Running is Alison Feller’s passion. Thanks to Crohn’s disease, however, the 33-year old freelance writer and host of the Ali on the Run podcast sometimes has to sit it out. In 2013, in fact, she entered a particularly long period of flare ups and missed a full two years of running.
Amazingly, Feller has learned to make peace with her reality, accepting where she is with her disease and ability to run. But it wasn’t without a good deal of dedicated hard work.
When it comes to fitness, the art of meeting yourself where you are — as Feller has done — can have a big impact on your sense of well being and happiness. This holds true whether you’re dealing with injury or illness, or at any point along your fitness journey. Staying present, realistic and accepting can lead to peace and positivity in your life.
“When you’re constantly looking to the next goal or place you want to be, you’re not enjoying where you are,” says Brad Stulberg, co-author of "Peak Performance" and soon-to-be-released "The Passion Paradox". “When you think of the future, it’s usually an emotion of excitement, which you can easily mistake for happiness.”
What’s at stake, however, is the very real potential for that excitement to eventually flame out. Left in its wake is a perpetual cycle of craving, which leaves you unhappy and unsatisfied.
Staying focused in the here and now
Meghan Wieser, a doctor of physical therapy and a CrossFit coach at Maryland-based Recharge, sees patients and clients alike who find themselves in this place of dissatisfaction. “Most people fall into one of two camps,” she says. “Those who take it for what it is and do what they can, and those who become frustrated and fight their current situation.”
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Wieser works with patients/clients in the latter category to reach a place of acceptance so that they can get the most out of their therapy and/or workouts. “I like to help them remember a time in their lives where they’ve struggled and overcome the situation,” she says. “Then I remind them that at some point, they didn’t think they’d make it through, but they did.”
Pain and stress, says Wieser, manifests differently in each person and when you are fighting them, they will negatively impact your body and psyche. “Once I can get a patient to the point of acceptance, we start celebrating the little wins along the way. One more rep, for instance, or another degree of mobility.”
For Feller, the road to acceptance was long and bumpy. “I would try to run with flare ups but I finally reached a place where if I made more bathroom stops than miles run, it wasn’t worth it,” she says. “I wasn’t getting the mental benefits I needed.”