Allowing Myself to Be Human
I have been really struggling with something for about the last 6 to 8 months. I have kept it to myself, mainly because for whatever reason, it is embarrassing for me to admit. However, I really believe in being honest with myself and with other people, so here it goes.
Confession: I haven’t been to the gym in over two weeks.
Confession Numero Dos: I haven’t been to the gym more than three times in the past month.
Confession Part 3:I have struggled to regularly get to the gym, for more than about five weeks at a time, for about the last eight months.
I feel like I might have to explain why this is embarrassing for me because it really is; it has actually been a large source of guilt for me in the past few months (and if you talk to my boyfriend, you will learn that I often feel far too guilty about things that wouldn’t cause a normal person to even bat an eyelash).
You see, I have goals. I really do. I have numbers for each of the main lifts that I want to reach. I have a lifetime goal of seeing an 800 lbs total. These goals stem from a very deep place within me that determines my work ethic for everything in my life. For whatever reason, in my mind, I associate super high achievements with good; I also associate normal achievements with failure.
Now, these associations do not extend to other people. I am the only person that I ever hold to these standards. Take exercising, for example. I think it is great for people to just lead active lifestyles. Gardening, running, weightlifting, swimming, biking, walking, snowshoeing, whatever. You do it? I am glad you are doing it. I am glad it makes you happy and makes you feel and be healthy. I think that if you spend time being active and choose physical activities over sitting on the couch every night, you are better than average and I appreciate you. I really do believe that participating in physical activities, no matter the physical activity, makes you a better person.
However, because of the standards I set for myself and have always set for myself for the level of achievement I aim for (that is, I must, always, become really, really freaking good at everything at a lightning fast past and maintain that pace forever) have made it difficult to allow myself to just lead an active lifestyle. And it causes me to feel guilty.
It makes me feel guilty for a few reasons:
I feel like I am giving up on my dreams and goals, which is ridiculous.
I feel like I am not working “hard enough” if I am not in the gym 4 days a week giving it all I have. To me, I feel like I have been lazy, when really, I have been just the opposite.
I feel like I will be disappointing to you. I have been very open about how powerlifting has changed my life and many of you have followed my journey and supported me from the beginning. Additionally, I have had people confide in me that because of my openness about my powerlifting experiences, they have decided to give it a shot and love it!
I am writing this post because I felt like I should be honest with the people who read my blog. I also felt like I needed to write this to really solidify the fact that I should not feel guilty. I need to allow myself to be human, too. I need to extend myself the same grace that I extend to others. I am not quitting powerlifting. I don’t think that will ever happen. But currently, I have other priorities.
These priorities include:
Spending time with my friends and family. You see, for many of you, lifting in the gym is a social activity. For me, it is a solitary activity and because of both my attitude (a result of my wariness of being hit on and ogled and harassed), as well as the general patronage of my gym, I don’t have any gym friends or lifting buddies. Training usually means lifting by myself in the gym for two hours, four days a week. It also meant leaving my boyfriend (even though I get to see him only 2.5 days of the week and we live together) to go workout by myself. Honestly, lifting is very lonely at times. And lately, I have been craving interaction (which I don’t really get through my job, either).
Enjoying my new house and garden. For the past 4 weekends, I have probably spent about 15-20 hours every weekend doing some pretty serious yard work. Also, I spend nearly an hour every evening picking the fruit from our yard. And before that, I spent time playing outside with my kitten, going on walks, and packing to prepare for our move.
Creating. Powerlifting is not my only hobby. I love writing (one of the reasons I have this blog), crafting, and building things. I love to use my hands (and occasionally, my brain) to create things. Currently, I have a pile of pallets in my garage that i plan to turn into some pretty cool things. Also, I recently started taking an online nutrition course, where I have to watch lectures, do homework, and take quizzes.
And unfortunately, because there are only so many hours in the week and I have a full-time job (and have to do things like eat and sleep and run errands), I have a limited amount of time to see the people I love and to do my hobbies. And I have to make decisions. So, the point of this post is twofold, as I said above. The first, is that I hope to assuage my guilt. The second is just to communicate to those who I interact with my via my many social networking sites and exercise forums of why you won’t be seeing a bunch of extensive weightlifting sessions from me. Also, maybe some of you can identify with how I am feeling. I frequently create a little “box” for myself about who I am and what I stand for, even though, never in a million years, would I allow anyone else to put me in a box. Without further ado, here is why I should not feel guilty:
Firstly, I am still a baby in the sport of powerlifting. I have plenty of time to achieve my goals. In two years, I have already achieved an elite total, elite squat, elite deadlift, and an advanced bench. Secondly, it is perfectly acceptable to have goals change (not that I am changing my goals). It is human to change priorities and goals.
Thirdly, as my beautiful friend pointed out to me, I am not being lazy. It is not as if I am sitting on my couch eating Fritos. I am actually being very active. I have even been occasionally running. The yard work I do is very strenuous (throwing and stacking logs, pulling over 300 square feet of waist-high weeds, planting and tending to a billion plants and fruit yielding bushes). And lately, it has all been done in the blazing heat. Also, as my boyfriend pointed out to me, this is why I began lifting in the first place. If you ask me why I began lifting, I will answer that it was because I was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I have created a base amount of strength and health that makes throwing and stacking logs fun instead of taxing and miserable. I am healthy and I have energy. Normal and even difficult tasks have become easy. And it feels great.
Fourthly, as both the aforementioned friend and boyfriend said, this is a normal course of human events. People have interests and priorities and sometimes people completely lose interest in an activity and sometimes, an activity is just placed on the back burner.
That’s that. I have put it out in the open. I have been busy living my life and it is making me pretty happy, so I am not going to feel guilty about this any more. I also think that this is one step in giving myself the grace to be a human about more things in my life (which, for those of you who know a bit about me, probably know that this is a pretty big deal). I have no doubt in my mind that I will continue to lift, it is just that right now, I am choosing to participate in other, enjoyable activities. Who knows, maybe next week, there will be some rain and I will return to my gymrat ways. But right now, t just doesn’t seem right to waste this beautiful weather. 🙂