Sunday, February 3, 2013


They can jump out at us any time --- setbacks

No one and no time of year are immune.  Summer travels, family illness, a stressful time at work, and -- the holiday season.  You are probably getting back into your regular routine now that the holidays are over and I want to make sure your fitness routine is a part of it.

Injury is another possible setback -- and that is the one I'm dealing with right now.

It seems I've had some kind of sciatic problem for some time now that first causes symptoms right after the New Year.  So, instead of regaining the fitness momentum that I lost in November and December, I'm nursing this injury.  For the first week or so, I was bed- and couch-bound on and off.  I wasn't even able to sit at my computer without feeling discomfort that quickly became painful. Since then, I've thankfully been able to get back on my feet and into the gym to train others. 

Whether they are external life-driven setbacks or internal physical setbacks, there's often no way to prevent or avoid them.  More often than not, it just simply isn't possible.  Your family members are going to need help.  Your job is going to get busy.  Holiday breaks can't - and shouldn't - be ignored.  The real key is to bounce back in a reasonable way after setbacks do occur.  In my case, this is going to be a painfully slow process of limping around, painfully basic stretches, and embarrassingly low weights.

The key to external life-driven setbacks is to get yourself going again once the thing that slowed you down is gone.  Sure, work is going to get busy, but did you get right back on the horse when things slowed down again?  You likely won't be at 100% on the first day back, which is just fine.  But you should be right back where you left off within a week or two.  

The real key in dealing with physical setbacks can be a bit more tricky.  You really have to listen to your body.  I could tell that first day of symptoms that something wasn't right.  I suspected I had body aches that come along with the flu bug that had been going around at the time.  My best guess at the time could not have been more wrong -- but my action could not have been more right.  I knew I needed to rest.  So, I cancelled my remaining clients for the morning, let my day job know I'd be in late that morning, and went straight home to rest.  After a few hours of rest on my couch, it was clear I wouldn't make it in that day at all.

And now, it seems, I'm in for a much longer recovery phase, too.  Once the doc clears me for exercise, I'll be headed to my favorite physical therapist.  It may be a single session or a whole program of it -- we'll see when that time comes.  And then, I'll take over and have to train myself for a while.  I keep telling people that my first few weeks of training sessions will be fun to watch -- and not for the reason I'd like them to be.  The weight will be comically light if I'm using weight at all.  It will be funny to watch a relatively strong guy life so little weight and do so with effort.  And after, I'll be forced to stretch quite a bit.  But, that's how injury recovery goes.  Like so many other things in the gym, we have to check our egos at the door and do what is right for us. I won't be able to do my squats, deadlifts, and weighted lunges for some time and that's just the way it is going to be. 

But, my point in writing this post is this:  We all have setbacks.  Death and taxes.  And setbacks.  They happen.  All we can do is make absolutely sure that we get back on that horse again when the body is ready to do it.  So often, I hear stories about how someone was going great - going to the gym regularly and eating healthy.  Then, some thing happens that stops the momentum.  Maybe it's an external setback like an illness in the family.  Or, maybe it's an injury like the one I'm dealing with.  The setback should have been limited to a few weeks or a few months.  But, in these stories, years have transpired and the program is toast. 

Great health programs aren't lost when everything is great -- they are lost when something comes up to get in the way.  Don't let that be you.  Don't be the person who used to exercise when they were younger -- but the one who's only missed a few weeks here and there.  You'll be happy you did. 

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