If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this process, it’s that the journey to fitness is full of peaks and valleys. There are days you’re on top of the world and days you feel like giving up. It’s the hardest thing to stay committed when you see no light at the end of the tunnel, feel no hope that what you’re doing is making a difference. You slip up, maybe one bad meal or a few too many drinks, then you miss a workout, and one bad day becomes a few. The best case scenario is that you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and you get back on track. The worst case scenario is that you forget why you started in the first place.
I hurt my knee a couple of weeks ago and had to take some time off from the gym, which is literally the hardest thing for me to do. The gym is my happy place; other than my house, it’s where I feel most at home. It’s the place where I’ve built upon my training and seen the fruits of my labor and pushed myself harder than I knew I could go. It’s where I’ve empowered myself to change. It’s been my temple, my sanctuary. But for the past few weeks, it’s been off-limits. I couldn’t risk hurting myself further. The problem is, I don’t just go to the gym for my physical health. It’s also where I go to release my stress and clear my head. I’m a naturally anxious person, and my worries are often irrational and often calmed by cardio. No cardio = unhappy Courtney.
Throughout the past year and a half there have been many ups and downs. I’ve felt on top of the world after achieving certain goals. I’ve cheered myself on and believed in myself for so much of the time. There have been times I’ve lost my way, but I’ve found it rather quickly. Not this time. The past few weeks I felt in a bit of a tailspin, feeling more and more out of control. When one thing goes wrong, everything seems to go wrong. The other day I sat in bewilderment, wondering how I have gotten this far and lost so much weight, because I felt like I had lost it. Whatever drive I had was gone; I had misplaced it somewhere. I looked everywhere for it but I couldn’t figure out who that person was who had made all the positive changes and become this new amazing person. I was so confused, so lost. And worst of all, I was ashamed. When I was growing up, I only got myself into trouble a few times, but I always remember my parents saying, “we’re not mad, we’re disappointed.” It was the worst feeling. I would rather that they screamed and yelled and were mad. The disappointment was hard to fix. And I’ve now learned the only thing worse than feeling that I’ve disappointed my parents is that I’ve disappointed myself.
I kept thinking, I can’t do this. Then I remembered a little trick I have to get myself to do things I think I can’t do. I replace “can’t” with “don’t want to” whenever I think I can’t do something. 99% of the time, something you think you CAN’T do is just something you don’t know how to do because it’s too hard or you don’t know how. Truth is, if you really want it bad enough, you CAN do it. By replacing “can’t” with “don’t want to” it allows me to decide if I really do want to do something. I realized I kept telling myself, “I can’t workout,” “I can’t remember why I started,” “I can’t get back on track.” So I replaced the words and told myself, I don’t want to work out. I don’t want to remember why I started. I don’t want to get back on track. And you know what? Those statements were untruthful. I did want all of those things. And so I made decisions to change the outcome. I realized I could workout, I just had to focus on things that wouldn’t aggravate my knee. I could remember why I started, I just had to silence my inner critic. And I could get back on track, because I wanted it more than anything. Turn every “I can’t” into an “I can” by practicing how the sentence sounds starting with “I don’t want to.” The statements will sound a lot different, I assure you. It might be enough to get you back on track if you ever lose your way, because it has definitely worked for me.
My knee has slowly been healing and I’ve finally been able to return to the gym. I’m doing a new plan which focuses more on lifting than on cardio, and I’ve been slowly regaining my strength. I have re-read my blog posts and realized that this is all part of the plan. I remembered not to focus so much on my end goal, and to focus on the day-to-day. I’ve decided to reinvent the wheel again. I’ve realized this is a setback and not an ending. I’m taking it one step at a time, taking each day as it comes. Because I know that to become the best version of me, which I’m always working towards, it takes a series of small healthy choices and positive steps in the right direction. One bad day, or several bad weeks, cannot undo the progress I’ve made. I may have gained a few pounds over the past few weeks, but I’ve made a great change in my life by accumulating a series of small changes, and the progress cannot be undone. Because I won’t let it happen.
And of course, all of this just happened to coincide with the exact time of starting my blog, which I have hoped will be useful to other people like me who are struggling with similar issues of health and fitness. I was so upset that I had fallen off track when I had promoted this whole healthy lifestyle image. I felt like a phony. But when I turned to my sisters and friends for guidance and support, they encouraged me to talk about it on here. Because it’s REAL. This is what it’s like. This is life. This is part of the journey. It’s rarely smooth sailing. That’s part of what makes it worth doing…it’s a challenge, and we all need to be challenged to grow (or shrink, depending on how you look at it!)
I may not feel like a million bucks again yet, but I remember why I started, and I remember why I’ve been doing this all along. My bewilderment has subsided and I feel like myself again. My new and improved self. Truthfully, I can find the positive in this situation, because I’ve better prepared myself for the next setback. In life, they will come. I’ve weathered this minor injury and now I know I’m better prepared for whatever comes next. If you’re on this journey, don’t give up. Look at every setback as a temporary obstacle and not the end. No matter how tough it the road is, you’ve gotta keep forging on in the right direction. It’s the only route worth taking.
Have you ever wondered how you’ve gotten so far or doubted your accomplishments? What do you do to get back on track?