Have you ever had this experience? You get all motivated to start exercising again, start a new program, or class and whamo...an injury. I’m not talking about normal muscle soreness from using unused muscles. I’m talking about your back flaring up or your knee pain being activated, or rotator cuff irritation etc. etc. etc. What’s up with that? And how are we supposed to stay in shape when we get in pain every time we exercise. Is this what aging does? UGH!
Let me unpack what I now know with a personal story. A few years ago, I belonged to a gym. A really nice one with great classes and equipment. I tried many of the classes but usually went for barbell strength training classes or yoga basics. Every few months, I would have to stop going because of an “injury.” All these injuries were very real, very painful and would send me back to PT or a chiropractor or just to my bed to rest. Then I would slowly feel a bit better and go back to the class but in a guarded way, slowly building back up in my endurance, until the next injury would take me out again. It might be a few weeks or a few months but it always happened.
Let’s take a look into the mind and self talk of Ann at the gym in those days. “I’ve got to go to barbell class. I’m going to get flabby and out of shape if I don’t.” “Oh damn, look at all these fit women. I’m such a sloth.” No, wait, they are 30 years old. I’m a grandmother for god’s sake. Shouldn’t I be rocking on a front porch?” “They are all friends with each other. I don’t fit in.” “Honestly, I’m not here to have social hour; I’m here to work out.” “I better not lift too much. I might injure myself.” “I better lift more or my muscles will never be firm.” “Are you kidding me? Now they want me to jump around in a barbell class? I came to this to avoid high impact.” “This class is boring me. It’s always the same.” “The music is too loud. I’m so f-ing old.” “Was that a twinge in my back? Oh no! Not again! I can’t be out of commission again.” “I’ll try yoga. It’s supposed to be good for people with back problems.” "Stupid back.” “My body is broken.” “Seriously? Who bends like that?” “OMG I suck at this.”
You get the point here. My gym days were completely covered in self criticisms. It’s no wonder my back or knee would flare up? My body was quite literally saving me from a bully. AND I WASN’T EVEN AWARE THAT I WAS DOING THIS. My self talk was so normal to me that I didn’t see it for the fear-inducing bully it was. NO MORE! I have great compassion for myself. I was doing the best I could. AND now I do better.
Today, I exercise most days of the week. I ONLY exercise in manners that I love and that bring me contentment and happiness while doing it. Yesterday I logged 23,000 steps. I walked six miles in the woods, then went shopping and at night went dancing. No criticism involved. No fear involved. Only love, enjoyment and joy. I wish the same for you.