There comes a time in anyone’s health and fitness journey when something happens to put a stopper on our plans. An injury. A holiday. Consecutive party nights… All these things happen, and they happen to the best of us. They former two have have happened to me several times.
You get into a flow and everything is going really, really well… Then you go on holiday for a couple of weeks, and by the time you’ve got back home, you’ve fallen out of your good habits and back into bad ones. A two-week holiday might easily turn into three months of no exercise at all! Again: It happened to me! Repeatedly!
I’m here to say that it’s okay. It happens. The more used to it you get, the smaller the effect is and the shorter the duration of your setbacks will be. Don’t let them discourage you, and don’t let them scare you away from getting back to it.
Just under a week ago, I suffered a setback.
Everything was going so well, and then I was a little bit careless. I didn’t warm up enough and then did some chest Flys with just a bit too much weight, and I instantly knew I’d made a mistake.
See, in 2011 I was incredibly stupid several times in a row and gave myself a very, very bad inflammation in my elbows. I got rid of it, but my arms are now incredibly sensitive to particular kinds of movements and loads. I have to remember to warm up well (which you should be doing anyway!) and avoid certain exercises, like any exercise that puts lateral pressure on my arms while they’re not bent.
In the past, I’ve figured “it’s okay. I just have to be careful, only do safe exercises, and keep the load lower” but it never works. I just keep being troubled by my inflamed elbows until I give up and concede that I have to take a rest. Cue protracted period of disillusionment and non-exercise. This time, I’m forcing myself to rest early and rest good. I won’t even allow myself to do leg days as they still require grip, which means tensing the muscles in my arms, putting more strain on the inflamed fibres. I have a DIY project to build some shelves, but I’m not even doing that, as I know the danger of putting lateral pressure on my elbow in unguarded moments.
So what I do now is that I take extra good walks with Balrog. I normally take him up Arthur’s Seat at least once a week, but I’ve taken him up three or four times the past week. It means I keep the exercising MINDSET while giving my arms a rest. My upper body gains may have to wait, but my ass and thighs are getting a great workout! I am also stretching my hamstrings and inner thighs (almost) every day.
I think this is a very important aspect of keeping yourself on track, even when you’re on track. Thinking of the tracks and trying to find minor ways in which you can keep yourself actively engaging with your health and fitness even when you can’t fully immerse yourself in the work you want to put in will keep you ready for when you CAN engage again.
It’s almost time for the first monthly photo/ measure/ weight check-in, so it’s going to be interesting to see how I’ve progressed despite a week and a bit of not much done.
What kind of setbacks have you suffered? How severe have they been and what have you done to combat the potential for letting them pull you out of good habits?