You are in the perfect position to get thereHalfway through the second circuit of my leg workout today I knew I was in trouble.

And by trouble, I mean: I felt out of shape.

I worried I was going to pull a hamstring during some relatively light squats (I didn’t, thank goodness). Then I was pretty sure I was gonna do a face plant during box jumps. It was like my legs no longer knew how to jump up onto the measly-for-me 10-inch platform. It was scary (and embarrassing).


Tackling the stairs (going up AND down) is already a chore a couple hours later. Pretty sure tomorrow I’ll be in full FML mode.

I have some tips on getting back in shape — on starting over — below. But first I have to rant (whine?) a little bit, and maybe my clients will get a kick out of their trainer feeling the same way they’ve felt on occasion.

Starting over is humbling.

Before I started writing this blog post, I thought, ‘hmmm …. maybe I need to find an inspirational quote.’ So I looked some up online.

Guess what I saw?

A whole lot of fitness shaming, that’s what.

  • “Sick of starting over? Stop quitting!”
  • “Don’t you dare give up!”
  • “Do not be upset by the results you did not get by the work that you did not do.”

Helpful hint, judgy judgers: There’s nothing inspirational about being shamed. Especially when accompanied with fitspo pix of sweaty Photoshopped chicks wearing panties while doing squats. (Yes, I wrote “panties.” #sorrynotsorry)

Sometimes, yes, we fall off our routines because we slack off. Other times we fall off because of life.

But for grownups, there’s no shame in any of that. Shit happens. And we own our shit. Then, we get up and move again.

That being said, this might be my biggest “starting-over” bout in almost a decade. There is long list of reasons for my current situation. And, yes, they are reasons, not excuses. I’ve been battling terrible migraines, I’ve had hip and shoulder injuries that have made me less than excited about working out (pain sucks!), and more.

I have taken it easy and cut way back on my strength-training workouts during this period because I had to. And yes I am working on a blog post about how to cope when your body doesn’t cooperate, stay tuned! But this one begged to be written first. Why?

Because I was starting to question myself.

Confession: I had a private get-real moment about all this a couple weeks ago, before today’s leg workout almost did me in.

I wasn’t going to tell anyone about this moment, but maybe I should. It happened when I was training a client and we approached the squat rack for an exercise I had planned for them to do. I saw that someone had left a fully-loaded barbell way up high, above my head.

A year ago I would have reached up and stripped down the bar myself and then later reminded the person who left it there to put their weights away.

But this time I looked at the bar and felt defeated. I didn’t want to spend the energy (or shoulder pain) removing the 45-lb plates. So, instead, I changed up my client’s workout. In my own defense I’m 5’2″ and 112 pounds, and maybe it’s normal that breaking down a bar and moving more than twice my body weight from above my head held no interest to me.

That’s not normal for me, though. Normally, I feel glad that I can do that kind of thing. But this time, I felt beaten. And then I wondered why I was even training my client. I felt like a fraud.

(I got over that fast, but still, the thought was there.)

Anyway, between that feeling of defeat and then getting my butt kicked by today’s workout, I’m wondering if it might take a while to lift myself up from this “out of shape” situation. It will require more than my usual m.o. of hitting it hard for a couple weeks, mostly because I’m not sure I’m capable of hitting it hard enough.

(And no, I will not put your weights away for you. Loading and unloading your bars is part of your workout. 🙂 )

End of rant/whining.

Patience, grasshopper

Warning: if this next part comes across as a lecture, it’s because I’m lecturing myself, not you.

What’s the first thing you have to do when you start over?

First, you have to do something. But probably less than you think.

Less can be a very hard thing to do, especially when you’re used to functioning at a higher level than your body is presently tuned for. You have to let go of your ego. If you’re used to crushing a high-volume workout (lots of sets/reps),  you have to be OK with (or at least temporarily accept) doing fewer sets and reps with less intensity.

Less can be hard when you want results — you will be tempted to double up on workouts to speed the process. The thing to remember is that the magic happens between workouts. Recovery is a vital and often disregarded part of the process.

You can’t look at the amount of weight on the bar. You have to look at the quality of movement.

And you have to know that even if it’s half of what you used to do, it’s still a workout.

Those are the things I’m going to be telling myself over the next few months. I already know I’m going to be tempted to crank hard as soon as possible. Fortunately, I’ve kept my cardiovascular fitness and my agility/speed. It’s the strength that’s suffering. That’s going to be my priority (along with eating a diet aimed at beating inflammation).

Are you starting over?

It’s the season for fresh starts. As summer winds down, many of us start longing for our old routines. Almost all of my clients this week have been talking about their renewed commitment to fitness and sound nutrition.

How about you? Are you catching the “starting over” bug? Or maybe just the “starting” bug?

I’m excited to start feeling strong again. How about you? What’s your plan? Let me know. Leave a comment or inbox me!