First things first: forgive me for getting that song by Whitesnake (yes, that’s the name!) in your head. But, big fluffy 80s hair aside, it’s honestly the first phrase (followed by inevitable song) that came to my mind when I pondered what to name this first post. Well, first post in what we can maybe call “Round Two” of my fitness journey. [hangs head in pseudo-shame while realizing that no one, least of all yours truly, is perfect, and that’s a good thing to acknowledge]
I am resurrecting this blog, my training journal, the heart and soul of my love affair with weight lifting, as I embark on a new, serious (as in very dedicated) 12-week training program this week.
Let me tell you how I found my new Coach. (I don’t know why I’m compelled to Capitalize the word Coach, but I am. I’m not trying to turn my Coach into a deity, but, I feel like that Capital C affords the necessary reverence I must express when I talk about this professional who is going to be involved in my journey of (hopefully no blood) sweat (and probably some tears).
I found Suzanne a.k.a. New Coach, when I “happened upon” an article that she wrote on the popular fitness website Health Habits. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the article, but the title: The Truth About Feminine Fitness, was glorious in and of itself. After reading the article, I realized that here was a woman who knew her stuff and was passionate about her vocation as a woman lifter, a mentor, and a personal trainer. I sort of timidly found her blog, like a shy kid hiding behind mamma’s coat, started poking around, and began liking more and more what I was seeing. After some initial inquiries and a fantastic positive vibe even through the virtual sphere of the often impersonal online world, Suzanne told me that she was just starting up her Fierce Def training group for intermediate women lifters.
You know how that saying goes, “When you’re ready, the teacher will appear?”
Well, folks, trust me: it’s truth. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. So, there’s that.
But maybe I should back up just a second. Why is the last blog post dated September 2012? Sigh.
That was the month I started going out more, and met some friends who wanted to “bring me out of my shell” and in socializing more, my clean eating started to slide, and my very admirable water-and-green-tea-only drinking turned into bright orange tumblers full of Aperol and prosecco, a popular drink here in Rome. Meanwhile, a few weeks later, the young woman who was living with me to help me with my children abruptly left, and for various reasons both financial and personal, I decided not to replace her. That left me with a gaping hole where a bit of free time had once been.
As with dedicated weight training, so goes the “falling off the wagon,” at least it did with me: cumulative effect. It doesn’t happen all at once. This might sound silly, but I honestly remember the time I drank that first alcoholic drink that wasn’t part of my weekly “cheat meal” at my new, fun friend’s house. Not like it was taboo because it had alcohol and could possibly procure me a buzz (pshaw, Italians never drink to get drunk anyways), but because I was thinking of the carbs in the mixer and felt sort of strange about drinking it. And then another after that. You see, I hadn’t given up drinking alcohol when I would go out, while I was training. I had just taken to drinking plain vodka on the rocks with a twist of lemon, and that was a guilt-free drink for a fun night out.
Yes, people. This is what I am talking about. This is where I was at.
Like you might have seen on those corny 80s TV ads about the War on Drugs, perhaps that bright orange drink and my Brazilian bombshell friend’s pleas to “Come on! Let’s have fun!” was my gateway into falling off the fitness wagon. I was stressed, overworked, trying to mother my three kids without any help, blah blah blah blah … frankly, it was easy to just let one slip turn into another, let one missed workout become two, and so on and so forth, until after a while, I wasn’t even going to the gym anymore and at that point, what would another few butter cookies with tea before bed matter anyways?
And so, folks, here I am. Nearly two years later (holy crap, how time flies), after having eaten whatever I wanted, basically whenever I wanted, and not really having been to the gym in about at all, with a few stops and starts. Lost. Utterly, completely lost. Lost strength. Lost motivation. Lost pride in my newly-acquired discipline. Lost energy. Lost hope. Lost self-esteem. And the list goes on.
Cumulative. What goes up, comes down in the same manner. Not overnight, but over time, almost imperceptibly, until your awesome outfits are too tight to look nice anymore, and you feel it. You feel that lethargic, “ick” feeling.
But this is what I’m here to say: no matter. Forgiveness is part of this journey. You see, in this two-year hiatus, I had a lot of other “stuff” to work out, especially on the post-divorce psychological/mental well-being/emotional + relationships level. I spent my time dating man after unavailable man, searching for impossible love to fill the gaping wound in my heart and punishing myself by thinking that it was my fault no one “wanted” to give this to me. And so, just like I discovered sides of myself and my deeply-embedded inner strength in the weight room, through these varied and difficult relationship experiences, I discovered sides of myself that I needed to care for and tend to and heal in ways that the weights simply wouldn’t cure.
So here I am, back again to start this journey anew, with more tools under my belt and with ever more humility and compassion, both for myself and for fellow travelers on this path.
We are strong, and we are strong in and out of the weight room, on or off the wagon, so long as we don’t ever forget where we belong. When we fall, we can always get back up. It sounds clichè, I know, but here’s the thing: if you don’t get back up when you fall, you stay down. It’s as simple as that. Excuses can go on a lifetime, but until we make the dedicated choice to make this lifestyle a priority, and until we realize that, if weights are “our thing” and we’ve discovered that, we can leave them and they’ll always be there waiting for us to get back and show them what we can really accomplish… well. That’s where my trust and faith are right now. That’s really all I have at this point are trust and faith. And twelve weeks ahead. Eighty-four days.
Am I nervous? Hell fucking yes. Oh my God. I am intimidated. I feel sort of like a total poser, because even though I was fairly bad ass two years ago, now I’m just back to my good old pre-training softness. I question if I’m ready to embark on this again… you see, now I know what it takes. The mental aspect of this game is almost more crucial than the actual physical output. This is a battle that goes on within the mind, within the realm of what is possible and what I think is possible, within the realm of what I say I want and what I actually go out and do. This is a test of wills between me and myself.
Is that scary? Well, frankly: yes. To me—yes, it is.
But scary in that “I’m nervous for a first date with a guy I really like” way. In that “morning before the 4th grade spelling bee” way, after I spent days studying all the words printed in the newspaper and feel fairly certain I can at least make it through the words bittersweet, and beautify, and barbell.
Week one. I’m still part of this club. Why? Because: I’m showing up. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. It’s all downhill from here. Join me for the ride.