Wed, Aug. 21

Five steps forward and one back is still four forward, right?

Magdalena Romanska

Magdalena Romanska

I e-mailed this question to a trainee, who suggested, "You should write about it in your column."

This optimistic view aligns with my beliefs. See, our path to well-being, health, and fitness is never straight. We all suffer setbacks big and small: a spell of allergies, a broken leg, lack of childcare or a flat tire driving to your favorite Zumba class.

When setbacks happen, feeling victimized by our environment or blaming other people does not serve us well or give us an upper hand in the situation. We cannot rely on the others to feel happy and fulfilled. We have to take responsibility for our destiny by adopting a happy, optimistic and healthy outlook, and "make lemonade out of lemons" attitude.

Think of your path to wellness as a mountain stream. The water does not flow in a straight line down to the river. It may veer left or curve to the right or slow down at certain points to get past the various obstacles it encounters -- rocks, logs, changing topography -- but it never stops and eventually reaches its destination.

It's the same with our fitness goals. When we encounter obstacles -- and nearly everyone will at some point-we may have to come up with creative solutions to overcome the problem(s) at hand. We have to be patient and remain committed because our goal is worth fighting for.

Several years ago, while roller skating on a cruise ship, I fell and broke my left wrist. And, I'm a lefty. I convinced the nice Puerto Rican orthopedist who whacked my hand back in place to put me in an extremely cool-looking, bright magenta cast that cheered me up. The evening of the accident, while babying my magenta-flashing limb in a sling, I walked three miles around the ship deck.

I spent the next seven challenging weeks using my creativity to keep fit while partially incapacitated. I took spinning classes several times a week, assisted by my cool spinning friends who were always asking if they could help adjust my bike. When my wrist stabilized enough to no longer require a sling, I jogged and ran. I went to the gym every day, doing three-limb planks, one-hand push-ups, full lower body workouts and fully working out the right side of my upper body.

At that time, my daily routine also included tennis, so I learned to play with my right hand. The results were not stellar. My right-handed serve was highly pathetic, but I remained active and on the courts despite the injury. I excelled at one-hand typing on my computer. My efforts left me somewhat imbalanced and with a stiff shoulder, but overall happy and strong. I knew I had the power to emerge from this setback a stronger person.

Once the technician -- who voiced a pessimistic prognosis for recovery -- removed my fashionable magenta cast (sniff, sniff), I started rehabbing the atrophied hand, which my daughter pointedly noted was half the size of the right one. I doggedly squeezed rehab eggs, spreading the colorful putty with my weak and stagnated fingers. I held the tennis racket, swung it and hit some soft, kids' balls. In a matter of weeks, my hand was back to normal.

By actively working to accomplish our goals, making new choices and refusing to passively accept limitations, which are oftentimes self-imposed, we have the tremendous power to create a happy reality for ourselves -- the place we want to be and the life we love to live.

If our mountain stream gave up its movement towards the river after encountering unexpected obstacles created by a recent storm, it would become a stagnant lake.

To achieve personal success, we must always work to devise innovative, clever solutions to get un-stuck, whether from external circumstances or inner doubts and emotions regarding our past, present or future.

So much depends on the way we perceive the issues at hand and how we present them to others.

Your life story is solely in your hands. You mold your present and future like a sculptor fashions a work of art. Please be aware of this amazing strength, of how powerful you are. Your physical and mental well-being will thrive for it.

Magdalena is the owner of "Be Fit Fit" Personal Training and Wellness Coaching Studio, Her "Be Fit Fit" blog can be read on

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