No matter what level of athlete you might be, an injury is always a setback. Whether you’re training for an Olympic sport, preparing your body for a 5K, or just trying to lose those last 10 pounds, injuries are rarely a welcome step on the path to success.
Unfortunately, non-contact injuries like sprained ligaments and pulled muscles are often just a part of life -- especially for an amateur athlete. Sometimes they pop up out of nowhere and last briefly, but often they can be the start of a lingering problem. Only time will tell, so what can you do in the meantime to keep yourself focused, motivated, and ready to get back to the grind?
We’ll break down all this and more in ATAQ’s Guide To Staying Motivated After A Sports Injury:
A positive attitude will be one of your greatest allies in coming back from an injury.
While it might feel counterintuitive in the days/weeks/months after you hurt yourself -- when all you want to do is pout, sulk and curse the ailing part of your body -- positivity has benefits that go far beyond just putting a smile on your face.
On the path to positivity, the first important step is to accept that frustration and sadness are standard parts of the recovery process -- it would be silly to pretend otherwise. Post-injury, it’s common to experience mild symptoms of depression and a lack of motivation. The key is to allow yourself to process these emotions within a positive frame of mind.
The more you remind yourself that any unpleasant thoughts and emotions you might be feeling are part of the healing process, the quicker you will be able to move through these dark times and find the motivation to start anew.
Our advice is to find things each day that you are grateful for in your life. Whether that’s an improvement in your physical recovery, a promotion at work, or a meaningful relationship you might have been ignoring, rediscovering parts of your life that make you happy fulfills your biological drive to feel satisfied with your existence.
The more at peace you are with your life, the more emotionally, mentally, and physically present and motivated you will be throughout your recovery process.
Focus on Your Nutrition
As a plant-based company, we think improved nutrition is one of the most exciting opportunities on the path to injury recovery.
Often, people who injure themselves slip into bad habits when it comes to other areas of their physical health. This mistake can manifest itself in many ways, but the usual suspects include:
While the first two aspects of this list are important to avoid, they are often hyper-specific for each person and injury. However, nutrition is a far more general need that everyone can improve by following simple steps and making an effort.
The first step to better nutrition is to start keeping a daily log of your food intake. This is a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses in your diet. Maybe you do an excellent job consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but you still have room to improve when it comes to cutting down on your excess sugar consumption.
Whatever your log looks like, it’s essential to not judge yourself for it: by the very nature of logging your meals, you’re already off to a great start when it comes to caring for your body’s nutritional needs.
Once you have a log that accounts for a reasonable length of time (two weeks or more), it’s time to start addressing the needs you’ve found in your diet. This step can often make for an exciting and rewarding time if you maintain your positive outlook.
For example, let’s say your diet has revealed that you have an overreliance on high-calorie foods low in protein. This probably means you have to cut back on french fries, potato chips, and desserts (or whatever your guilty pleasures might be), but did you also know that there are plenty of healthy, delicious foods that are excellent sources of protein?
While it can be frustrating to say goodbye (for now) to some of your junk-food favorites, there are a plethora of easy-to-prepare, delicious and inexpensive snacks and meals that you can whip up using just fruits, veggies, grains, and tubers (fancy word for potatoes and sweet potatoes).
If you want more help and guidance on creating and sticking with a healthy, nutritious diet, look no further than some of our other blog posts.
- Nutrition for Endurance
- The Best Vegan Protein Sources
- Choosing The Right Sports Nutrition For You - A Guide
- Plant-Based vs. Vegan Diet
- Nutrition Facts Labels: How To Read Them
Set New Goals For Yourself
Our last piece of advice is often the most rewarding for those craving a sense of purpose and post-injury motivation.
While your comeback has likely stunted your pursuit of more extensive, physical goals (playing games, running races, etc.), this does not mean that you have to stop setting and achieving life goals altogether.
One of the biggest mistakes we see people make during their comeback is assuming that one goal’s injury-induced failure means that all other plans have to go by the wayside. This could not be further from the truth.
A positive attitude during recovery means accepting feelings of frustration. Goal-setting during a physical comeback requires you to emotionally, mentally, and physically accept that your injury will limit you in some ways, but not in all forms.
An excellent method to physically visualize this is to make a list of goals you want to achieve that have nothing to do with your injury. Have you always wanted to learn to cook? Put it on the list. Are you interested in learning another language? Put it on the list. Finally, have some free time to take your dream vacation? You get the point.
As you start to make a list of the goals you truly want to achieve in life, be they fun options like the ones we’ve listed above or more serious ones (addressing your mental health, career goals, etc.), you will quickly see that you have an infinite number of goals that have little to do with your injury.
Once you begin to set and achieve goals outside the realm of your injury, you can start to incorporate injury-related goals back into your life. Instead of viewing an ice bath, physical therapy session, or thirty-minute stretching session as a chore, look at it as a long term, meaningful step to getting yourself to a healthy place physically.
Married with your positive thoughts, a substantial list of goals you have set and achieved will make the path to recovery far more meaningful and rewarding.
For more information on staying physically active, fit, and healthy while maintaining a positive attitude and a nutritious diet, stay up to date with our ATAQ Blog and feel free to try some of our excellent, plant-based protein shakes and raw energy bars.
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