Last week’s topic of how to turn fitness into a lifestyle (go here if you didn’t get a chance to read) got me thinking about what to do if you find yourself in a position of starting over.
Maybe you got injured and had to take a significant amount of time off from the gym or you were taking care of a family member or you got sick or had a baby or just got burnt out or any number of things that life can throw at us that interferes with our fitness pursuits.
Now you are faced with starting over. This is extremely challenging, perhaps even more challenging than beginning in the first place.
A couple of years ago I had a shoulder injury that put me out for a little over a month. That was absolutely no overhead movements, no pressing, no pull ups. GASP! No pull ups! This may sound dramatic but at the time I honestly felt like the world was ending.
When I came back, all healed up, I was faced with a huge problem (or what seemed like a huge problem). I had gone from doing 20kg/45lb weighted pull ups to barely being able to squeeze out body weight. Even though I no longer had shoulder pain, I was constantly comparing myself to the athlete I was before the injury.
This my friends is a recipe to feel miserable and inadequate.
Once I was able to do sets of 5 body weight pull ups, I was still unhappy because I was constantly thinking about the strength level that I had been at and how I wanted to get back to that as quickly as possible and that I wouldn’t be good enough until I was that strong again.
When you first start out at anything, you celebrate when you achieve something, even if it’s small. I remember how happy I was the first time I did one bodyweight pull up. Just one. There was a time when that was enough and I felt amazing for it. As you progress as an athlete you stop doing this.
So here is what I wish I would have done and the advice that would give you if you are in this situation. See starting over as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the little things again, to not take training too seriously. Stop comparing your strengths now to your strengths before your time away, you are not the same person, and definitely not the same athlete. Starting over is a chance to come in with a completely new mindset.
I can tell you from experience that my shoulder injury did not stop me from becoming ridiculously strong (not to toot my own horn, TOOT TOOT) and now I’m way stronger than I was before that injury. Give yourself time, celebrate your victories, and you will come back better than ever.