We all go through those phases when we don’t train. Maybe we are faced with injury –knee, shoulder, back, Achilles, groin. Maybe it’s a grade 2, just enough to keep us out for 6 weeks, or maybe its surgery with a long recovery time. Maybe its just life; a few tough months on the road, sales targets getting harder to meet, a family illness or maybe financial issues mounting up. Whatever it is, over our lives, we have all been there a bunch of times.
At the lowest ebb of that period comes a choice we all have to make. The fear of return versus the obvious advantages of doing so. For some of us, including heavy lifters, cross fitters, combat sportsmen, those sports where you really feel the time away from the gym in reduced performance and the pain of going heavy again or facing another person trying to choke you who hasn’t had a lay-off, fear is a factor. And that annoys us more, because we know that, when the sun is shining, the wind is blowing and the sky is clear, we fear nothing made by man. This is a feeling that, cruelly, only comes when it knows it can beat you, when you are at your weakest. We know we should return, but, maybe lets do it next week. And the weeks roll on.
The reality is that life rarely brings you free lemonade. Nobody gets through their lives without pain and pressure. The process of being born hurts, falling over hurts, breaking limbs hurts, getting fired hurts, losing money hurts, relationship breakdown hurts, sports injury hurts, aging hurts and ultimately, the final period of our lives will hurt too. The pressure we put on ourselves through our lives hurts too – we work hard, we suffer, we provide, we endure, all because we are men and that is our function. Because we should. When we get older, very rarely can someone come and kiss our problems better.
Fear of this continual flow of change and pressure is neither helpful nor right to us to feel. We create fear in our minds, through our anticipation and imagination of an event that has not occurred and its possible consequences. We imagine that when we get back to training, we will break, we will fail, we will not be what we were. We imagine the result of that – we will feel worse, we will take longer to recover. We want to live forever and to be as strong as we once were, forever. We fear anything that threatens this or makes it feel more permanent for us.
Conquering this phase and overcoming requires a recognition of two simple truth. Firstly, this cycle of pain and pressure will never end. It will come and it will go for our entire lives. We will rise from one challenge, get comfortable, and another one will try to take us down. Our fitness will cycle all through our lives. We will be fat, and thin, and strong, and weak. We will be mentally down and mentally up. And why would we even want things to always stay the same? It was fear that gave us strength and achievement in our lives. It was adversity that gave us strength and an unwillingness to ever back down. Because we know we can. Why would we wish that away? These challenging times, when you are 20 pounds over your goal weight – these are gifts, invitations.
Secondly, we are, at our core, nothing other than the moments in our lives; our feelings, our senses, our bodies, and the realities that we construct in our minds. There is no ever present, unchanging notion of “you” that will keep you alive, and thin, and safe, and strong, without a commitment to doing something now. What you do now, after reading this blog, matters. So do something – if its late, do 20 push-ups, if its mid-morning, lift some weights, go for a long walk at lunch. If you can’t train, go easy on the carbs, go easy on the drink. Do something.
Because at the end of the day, the fear you are creating, the unwillingness to grow and develop yourself, its all being created by you. And the anxiety and fear you feel as you lace up your shoes, or grab your gloves, or your gi, will arise and it will pass. And you will be stronger for it. You will be one of us. You will be Old Man Strong.