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When Life Hands You Lemons, How To Still Make It Through Your Workout

Two weeks ago I set out for a run and I immediately felt like something was wrong. Everything just felt off and tired and tight. You know that kids song that goes “The knee bone’s connected to the shin bone…”? I couldn’t help but sing that in my head because every muscle felt like it was working separately and against the other muscles. So I stopped to stretch thinking maybe my legs just tightened up during my previous workout more than I thought. As I began to run again I felt a little better but not enough to tackle the 1 minute sprint intervals I had planned. Something was just off and I was scared if I pushed too hard I would injure myself. I decided to take it a little easier on myself and at least attempt 30 second sprint intervals.  These still didn’t feel great but by taking the intensity down a notch and running slower than normal it was doable.  Considering I’m 5lbs heavier than I like to maintain and that I haven’t been on my regular workout schedule for 4 months now I really wanted to do something more even if I couldn’t push with my regular intensity.  As I continued my run I got a little depressed at how far off my fitness was from what I like it to be.  This run is just another sign of how grief has been affecting my body.

I’ve been dealing with overwhelming grief since April when my big brother passed after a traumatic 2 month struggle with cancer. To say I’m heartbroken is an understatement. He was not only my big brother but also my best friend. I’ve never had someone so close to me pass so this is my first real experience with the grief process and it is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever been through. Between feeling fatigued every day, my want for comfort food and my want to sit at home and either mope or cry, every single workout has been a major struggle to get through.  I have a few more comfort meals a week than I should and sometimes I sit at home in between clients feeling exhausted and sad, even though I know I need to get up and workout before I run out of time before my next client.  Many times I crave the mental release and peaceful alone time of my run but once I’m out there I’m broken down crying. This has forced me to restrict my runs to my surrounding neighborhood so as not to look like a lunatic sobbing on the Katy trail. I don’t know what it is about running but it will make me cry every damn time. I can be just fine then boom! Sometimes it’s just tearing up, other times I’m wondering if the people inside the house I’ve stopped in front of see me and wonder who the weirdo is crying on their sidewalk.  I’m also no longer my chipper self at the gym that I use for my personal workouts.  I wonder if all the gym regulars that I chat with there can tell something is wrong with me when I’m dragging myself through my workouts with a frown on my face and my head drooped between my legs in between sets.  Worst of all, I feel like a fraud to my clients.  I preach to them about making their health a priority and giving their workouts and diets 100% so that they are in the best shape they can be and yet I’ve consistently been half-assing my workouts everyday and eating crap more often than I’d like to admit.  I don’t feel like I’m giving them a good example of what to do with their health and that is heartbreaking to me too.

It would be really easy to let this become a very bad cycle of disappointment and self-loathing that would only lead to less motivation to be healthy but I’ve told myself I can’t do that.  Just because life sucks right now doesn’t mean I have to let that affect every other part of my life.  There is no point in letting my health go down the drain just because I’m sad and I know that would only make me feel much worse.  So I’ve chosen to minimize the effects of my grief by giving myself a little patience and understanding.  I need to be a little less hard on myself while I’m going through this so I’ve promised myself these things:

-Even if I waste some of my workout time being upset, I will not use that as an excuse to not get up and use the rest of my time the best as I can.  So if I’m left with 20 minutes I take less breaks between sets and do more exercises back to back without stopping.

-I will at the very least cut my portion sizes down when I eat.  If I’m eating junk, I’ll at least limit the portion.  Here’s a great guide on WebMD for eyeballing appropriate portion sizes.

-Lastly, I will cut back on my drinking.  I think it goes without saying that this not only packs on extra pounds but it exaggerates all my emotions making me feel worse.

I really wanted to write this incredibly personal and humbling post in the hopes that any others going through something similar where it feels as if your every day is being affected by giant emotions, be it grief, stress, sadness, heartbreak or whatever else, can take some comfort in the fact that not everyone is perfect.  Even personal trainers fall off the wagon and have a hard time picking themselves back up.  I just keep telling myself that I need to keep pushing forward every day because every workout I get through makes me that much better, even if just by a little.  Consistency prevents me from sliding so far back that I create another major problem for myself. And one day, I will get back to normal.