Last week was my first week back in the box (gym) after being out for three weeks. And that was after only being back for 1.5 weeks after being gone for two months…after quitting…after injury..after too much travel…after more injury.
I hate to keep talking about how the last several months beat the crap out of me, but it’s important to understand what happened in order to appreciate where I am and more importantly, where I’m going. Most recently, just on the heels of my miscarriage, I totally tweaked out my entire upper right quadrant– sleeping weird followed by turning my head and inhaling at the same time. You know, the way most weird muscle crap happens. This was exceptional though! I have never experienced pain like that! It was so bad at one point that it had me walking around with my arm slung over my head for days, like this…
FOR DAYS! It was pretty miserable.
I treated it with ice, chiropractic, massage, rest, stretching, foam rolling and my new handy-dandy tens unit! Don’t I look cute being electrocuted?
It was a really rough 12 days of feeling like I wanted to cut off my whole right side from the waist up. Did I mention how bad it hurt? Well, during this craptastic expereince was when I stepped on the scale and realized I had gained 20lbs over the last few months. Yes, TWENTY! Which was the swift kick in the ass that I needed to stop making excuses for my poor food choices that were NOT helping my situation- in fact they were only perpetuating the problem.
That day, Wednesday the 28th, I changed my diet back to whole foods (veg/fruit/meat/limited starches), foods that nourish my body (already down 14lbs!) rather than those that cause inflammation (only making my upper right quadrant worse) and I committed myself to getting back to the gym the following Monday, even if all I could do was stand around and look (not so) pretty.
I talked to my coach about all of the issues I’ve been having over the last several months. Issues that I referred to as injuries but ones that weren’t caused by a fall or a strain or doing any one thing to create them. They were issues that came from working out hard then sitting at my desk and on airplanes for hours on end, standing with one hip jutted out while having conversations, keeping my shoulders rounded ALL OF THE TIME and sticking my chin up and out beyond a neutral spine position. Common body mechanic issues that we are unaware of in daily life. Ugh.
Back in October I had quit going to the gym because I thought that’s what was hurting me, but after reevaluating my daily life AND my performance in the gym I realized that the gym was the only place I WASN’T hurting myself. In fact, my form while lifting, running, rowing, etc., is actually pretty damned good because in those moments, it’s what I’m thinking about. I’m actively aware of my stance and posture. It’s the casual/habitual sitting and standing that are (were) ruining me.
So after this conversation with my coach, he and I made a deal to work on our posture out of the gym and work on resetting ourselves in the gym. Even though my form was good, it wasn’t perfect and reflected some of those bad habits I had in every day life. So resetting is what needs to happen and resetting is what we’ll do!
We started last Monday and will continue through the rest of February; every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We are starting at the bottom, with the VERY basics– squats, deadlifts, push-ups and pull-ups. It may be hard to believe if you’ve seen my Ugly Body post, but those last two I can’t even do at all right now. It’s THAT bad!
My first task was to readjust my air squat. Even though it looked pretty perfect, it wasn’t. Sure my weight was in my heels, my chest was up and my hips were getting lower than my knees– but I wasn’t keeping my core as tight as I should have been. That’s actually what we’ve been working on the most. Glutes tight, rib cage down, abs tight, neutral spine— ALL OF THE TIME! It’s a LOT to think about, but I can tell a huge difference in how I feel. When I get everything just right, my squats are nearly effortless, my dead lifts are 10 times easier and my ring rows and dumbbell floor presses are stronger.
Ring rows and dumbbell floor presses…
Those are the modifications I’m doing right now instead of pull-ups and push-ups because like I said a minute ago, right now I can’t do EITHER!
A Giant Kick in the Balls of Pride!
That’s right. As of right now I cannot even do a single assisted pull-up or a modified push up! NOT. ONE! All because of that right-side tweak.
Do you know how bad that sucks? If you’ve had setbacks before then you know all too well. It sucks A LOT. But the biggest thing that I have learned about fitness over the past few years is that it doesn’t get any better if I don’t keep working at it. So here I am doing dumbbell presses on the floor to stabalize my head, neck, shoulders and back with 10lbs of weight in each hand…and struggling like crazy to get that right arm vertical.
I mean STRUGGLING! Last Monday was pitiful. The left arm was like, “yeah, whatever, let’s throw this shit!” While my right arm was slowly shaking its way up. Those 10lbs might as well have been 100lbs. It took every ounce of energy and concentration that I had in order to move that weight on Monday, but by Friday I was able to do 3 sets of 15…and by this Monday (just one week from when I started) I did 3 sets of 15 at 12lbs. It’s not impressive when compared to where I was just a short time ago, but it’s progress from where I was last week.
I’ve also gone up 10lbs on my back squat and deadlift. They’re both less weight than I was able to lift last year, but this Monday’s weight was more than last Monday’s weight and that’s what matters.
People (me included) talk about “starting over” with diet and exercise the same way we would talk about a meal that we burned and had to throw away because it was inedible. Why do we do that?!?! So self-defeating!
I have come to realize that even though I am having to retrain my body to do the things that it once mastered, that does not mean that I am starting over, it means that I am making progress. I am choosing to keep moving, to keep training, to keep learning…all while recognizing everything that I learned and accomplished in the past has gotten me where I am today– not injured or messed up or broken or a failure, but capable of moving forward.
So instead of letting my brain be a pansy and let pride, frustration and a feeling of “starting over” stop me from making progress. I’m letting my body know that I am here for it, that I am taking care of it so it can take care of me. I know what my body is capable of– it’s proven time and time again that when I listen to it, when I give it what it needs– quality fuel and an opportunity to get stronger, it WILL do just that.
It is possible that I may never be able to hold my chin above a bar unassisted again, but there’s also a very good possibility that I WILL! The only way to find out is to do the work. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m here, I’m working hard and I’m not just giving up. I may not currently be faster, stronger, better than I was seven months ago, but I sure as hell am already MAKING PROGRESS.
I hope you’ll join me in making your own!
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