My trainer Matt Wenning told me something in my early days at Ludus Magnus that I will never forget. I said that I was really surprised at how good a workout I was having that day, since I had been feeling stiff and sore before coming to the gym.
He said, “Never judge how a workout is going to go based on how you feel.”
Boom. Mind blown, grey matter everywhere.
Turns out, I don’t have to want to do something in order to do it. I don’t have to “feel” motivated. I don’t have to “feel” my best. I just have to physically pick my body up and go do it. Once I get into motion, my mind will usually catch up and want to be wherever I am, doing whatever it is I’m doing. Even if my mind doesn’t get with the program every single time, that doesn’t matter. It matters what I actually do, not how I feel about it.Continue reading “Motivation is Overrated”→
There’s an old parable often referred to as the “streetlight effect,” that goes something like this:
A policeman comes across a drunkard searching for his car keys under a streetlight. Neither can kind the keys. The policeman asks the drunkard if he lost his keys in this spot. The drunkard replies, “No, I lost them in the park.”
“The park?” The policeman responds. “Then why are you looking here?”
The drunkard responds: “This is where the light is.”
When dealing with a problem, we often do the same thing. We look where the light is because it’s the most obvious thing we can see. But sometimes the light is misleading.
As I described in part 1 of Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass, the “light” was coming off my back in waves: I had a bulging disc in my lower back. I had signs of arthiritis in my back. The pain was in my back. Stands to reason that I, and all of the health professionals around me, were focused on my back.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my journey to strength training at Ludus Magnus began with back pain. Chronic, limiting, debilitating back pain.
I lived with it every day. Some days it was a low-level ache, a kind of white noise that lingered in the background of my daily movements. Other days, I would have recurring spasms in my low back, accompanied by sharp stabbing pain in my ass cheeks that radiated through my hips and down my legs.
In hospitals and doctors’ offices they have pain rating scales such as this where they ask patients to assign a number to their pain level:
I lived between 4 and 9. Even with chiropractic care and massage therapy 1-3 times per week, daily ibuprofen, regular stretching, and multiple icing sessions per day, it never got better than 4. Continue reading “Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass”→
Sometimes on leg day, I feel like I’m going to die. But so far, I have lived to tell the tale each time.
The key word is “feel.” My feelings are not facts. Just because I feel like I am going to die doesn’t mean that I am in fact dying.
I once heard someone I greatly admire say, “My feelings are real, but they are not reality.” I totally missed that memo. I have lived a good chunk of my life ruled by my feelings. If I felt something, that meant it was true, and I had to react to it.
I’m also someone who has dealt with anxiety and panic. When it comes to the “fight or flight” instinct, I’m pretty much all about flight. When something is uncomfortable, or scary, or overwhelming, my first instinct is to run from it as fast as I can. It feels like I can’t handle it. It feels like I won’t make it through. It feels like I am going to die.
Something to know about me: I’m a crier. Always have been. I cry when I’m sad, angry, happy, you name it. A giant reservoir of tears lurks just below my eyeballs, ready to burst forth at any moment for any reason. This trait has not always served me well, but I’ve accepted it as part of who I am. I’m a history geek, I love the Foo Fighters, I find all things fat-free repulsive, I cry. It’s part of the package.
I hit a new level with my crying after five months training with Matt at Ludus Magnus.
I cried over situps. Genuine, heart-felt tears of joy. Over situps.
I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Always have been since I was a small child. It runs so deep, it’s like an infinite onion: every time I think I’ve peeled off a layer, there’s another one lurking underneath.
All or nothing thinking leads to perfectionism, and the crippling anxiety and shame that comes with it.
“If I can’t do it perfectly, then I shouldn’t do it at all.”
By Summer 2014, this was the situation in which I found myself:
I injured my back at work in January of that year. An MRI showed a bulging disc in my lower spine, L5 to be exact. I returned to work after six weeks off, but I was in constant pain. I ate ibuprofen like tic-tacs to get through the day, and then came home and laid on ice packs. I was seeing a chiropractor for adjustments and massage every week. I was stretching, going for walks, and occasionally swimming, but my recovery would not progress past a certain point. My quality of life was in the toilet; I was surviving, not living. Continue reading “Patient Zero”→