Pushing Through Setbacks on Your Fitness Journey

woman stretching

This pandemic has rocked everyone’s world, particularly fitness enthusiasts who had to adapt to closing gyms, limited equipment, increased stress, new work schedules, and shortages of different foods. Now that we appear to be on the other side of it, bodybuilding competitions have resumed, gyms have reopened, and it’s time for all of us to get back to basics.

I stuck with my workouts this whole time, but it wasn’t without hiccups. Lots of things prevented me from sticking to my usual way of working out that works best for me to build muscle. As a result, I kept changing things up, trying new things, attempting to keep motivation and results high. And it didn’t work!

Let’s start at the very beginning. In January of 2020 I started a new leg/glute program with my personal trainer, Shawna Moran, who was piloting the program. I am always a willing test subject! It was going gangbusters and I was seeing glute development like I had never seen before. During this time, I was also considering a relocation for a new, higher level job at my college alma mater. The move would have been significant for me and my family, and I was stressed through the interview process and as I agonized over my decision. March 13, I accepted the new position 90 minutes away in Geneseo, New York. The following Monday, March 16, I had a meh leg workout and I somewhat joked with the gym folks on the way out that I hoped that wasn’t my last gym workout. There was already talk of a lockdown. Well, later that day, it happened. EVERYTHING shut down.

With the stress of the move, the lack of gym equipment, and general anxiety over the pandemic, I was stunned. Shawna gave me a home workout to continue the glute development and I quickly started to replace my usual exercises with home versions using the little equipment I had on hand, such as resistance and booty bands, dumbbells, an EZ curl bar, and an old barbell set. It wasn’t ideal but the normalcy of continuing to get up and workout was helping…a little. Still, the stress made it difficult to maintain and make any new gains.

When we got through the very stressful house sale and purchase process (during lockdown with limited housing market action), we ended up in a position where we could build a home gym in the basement. My husband, a trained opera singer, wasn’t singing due to lockdown so we took advantage of the stimulus money and finished the basement, complete with a home office/gym for me. This allowed me to significantly enhance the workout equipment edging me ever closer to near normal when it came to my workouts. But, then a strange thing happened. Nothing felt normal.

At first I thought it was my supplements or vitamins. Then, I thought it was my lack of sleep. Then, I blamed work-related stress. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling my workouts or myself. So, I took breaks, changed the frequency, and even tried new types of workouts, all in an effort to regain my workout mojo. I bought an indoor bike (a whole other sordid story – let’s just say I started with a knockoff Peloton and paid the price!) thinking having the cardio option on long winter days would help. Nothing helped. I just felt lost. This feeling was new to me. I have been working out since college and in 25 years I’ve never felt this way. The past five years in particular have been all in with me falling in love with lifting and then becoming a personal trainer and nutrition coach in 2019. I systematically tried to isolate the issue by stopping all the vitamins and supplements, prioritizing sleep, and adding a monthly massage to my routine.

This past weekend, I happened to notice a bikini pro named Kerigan Pike, who won her first pro card at a competition. Something stirred inside me as I watched her success and looked through her past posts. I realized I had forgotten how exhilarating bodybuilding can be. To work systematically on each part of your body with the goal of building muscle and curves. Split routines in a hypertrophy style… that’s my jam. And maybe now it’s time to reintroduce the supplements that gave me so much success before. I immediately set to work writing myself a new program for the next at least six weeks. I just finished phase one of a performance-based program that had a strength focus with low reps and heavy weights so my body is primed to transition to a three to four set/10 rep format. I did my first routine in that workout plan this morning and I am feeling myself! It was awesome. I feel like I am back and so is my love for this type of training.

This has been a long struggle for me and I’m sharing it because others may relate to my experience. In addition to sharing the plan (my “emerging from the pandemic” gift to you), below are some tips that might help you, if you find yourself in the same spot I did.

  1. Don’t stress yourself out trying to figure out what’s wrong.
  2. Keep a consistent training schedule no matter what it looks like. Don’t lose the habit!
  3. When troubleshooting what’s wrong, isolate the variables. Don’t get rid of everything all at once or you won’t know which thing was the problem.
  4. It’s ok to take a complete break from training.
  5. Take the opportunity to try new styles of training or new routines.
  6. Don’t wait until the first day of the week or month to make a change. Change can happen anytime (mine hit on a Friday!).
  7. Seek out likeminded individuals to help talk you through your woes. We need to support each other on this journey!

I’m excited to be back on track again and looking forward to the summer months, which are typically more active months for me. Plus, who doesn’t love to wear tank tops and short shorts to show off all those gains? Happy summer!

Published by FitPRMomLife

Kerri Howell is FitPRMom, a working mom in public relations by day, a mom and partner always. A certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she helps other busy women reach their health and fitness goals.

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