You can adjust your schedule, but your operating system doesn't update automatically like it does on your phone. The 'you a month ago' and the 'you today' can't sync.

This isn't just about coping in a pandemic. It's resilience training. It's not often that the stars align to create your ideal scenario.

This has ripple effects for your mind and body, although the precise form it takes can look different for each of us. For me, I've noticed that it's taken me longer to fall asleep even though I'm tired because my mind is still active. I'm not thinking about COVID-19 or any related topic. It's more than my brain just grabs an inkling or 'to do' item, magnifies it and spirals into over thinking. Ever had that? It's one of my tell tale signs that it's time to add more things in my life to calm my mind and body. You can't control the circumstances. You can’t control the number of days you'll be social distancing or isolating, or the mandated measures put in place. But you can find control in how you respond to the circumstances. I don't say this to pretend life is all roses. None of us buy that.

Take home message

Lingering on what's been taken from you only diminishes your control. Acceptance creates it. This isn't just about coping in a pandemic. It's resilience training. Taking control of your controllables is the key to meal preparation, healthy eating, fat loss, muscle gain and sports performance. It's not often that the stars align to create your ideal scenario. Rather than focus on the things you can't control, identify the things you can. Are there aspects of this problem that are up to you? Find the choices available to you, and put your energy there. Make that obstacle an opportunity.