I have had it pretty easy for a very long time.  I have been happily married for the majority of the 28 years I have been married and the 30 years I have been with my wife.  Of course, there have been ups and downs but this last 6 months has been ROUGH. 

I have said for years that if you want to consistently improve and be able to put 100% into your progress, you better have your life in order.  What I mean is if you have stressors in your life or your life is chaotic, good luck progressing and competing at your best.  Ducks need to be in a row and those who tend to excel for long periods of time in this sport, have minimal outside influences getting in the way of their progress. 

Some examples of outside stressors:

If you don't have the money to pay your bills then paying for what you need to excel in bodybuilding is going to be even more of a challenge.  

Consistent job:

If you are constantly switching jobs, getting fired or laid off, these are huge stressors that will play into your success and your mindset in the gym.

Relationship issues:

If you are constantly fighting or just not in a good place with your relationship, this can easily derail motivation to train and the be a huge obstacle in staying consistent in the gym.

Though there are a myriad of other stressors, a few more to add to the list that can impact your progress are:

Your spouse's stressors.

Health, not just of yourself but of your spouse, kids or parents.

Death in the family.

Kids having trouble in school, trouble with the law, etc..

Though some of these things are just plain "life" and you have to find a way to deal with them, sometimes things can happen that simply just wipe you out, emotionally.  In my case, there have been a few big issues that have happened simultaneously that have had a huge impact, psychologically.

3 things happened within the last 3 years that started to take a toll, slowly:

1. After 21 years in Colorado, we made a move to South Florida almost 2 years ago.  It was a good move and I am happy to be here but it has still weighed on me that we left our "home" of 21 years to start over at almost 50 years old.

2. At roughly the same time we moved (and part of the reason we decided to move), 3 of our 4 kids left home leaving us almost empty-nested.  You wouldn't think this would be a very big deal but until you are there and deal with it, you have no idea.  

3. My wife lost her Mother to cancer over the last year-and-a-half. She passed a couple of months ago.

One of these 3 situations is bad enough but all 3 can take a toll even on a strong marriage of almost 30 years.  When the stress impacts the marriage, the stress impacts everything -- from your ability to focus on your work (work would take me longer to complete) to training and dieting and sometimes even finding the motivation to actually GO to the gym or do ANYTHING.

My progress has been great this year but as the stress was building to a climax this last month or two, I started to really struggle with motivation, and training became more of a chore than something that I enjoyed.  

I would like to think we have turned a corner and things are looking up, but it's day to day, sometimes.  I still have bad days where I have to really focus on what needs to be done vs. simply enjoying the process.  I have had YEARS of not having to deal with negative stress so I may have even become a bit spoiled in that sense.  When the stress kicks up, it almost seems overwhelming.   I started to make more headway in dealing with it when I acknowledged it vs. simply denying it or attempting to compartmentalize.  I am good at compartmentalizing and kept reminding myself of that, but when it gets to the point where you are overwhelmed, it is hard to lock out those stressors and not have them affect you.

Moving forward from here, I am in a better place now because I am aware and accept the stress. I also know that a lot of the problem is how I deal with it.  As this year ends, I am seeing the stress decrease and I hope that 2020 finds me back in a rhythm that I am used to — one that is much lower stress and enjoying the process that much more.  At least right now, that is the direction that I am heading.