My body hates me.
I remember when I first got certified as a personal trainer (circa 2007), I tore my rotator cuff. Here I was, barely two months with my certification and I couldn’t even do my normal workouts.
Instead, I spent about six months alternating between physical therapy and some prescription painkillers until the recovery was finished.
Fast forward twelve years and due to the nature of my work here, I am constantly moving, demoing exercises, twisting, turning, squatting, lifting, OH AND I also have to fit in my own training.
So, I am pretty much always fighting some type of injury/soreness/vulnerability/you name it and it pisses me off.
There is a certain individual who says “The Hell With It” and just powers through the pain. (That normally doesn’t end well.)
There is the other individual who is probably more hyper-sensitive to these things and would rather stay home and mope about it. (That sounds pretty awful also.)
I can’t really afford to be either one of those people.
You see, I HAVE to be able to do my job. And I also HAVE to find a way to train my body effectively.
Which means, in the grand scheme of things, some priorities may have to show some slack.
It may mean that some exercises are temporarily or permanently out of the mix.
It may mean that I have to modify the range of motion to perform an exercise so that I can execute it in a pain-free manner.
When I quit expecting perfection from myself, I gave myself new benchmarks that could ebb and flow based on how I feel.
If my elbow starts bothering me, I change my grip on certain exercises or I remove them temporarily and focus on other less painful variations.
If my knee starts barking at me, I take a break on lower body work for a few days.
When my back (the area that has suffered the most trauma) is really flared up, I know what to remove until it’s settled down again.
I am NEVER without ways to make progress no matter what is bothering me.
Part of this mindset, this arguably more effective mindset, is the ability to not expect perfection from your body.
My client, June, was recently on a skiing trip. A freak accident occurred and she tore her ACL and MCL. Even when she was on crutches and laid up with the injury, she texted me and asked “Are there things I can do for my upper body? Because there’s NO WAY I’m going to stop working out!”
That was music to my ears. Despite what could have been a huge detriment to her training progress, June knew there was another way to keep progress going.
I went through a similar thing with Ken a couple of years ago when he was taking a leisurely run outside of his home and broke his foot. We found a way to work around it.
But what does this mean for you?
Your body will sometimes behave when you ask it to.
Other times, your body will do whatever it damn well pleases despite your not so subtle urges otherwise (ask a dieter how they feel about this!)
Maybe you’re one of the fortunate ones who never or rarely has to deal with an injury in the gym (I envy you, by the way.)
Maybe what you’re dealing with has less to do with what the gym does to you and more to do with your conversations in the mirror.
Do you agonizingly flap your “batwings?”
Are crunches and planks the solution to whittle away at your “muffin top?”
Can any amount of push-ups and bench presses get rid of your “moobs?”
The answer to those questions is typically NOT what people want to hear.
It generally involves some combination of caloric restriction and depending on how your body has changed with the ups-and-downs of weight plus giving birth to children, menopause, etc. you may actually be looking into cosmetic surgery as well.
I would LOVE to tell you that diet and exercise fix everything but that would be dishonest.
Diet and exercise fix a lot but they don’t fix it all.
If you’re anything like me and you feel that aggravating urge to berate your terrible, awful, worthless body (which in reality is none of those things) having a more open dialogue with yourself helps.
If your challenges with your health go beyond a given injury or vulnerability, ask yourself “What within your power can you change?”
If you have “batwings”, how can you continue to modify your eating plan and training plan to focus on overall fat loss (for the physique) and stronger, leaner arms? Are you willing to get cosmetic work for the things that diet and exercise cannot directly change?
Often, we misplace our frustrations with ourselves to the things we cannot change on our own but continue to live in misery with. Or we recognize something is within our control and just opt out and do nothing.
Ultimately, we determine our own misery and frustration with our bodies. If “comparison is the thief of joy”, why are we constantly comparing instead of working on the one thing in this world we actually can change?
So, what I decided to do with my terrible, awful, worthless body was work on it bit by bit. Every day, one fraction of a step closer to something I can be satisfied with.
That journey ends when our lives do which means that every day is a chance to progress. The alternative leads to nowhere (or rather, nowhere appealing.)
Which road are you taking?
“We Make Great People Greater”