Tomorrow I hit ‘restart.’ A month and a half has passed since I last lifted a heavy weight. And I won’t lift heavy tomorrow either, or for a while. The surgery was only two and a half weeks ago and if I learned only one thing in all this, it’s to respect my limits.
But I will at least be getting back into a gym which will feel so good, I’ll be learning how my new trainer works, and learning how my body works now in this new reality. I know I’ve lost strength, and you don’t lose 7 pounds when you were 15% bodyfat to start without losing muscle, and I could weep for that muscle that took so many months to build. I’ve done a couple of very light workouts at home in my garage (where I could also weep every time I see the squat cage I bought at Christmas) and have alternated between glee at just moving my body again again and dismally humbled at how hard everything is now. I’m doing modified push-ups, chin-ups with a band, the lightest of the light weights on bench and curls, doing the mobility work I began with in my earliest days — in short, returning to being a beginner. The blessing and the curse is that while I know I can get strong again, I also know how hard it will be. So I can cry about doing assisted chin-ups, or I can be glad I’m not still curled up in a ball of pain crying about a real problem.
I also need a mental restart. I’ve spent a lot of energy being mad, and lately, sad, that I can’t powerlift any more. While I was a free weights-loving, barbell-loading lifter I, with lots of others in that community, sneered at machines and isolated movements. Sometimes it’s like the universe just smacks you in the head for being a jerk, because machines and isolated movements are what I can do now. And I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I couldn’t be any less excited about using a leg press. In fact, I’m pretty cranky about it. There’s nothing fun or incredible or amazing about lying down pushing a stack of weight with your feet. But I’m not willing to give up being strong, so if a leg press is what I can do, then by God, I’ll find out just how much weight I can move. When it’s time. And I’ll use whatever combination of things I have to do to work all the same muscles the squat and deadlift worked. And I’ll have to find a way to make it fun, not just a chore. I know I won’t have the passion I had for the barbell, but seriously, I should be grateful I can do anything at all after what I went through.
And besides, that’s why I’m going to try new sports. Strength will become a means to an end, not the the goal in and of itself. I don’t know yet how I’m going to accomplish this mental restart, and if you have any suggestions I’d sure like to hear them. I want to learn to measure my worth as an athlete not in numbers on a barbell (or machine, as the case may be) but in how I feel and how my body responds to challenges. And I want to have fun, just plain, no-pressure, no agonizing over Wilkes scores, playing like it’s recess, fun.