I’m going to stay a bit more superficial with this and address the physical starting over I’m currently experiencing–perhaps you can relate in some way, perhaps not. This is entirely new for me, but it seems to be the theme of my recent past, and I am grateful to have the breath in my lungs and health to “restart” as well as the lingering dreams and ambitions that, despite having laid dormant for a time, are resurfacing. God’s timing has been absolutely perfect in breathing life into them again. (More on that in future posts.)
As a former Division I athlete, it was literally part of my job description to stay in shape for competition. Becoming the best athlete I could possibly be was my job, and along with the territory came regular strength and conditioning sessions that pushed me physically and mentally beyond what I ever thought I could do. I never thought I would be able to run a 6:30 mile, squat 300 pounds, deadlift 400 pounds, run double-digit mileage—but I did. I completely took it for granted at the time and couldn’t understand how others, even my own teammates, couldn’t do those things. I simply could not see outside of my own experience to understand others. Then I graduated, life got hard, and I became a normal person again with real life problems that had to be confronted. I was stressed, and exercise/training and competition were coping mechanisms I used for a while to help deal with stress as well as make myself feel adequate as a human being because elite athleticism, I believed, gave me worth. Then the stress became too much, and I reached a point that even thinking about working out was too much to cope with, so I didn’t. Well, I took a step back, doing what I felt like doing when I felt like doing it, but to make progress you can’t really do only what you feel like doing. I am finally back to a point in which, by the grace of God and through the love and support of both my blood-related family and my church family, I am working productively through the muck that I couldn’t navigate on my own and can finally begin getting myself back to where I want to be physically. I have far too many ambitious goals ahead and being in great shape ultimately does help me to do the things I enjoy better and for longer periods of time. I’ll be honest—today was humbling! I did a basic workout (for me) that knocked out strength training and conditioning, but it was not even close to what I would have considered challenging while I was in peak athletic condition.
I journaled my thoughts as I did the workout, because I want to look back on this with gratitude and not forget what it’s like to start from the bottom. Am I completely to the point of having never trained before? No. But, I’m not where I was, and I’m developing an appreciation and empathy for those who do have to either start over or simply start period.
The entire workout I battled thoughts of “this shouldn’t be so hard” and had to simply combat them with the understanding that I am building a foundation again. Yes, it’s going to be hard as my muscular and cardiorespiratory systems will have to be overloaded to become stronger, but I’ll get there. I’ve been there. The initial building of the foundation is crucial and I have to progress myself wisely. So I did 5×5 squats and my final set was 165 pounds. So that was less than my warmup sets when I was in college. So what? The next time I’m at 5×5 I’ll be ready to take on more weight because I’ll have built just a little more onto the foundation. The key right now is consistency—sticking to my program and doing it even when I don’t feel like it. I may have to go at it alone sometimes, and that’s okay. I can’t rely on other people to meet me where I’m at if they aren’t ready for it, and I can’t expect others to regress for me.
What I know is that this season has served, and will serve, to strengthen me. This is in more than just a physical sense, but also in a personal and professional capacity. I’ve never really been able to relate to people who have had to build up the courage to simply start doing something they know they should be doing and haven’t been, but I’m there. Having to walk through it myself is hard, but I think being able to empathize with those I’ll be serving in the future in health and wellness is so important. This season has been and will be challenging in more ways than one, but I know I’ll be coming away stronger. For those of you who have had to start, or have had to start over, I respect you. Starting is hard. Starting over is hard. But, it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life, and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you. The strongest homes have the most carefully constructed foundations–one brick at a time. 🙂