Sunday, February 8, 2015

Getting Back On Track

There was a time when I would have said any excuse not to go to the gym was inexcusable. Unfortunately as my life would go I have since had to go full-on hypocrite, and miss days at the gym myself, quite a few of them in the last month, and for reasons that are totally beyond my control. Again, something I would have at one time looked down upon in others, and have to now sort out within my own life, so I figured I would share some of my observations and suggestions. As with most of my observations and suggestions, they come from personal experience using my favorite test subject, myself.

Let’s get one thing straight, before we get started. I still reserve the right to judge, just like I give you the right to judge. Actually I don’t give you the right to do anything; you just have the right to judge. This is one of the most important parts of life because judgment is what shapes us. Judgment is the tool in which we decide what we do or do not want to become with ourselves, and those that say you can’t judge others usually just realize that they have something judge-worthy that they don’t want to change about themselves. I and everyone else have one of these things at the very least, but one of the many reasons I write is because I have found it in myself to change something and want to share it in case someone else does to and needs a little push.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, today is a perfect example of a day I couldn’t go to the gym. It is snowing outside, and I promised my wife that I wouldn’t drive in the wee hours when it is snowing. Something that was judged and I changed it. To make this easier on myself I had to set up a set of moral rules that I would follow in these circumstances, and so far I have followed them. The first of these rules is that I would compensate for as many of the things I am missing on a workout day as I can. The easiest of which, depending on attitude, is the amount of “steps” that I would take pacing around the gym between sets.

Now once I have done my morning rituals, and it is the usual time to leave for the gym, I put on the sweats, tie on the sneakers, and take a walk around the neighborhood. I have to make up for at the very least 4000 steps, and at the very most 5000 steps. These are the averages that I would have when I get home from the gym, and whether it is snowing or not I can go get that. Shoveling all of the snow will make up for a usual “off day” cardio routine, including the core exercises like the lower back, oblique, and abdominals. This satisfies my need to “maintain” my healthy lifestyle, on the days when I can’t exactly “fulfill” my healthy intentions.

What is probably more important than what you do during the days you can’t make it to the gym are the days you make it back after a hiatus. Here’s where I will spare you any judgment and let you fill in your own reasons for not going to the gym. This is simply how you get back into it based on my gym return experiences. Now a days I have only missed the gym for a few reasons (snow, cholesterol tests, work responsibilities) and it has yet to spread out to more than two days over the last three years. The one exception was when my wife was in the hospital, and I just couldn’t get my mind in to it for four days, so I skipped to avoid hurting myself. “Not Hurting Yourself” is the most important thing to keep in mind if you miss gym days, and are on your way back in.

Use the right attitude to your advantage when you get back to the gym. In my case I instinctively know that it is time to “go light” or in other words, start with a lighter weight than you did the last time. In general my ego usually gets in the way of doing this, but I have found it is always a good idea to “go light” at least once a month. Strict focus on your muscles you are working, and strict focus on doing each rep perfectly is the goal here, and it will do a LOT of good. I also tend to walk in like a conquering hero on the way back from a medieval quest, because I missed being there. Always makes for good conversation with all of the people I am used to seeing at the gym during my normal times.

Here’s where you will have to use your own ideas as to how you approach getting back to the gym. If it’s been a day or two it’s easy to just say hi and go about your workout. If it’s been weeks or months then I know all too well what it is like to be a bit embarrassed with ourselves. I have experience with the months but not the weeks. In the case of months, nobody remembers you anyway, just go in like any old newcomer would, and get your workout on. If you are dealing with legitimate friends be honest about why you haven’t been there. Lazy is probably the best excuse, since it will get laughed away and not bring on the butt of jokes angle every time you walk in.

In reality know this; I have personally only known three types of people that stare. Those that are jealous, and want to do something obnoxious sooner or later, those that are trying to do what you are doing or those that want to help you with what you are doing because you are making a mistake of some sort that they wish someone had helped them with. The first is a waste of space, and the other two are going to become your new friends. Remember that it is all good as long as you go to the gym to worry about YOU, even if you have to take a little time to judge those that you do or do not want to be like. It’s the stupid people that go around telling them.