Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”- C.S.Lewis
I have been thinking a lot lately about how much has changed for me in the last year, inspired by my trainer’s blog post last week. I told him yesterday if I were to write about all that has changed for me in a year it would fill a book; some years are like that. The cool thing is for me, with change comes learning, so there has been a ton of learning happening and it feels really good to be on the other side of change-finally.
When I look back 7 months it is amazing to me that I am in such a better place, both mentally and physically. I could not have wished for a better opportunity. But then again, you can’t just wish for things, you have to make them happen.
NOTHING HAPPENS BY CHANCE
Back in May, I decided I would not give up my strength and conditioning; and if I had to, I would educate myself and train myself-it is an integral part of who I am. I was forced to make a change in training, AND in attitude. I discovered both were incredibly hard. I am grateful for the Internet and my perseverance which led me to Gain Strength and Conditioning and the week that changed everything.
I am not big on ripping off the bandaid, so transitioning to a new gym with a new trainer had enough familiarity of routine to get me in the door; however, in my then state of nervousness and skepticism, I was pretty much a hot mess, filled with self-doubt and lacking confidence. I knew just enough about strength and conditioning to question everything. Changing my attitude was going to be difficult-I wanted to change, I knew I needed to, and things were going to get worse before they got better.
But there were a few things that happened this past summer that made me stick around. First of all, my trainer had confidence and was consistent in his message, but he understood it was important for me to read it for myself; he shared his best resources with me so I could read and research on my own. With reading came more questions, but as I read, I also learned more about Instagram, Crossfit and the Pose Method. I focused less on junk miles and more on running form and conditioning. I also noticed my mood swings fade away, even as my weekly mileage decreased. Yet I ran one of my fastest 5k’s on Jan 1, and easily ran 6-7 miles on consecutive weekends. Even though my trainer is not a “running ” coach, he asked questions about my running-something he wanted to learn more about. He was able to make connections between his world of mobility and my world of running in a way that made sense.
But really, sharing his books with me changed everything. Not only was the gesture sincere, he truly understood how important it was for me to read it for myself and not just take his word for it. I began to learn that it is not about lifting heavy and running fast and far. I developed a new appreciation for understanding how my body parts are connected and move and the importance of position and form in everything from standing to squatting. With this new awareness I had to make much fewer visits to my chiropractor, and I began to appreciate rest and recovery days, a good night’s sleep, and hydration, all of which contributed to my overall sense of well being and contentment.
The next big game changer was when he offered to train me for a race-and to go through the training program himself AND run the race with me. Who does that? The training was hard, and the race was hard, but it was worth it. I began to appreciate the coach-athlete relationship more and gained a new understanding of the give and take. Trying to remember it is not always “taking” on my part.
Aside from learning how to learn in a new way, the second half of my year in the gym taught me how to become increasingly more independent. I went from being scolded by my previous trainer about asking how heavy the barbells were that were literally handed to me in April, to setting up my own squat bar on a rack and trying to figure out how to add weight to it, and deciding whether or not to add more weight. Moving to a new gym with a new trainer becoming more independent was my number one goal! I am getting my self confidence back and feel more in control of not only my training, but my life as well. I appreciate having a strength and conditioning professional who is watching over my progress and keeping an eye on my form and technique, but I also appreciate being able to ask questions that help me to learn and grow and make decisions on my own in the gym and in life.
Summer was stressful for me, and I finally understand the relationship between stress and working out. Stress is stress, whether it is emotional or physical, and your body can only handle so much. I was able to finish out 2015 in a positive place because I finally stopped fighting my body and mind. Maybe it was the conversation in the kitchen at work with a colleague about the “monkey mind,” maybe it was deciding to let go of the GPS watch and go for a run in the woods, or maybe it was recognizing the “spiral of doom” and figuring out how to avoid it, but I finally, finally am able to recognize signs of stress and am practicing having a positive mental attitude when dealing with stressful situations. It all goes back to having a sense of control over life, which goes back to feeling strong and confident.
I also learned how to be with other people at the gym. After years of 1:1 personal training in my own little world, the supportive environment at Gain has allowed me to ease into working out with other people. It’s still out of my comfort zone, but I am learning how to adjust and adapt to my new environment. Once again, I am finding control over my space and my life, and feel empowered to make decisions on my own.
WE’RE DOING THIS BECAUSE YOU SUCK AT IT
But overall, I think the biggest change has been in my attitude toward embracing things I am not good at. My perfectionist self gets in the way of learning sometimes; these Justin quotes keep my ego in check:
Why should you spend time doing something you are already good at?”
It’s not supposed to be easy.”
And so I have learned to look forward to practicing for progress, not perfection. I have learned that nothing is easy, and that there is always something to work on. I love that I am never bored. And change is hard, but inevitable; you can either use it and learn from it, or go home.