How to Keep Working Out—Even When Your Life is Turned Upside Down

Let’s face it: life just doesn’t always go as planned.

No matter how hard you may try and control it, something always gets in the way.

And what’s the first thing that gets put on the back burner when something unexpected happens and turns your life upside down?

Your workouts.

You’re too tired, too busy, too stressed. So you stop exercising regularly, start eating like crap, and let all your hard work disappear.

I should know. I’ve been there.

And it’s completely understandable. But you can’t let it happen.

When moving gets in the way

Over the past four years, I’ve moved a total of 8 times. Three of those moves included going thousands of miles (from Portland to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to New York, New York to San Francisco), and four were into temporary housing—which, if you’ve never experienced it, is very unsettling.

And now, my husband and I are thinking of moving again(!)—but this time, we’re trying to buy a house in San Francisco (not an easy feat).

The one thing all these moves have had in common? They have all been very, very, distracting. And they would have all been perfectly good excuses to temporarily abandon my workout routine.

But I didn’t let that happen.

Dealing with death and sorrow

Earlier this year, my grandpa passed away.

Now, to be completely honest, I had never been that close to my grandpa. I liked him a lot, but only saw him growing up 2-3 times a year, and even less after I left for college.

But his passing… it really got to me.

It made me feel sad we’d never been closer. It made me heartbroken for my own dad, who now has only one living parent of his own. And it forced me think of the cycles of life, and what a short time on this earth we really have.

Whatever the real reason, his death left a hole in my heart. I had no energy for days, weeks. I felt unmotivated and depressed, and would break out in tears at any moment (the same thing happened when my childhood pets died a few years earlier).

Truthfully, the last thing I wanted to do during those weeks after my grandpa died was work out. I wanted to curl up in a ball and not move for days on end.

But you know what? I forced myself to exercise. I pushed through the pain, through the sadness and lackluster energy, because I had to.

Because I knew that keeping my body strong and healthy would be the only thing that would help me push past my sorrow.

Why you need to push through the distraction

Whether you’re moving, have experienced a loss in the family, are having a child, or are going through changes in your job or relationship—keeping a consistent workout schedule, is, for most people, nearly impossible.

But that’s why it’s so important.

Because amid all the distractions, the stress, the tears… you have to find a way to hold yourself together.

And there’s no better way to do so than to keep exercising, day after day.

How working out will help keep you sane

No matter what life-changing event you’re going through, regular exercise will:

  • Calm your nerves. Studies show that exercise helps get rid of stress, and my own experience tells me these studies are spot on.
  • Distract you. When you do a really tough workout (such as HIIT), its hard to think of anything but the movements and how badly your muscles are burning during the workout, and that’s a good thing. Brooding on what’s bothering or distracting you all day long isn’t a good thing, and exercise will help you take your mind off it—if only for a short while.
  • Make you feel better. Exercising releases endorphins into your brain and bloodstream. Endorphins make you happier.
  • Keep your appetite up. Many people, when they’re stressed out, sad or distracted, will forget to eat, or lose their appetite altogether. Exercising during difficult times will help stop this from happening, and keep those muscles you’ve worked so hard for in tact.
  • Give you structure. One of the hardest things about a life changing event is that it may completely dissolve the structure you’re used to having in your life and give you more time to brood. Knowing you have a daily workout planned can add a little bit of that much needed structure back in.

It helps, I promise

It doesn’t matter how terrible it sounds, how unmotivated or tired I am, exercising always helps—no matter what I’m going through at the time.

So the next time you experience a life-changing event, don’t let your exercise routine go by the wayside.

Push through your workouts and you’ll come out of the experience feeling less stressed, healthier, and happier.

I guarantee it.

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