To say I wake up every day super psyched to take on the day would be a complete lie. And anyone who thinks I walk in to the gym ready to tackle every work out with the enthusiasm of Mr Motivator is also mistaken. In August I lost my mojo. My life had completely changed and I kind of fell apart a little. The “getting on with it” attitude wasn’t cutting it. I thought that by just eating right and exercising my mind would follow suit. For once…this didn’t work. The only way I can describe it is I fell in a hole. I know that sounds odd but it’s like I was trying to dig deep in myself and keep going despite all things and chaos that was happening around me. Instead I dug so deep I fell in. It was dark, lonely and I felt like there was no way out.
Before I fell in
Weirdly it was my training that highlighted something wasn’t right. For some it will make sense when I say the gym is like my church. It’s a place of peace, to work on myself, to push myself in more ways than just physically. The movements and weight that were second nature became difficult, the dumbbells I was benching with ease felt impossible to lift. The 15 minutes on the stepper felt like a life time (to be fair…there’s no change there!). The place I felt like me started to feel unfamiliar, made me feel like a failure. It came to the point where I tried to deadlift a weight, a weight that would usually be a warm up, and I just couldn’t. I remember calling my mum and crying because if I couldn’t even do something I love…what the hell was I supposed to do? I remember sitting on the floor in the gym and messaging a friend saying I suck and I just couldn’t do it. He then asked me why I was training? Why am I in the gym? And for the first time I didn’t know.
Put on the brakes, but don’t stop
The first thing I did was stop. I stopped training… shock horror! This was the hardest but best thing I have done. I needed a time out. If I didn’t know why I was there I didn’t want to associate my negative mind-set with a place I love. So I stopped. But I couldn’t just stop moving altogether, I feared I’d never move again! So I stayed active, dabbled in different activities I didn’t do in the gym. I mountain biked, walked, jogged outside, I even took a few yoga classes. I just needed to feel in touch with my body in a way that I wasn’t putting unnecessary mental and emotional stress through it.
I slowly started to feel less strain on my body and started to feel like I actually wanted to go back to training.
Get back to basics
Why did I fall in love with training? With weightlifting? Building and sculpting my body?
I forgot how much I enjoyed the feeling it gave me, achievement of mastering my body to perform a movement. To lift something heavy, to move something that weighed more than my body. So I went back to basics. I trained only what I wanted. I bet many of you would think that meant I skipped like a billion leg days! But to the contrary my work outs had no order or purpose apart from me to enjoy it. If I wanted to do hammer curls, then squat, I did. I went back to chasing the pump and the rewarding feeling of a good set.
This gave me a little spark back.
The numbers game
I had to leave my ego at the front door! Forget the numbers! Forget the kg you lifted last time or how many reps you were able to do. It was about feeling it. My muscles right now don’t know the difference between 8kg dumbbells at 18kg. It knows work load and resistance. So I left the note book at home and didn’t log a thing.
I know for most athletes, body builders, people who love to train will perhaps think this was a little odd to not track any progress but the progress wasn’t about anything other than pulling myself out of the hole.
Phone a friend
One thing I did that really helped was phone a friend, not just for a chat, but to organise a work out together. To put some fun, some friendly competition and banter back in to the work out. Training with someone different with a different style, different routines means you can bounce ideas of each other, push each other and even learn something new. As much as I love a good lifting session with my headphones in ignoring the world it’s nice to work out with someone else.
Personal training. This will likely sound biased based on the fact I’m a personal trainer haha. But it’s a worthy investment. I would not have even been in the situation I am in now without the first encouraging sessions from a PT. Having a good Personal trainer can help you push past boundaries, know when you are close to your limits, encourage and motivate you. Not only that, but it’s so easy to spend money on other people, stuff for the house, your partner, your child, your car. But how often do you invest in yourself, your own wellbeing and fitness. It’s valuable and empowering.
Seeking help can be such a taboo subject. The hole I fell in was a lot deeper than I could get out of alone. I needed some guidance. Some people hate calling for help, they will try to slap on a smile and get on with it. I learnt the hard way it doesn’t always work out that way. The way you have to see it is like someone throwing down a ladder. Someone can help you by doing so but you still have to work to climb out. So I see a therapist once a week. I used to feel a bit embarrassed about saying it. But there is no need. If you have a bad shoulder…you’d see a physiotherapist. If you have an illness…you’d visit a GP, if you don’t feel right, mentally, if you’re struggling see someone! It’s like a massage for your mind. Sometimes its uncomfortable, sometimes it feels good but you always come out being able to function a little bit better.
I decided to share this with you guys because I’m sure there must be so many people stuck in a rut, not necessarily because something bad has happened to trigger it, but because it happens! You are not alone. All I can hope for is that something in this blog can help or resonate with 1 person. If it’s done that, it’s worthwhile. It’s important to recognise everyone has their own battles. So when you see someone at the gym and they are working hard or struggling, if they make eye contact, smile. They might just need it.