What happens to a body when you go a few weeks off working out? Well, I’ll tell you what happens: it reverts back to its soft, mushy, unsolid form. It protests when you make it move in the ways that– just 14 days prior- were familiar, getting easier, almost fun.
This week has not been fun.
Getting back on the fix has proven a mental and physical challenge. While reverting back to the eating plan has caused relatively little distress, other than the endless hunger that accompanies the first week for me and the detox that invariably occurs from eating whole food and going off any refined or processed anything, I didn’t expect the physical angst that would come. While the Total Cardio Fix didn’t cause my legs to feel like they were so damaged that I would heretofore need some kind of hoverboard for transportation until I could recover, the pain was pretty intense. There was a dull ache walking up and down the stairs the next morning, an ache that progressed with the day. My abs hurt when I reached or moved or, in one unfortunate incident, sneezed.
Getting back into the swing of things is hard.
My body wanted me to quit. The day after we started back, I went to work and daydreamed about not working out. I had a long and stressful day, and working out seemed like one more thing to add to a too full-plate. I started to provide these rationales as to why I didn’t need to walk up the three flights of stairs to class, or to work, that it was okay to just wallow around in my pain.
Pain. Let me stall on that for a second. “Pain” at that moment was serving as this functional reminder of how I had made a choice to pause my workouts not for the week I intended, but two weeks. In those two weeks, a body with 37 years of pretty solid lackadaisical muscle memory was like “yep! She’s done! Oreo buffets for everyone!” Because let’s face it, that was my MO. And on Tuesday, I was willing to talk myself out of not working out.
Now, to be fair, I had a really rough day on Tuesday, and a migraine, plus a pretty stiff work/school day that made me not get home until really late. I still could have gotten in a workout, but I let myself take the easy road because I’m a wimp.
Wednesday came. I made a deal with myself: I’m not going to give up. I could hear this inner quitter, the one that was kind of wanting me to quit, the one that was like “but dude, your legs hurt worse today and you didn’t even do anything yesterday” get mad and stomp her foot and think some pretty nasty thoughts about me.
“But it’s leg day,” some other lazy inner voice whined. I put on my workout clothes and I did the damn workout.
Was it fun? No. Did I feel better after? Absolutely.
My legs felt better the next day, which I knew they would. I walked up all the flights of stairs, I came home and did Pilates. My husband and I joked that Autumn really should be meaner. I made up some things she could say, like “Stop thinking about donuts.” And “hey, you. Don’t be such a lazy bitch. Get over here and do some scissor kicks before your high blood pressure and general apathy for your health and well-being kills you.”
But, thankfully that’s not Autumn. She gets you through it, even when you don’t want to show up. “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever” is a mantra that seems like the kind of cheesy thing you’d find on the cover of a self-help book or just some inspirational meme, but in some respects, it rings true. Quitting can become a cycle of forevers because pain is hard. Pain means we are suffering through something, we are going through a loss or agony or woe. For me, working out is a type of pain that’s not just physical: it means surrendering fully to a lifestyle that is built around pushing myself physically and, in some ways, emotionally. It means making choices about my time and how I spend it, and the pain of knowing that no, I can’t eat some Oreos and sit around and watch TV tonight because I’ve made a choice to revise my lifestyle permanently. Does that mean that every decision I make is going to be perfect always? Well, judging by the last week: absolutely not.
But, does it mean that I’m going to try? Of that, I’m pretty certain. Pain is temporary, after all.