Recently, I had three different people from different walks of my life tell me they were holding back from their exercise in particular; one was returning to her gym, another considering joining a new place to work out, and the third just wanting to do something but unable to just pull the trigger.
Immediately, and independently of one another, I asked each of them what was delaying their return or their actual start. Instinctively, I began coaxing them that each day they did not embark into their desired athletic routine was another day they failed to get stronger. What did they have to lose? Except another day of added strength and good health because they feared what? Get in there! So what if you need to start at what you consider “ground zero” from a fitness perspective; you will walk out of there stronger or fitter than when you first came in. Chip away at your fitness goals, but you have to take that first step in order to get there.
All three of them had various reasons why they were hesitant: one was ultimately scared, one was nervous about trying a new gym/exercise and the third just does not prioritize herself. Three women, one week, all putting up roadblocks to personal goals they sought to pursue.
And then I realized I had been doing the same thing – holding myself back.
Nearly two months post Boston Marathon, I have only recently returned regularly to my Crossfit and regular activities from a labral tear in my hip. Every day I would wake up and say to myself, “Today! Today is the day I’m back at Crossfit!” Every day for two weeks, something would come up – whether it was a kid activity, or a viral bug that went through the household, or even slight hip pain and I would not make it in to Crossfit. Enough with the excuses (whether they are good, bad or indifferent), the bottom line is that using my injury as an excuse was getting old and quickly so. I was holding myself back because I did not *feel* ready. Rationally, I knew my coach would help me modify my workout. Irrationally, I knew I would get caught up in the momentum and want to push myself further. Rationally, I knew my coach would be ALLUPINMYBUSINESS and not allow me to push beyond what was acceptable for my current state of mobility. Irrationally, I did not want to put myself into that position to have to tell him to GETOUTOFMYFACE (and risk further injury to myself at the cheap cost of some endorphins) as I proved to myself and the world that I was BAAACCCCKKKKK.
Humble, humble, I tucked my little tail between my legs and resurfaced in my local Crossfit box a couple of weeks ago. I was welcomed beyond expectation as my fellow Crossfitters were happy to see me and cushioned my re-entry with kind words like “Welcome Back! We missed you!” Knowing, sympathetic glances were cast my way as my projected and envisioned trajectory into that day’s WOD would be a bumpy ride, at best. Yes, I baby-stepped my way right back into the world of DOMS (that’s delayed onset muscle soreness just so you know) and my brain gobbled up the swirling adrenaline rush and endorphin party. My muscles seem to have a better memory than my body’s fitness. The strength came naturally and the cardio nearly made me die. Snatches felt great (not MY snatch, the overhead barbell movement perverts) and burpees felt not so great. Okay, I lied, the burpees not only hurt my hip they crushed, steamrolled, pounded my ego with the resounding scream that nearly escaped my lips as I tried to bang out five @#$%&*! burpees every minute on the minute (amongst deadlifts and wall balls, thank you very much).
Holding myself back. Um, yes. Why? Because I feared not being able to perform like I was pre-marathon. Does anyone care how I perform? Um, no. Yes, I do. Yes, my coach does. However, the expectations, at least from normal people, are that you must build back up again. Why is that a fearful process? If a friend hurts themselves, the first thing you would advise them to do is go slow, steady and be smart and careful about working back up to their pre-injury routine. Right? Right. However, often times it is much easier to rationalize a different story for ourselves and mold our thought process to fit our justification accordingly.
The realization is that we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What Story Are You Telling Yourself?” Really. Yes! Ask yourself. Stop, breathe, ponder that question for a moment – and find out if your story is true to you.
What do I mean? Here’s an example: during my marathon traiing, endless numbers of people commented, “Ohhhh, good for you. I can’t run.” Reallly? You can’t? Or do you choose not to? It is okay if you choose not to, but do not say you cannot run. Everyone can run. You have two legs and unless you have a physical disability, you can run. Is your story that you cannot run? My question in response will be what activity is it you do like to do?
Running is not for everyone, nor is Crossfit. I happen to like both, for very different reasons. I do not like to Zumba or do yoga. My story is not that I cannot do them, because physically, I can. Dancing is not considered exercise to me, I only partake in busting a move when being goofy (like last week when “Buffalo Stance” suddenly came on the radio while I was waiting to pick up my kid at the movie theater), or when I have had a few drinks (and I suddenly think I am a former Fly Girl). Yoga is great, but not my preferred cup of tea (I prefer to literally kick my own ass). But I CAN do them.
Lately, I have asked myself again, “What Story Are You Telling Yourself” with respect to other aspects of my life. As I seek to discover a way to morph more of my passions into the forefront of my life, I am tethered down with the need to earn a paycheck and pay bills. Alas, more thoughts of me holding myself back and I am forced to ponder what precisely I intend to do about it.
More friends convey similar patterns in their respective lives – afraid to make career moves because of the story they tell themselves. Do you have friends who are afraid to undertake particular activities? Is that person YOU? Are you going to settle for the same old, comfortable layer of explanations on why they cannot do something? Are you going to say you cannot? Because I will tell you that you CAN!
Everybody has the capacity to dream up and believe anything he/she wants to. Why is it so easy to fall into the trap of your story? Chapters may not be rewritten, but future chapters are certainly open to strategic outline, careful planning and most certainly execution. Is it easy to hide behind the most comfortable version of our book of life rather than seek out the change we most desire? Most of you that I know are not lazy people by nature, so I know it is not languor that drags you down. Most of you are not fearful people, but is it fear or even anxiety that prevents you from tweaking your life story? When I find fear entering my life, I have to remind myself of the old question itself: What’s the WORST that can happen? In my particular version, I simply pick myself up and dust myself off a thousand times over. Sometimes, it is easy and other times, it is soul-crushingly hard. However, that person I am picking up is stronger, healthier, smarter, kinder, and resilient enough to go at it again and that feels good.