Here's a photo I took for a lot of different reasons. There's so much more going on in this picture than I might be able to explain. That's me, wearing quite a lot of tops (3). That's a barbell, loaded with today's maximum squat weight for me (4 x 5 x 35kg). That background is the gym where I work now.
I didn't actually want to take this photo because I didn't want to admit that this is where I start again - and actually, that in itself is the reason that you're reading this right now. This is where I start again. The last three years have held a difficult pregnancy, birth, injury, comas (well, just one, and not my own), enormous upheaval, an operation and oh, look, all those marvellous excuses to neglect a regular training schedule.
Taking stock over the last few weeks, I've realised how much of my own bullshit I've happily bought into - and now I want a fucking refund. I don't know when the moment occurred when I stopped really trying to push myself, but the longer time went on, the harder it was to get back into the flow of a once deeply fulfilling training schedule. I deal with this phenomenon every day with my clients, and yet, it still posed an enormous challenge to overcome in my own life.
As I leaned on this bar, dreaming of the 100kg back squats of yesteryear, I consciously had to force myself not to be overwhelmed by the sensation of taking a step back - because that's not what it was. If anything, my own approach to my personal fitness in the last couple of weeks has been nothing but giant strides forward. It's purely a matter of perception, though, and it was this murky mindset that has held me back so much in recent months. To continue to live in the achievements of the past is to dwell in an unreality long gone and forever outside our grasp. What happened yesterday, whether great or terrible, is done. There may be second chances, but you can never replicate exact conditions in this enormous experiment that is your life.
All the negative emotion attached to getting back into it was coming from myself. The stares were imagined. The laughter was non existent. The paranoia extended way beyond any reality... the only thing that was real were my own fears; fear of not measuring up, not being good enough, not succeeding, not doing as well as I once did, not maintaining the training plan. There I am, back at clawing away at my own self esteem; and how unhealthy, to presume of myself the very least. Well, fuck that, nine times in its ear.
I have no more energy to invest in the guilty perception of 'wasted' time. I cannot afford to feel shame at the massive deload that the weight on this bar represents. I have no desire to wait any longer to get back to the pursuit of my own goals, my own focus, my personal strategy. I need to begin somewhere, anywhere, in order to progress, to move forward, and to regain all that I have lost along the way. That's what it is: beginning. It doesn't happen half way through, it won't ever reflect the end of something else. It is new, fresh, the blankest, most improvable canvas I've ever had on which to create.
How can I cry about being imaginarily shit at something I used to do? I'm poised, ready, about to be great at something new, something incredible, something better. The respect growing within me every day for every single one of my clients who falls down, and gets back up, is immeasurable. Sometimes, it is not with my own advice that I find the courage to move forward, but from the inspiration I gain from those to whom I have imparted it.
This all extends way beyond fitness; everything we can comprehend achieving or aiming towards falls within this remit. It is not enough to wait, however, sometimes we need to stand in front of the challenge, face it down, with every demon still at our side. Sometimes we need a hand held to get through the plaster-ripping, sometimes we need guidance to find an appropriate direction. Above all, we have to be honest about the thing we want the most - sometimes it's going to be the toughest thing to achieve. You can wait three years, or you can wait thirty. Avoidance, bullshit, and procrastination will only delay your start point. Get going. Do what you love.