I have no idea why I still remember this memory so vividly today. It was over a decade ago, but for some reason it made an imprint...
“I haven’t been here in a while,” she said sheepishly as if embarrassed. I took her membership card and scanned it. “Have a good workout,” I said as she walked into the locker room.
I looked at the login screen, she hadn’t been into the gym for 19 days and before that it had been over a month. I looked at her birthday and quickly did the math. She was 28 years old. I remember thinking to myself, “That will never be me.” I couldn’t understand how someone could be a member and could go an entire month without coming to the gym.
I remember thinking about that moment in undergrad when I’d stay out most of the night and still make it to the gym. I thought about that moment in PT school when I kept my workout routine even on the busiest of weeks.
But, then residency came and I remember skipping the gym for three months straight and taking the stairs instead of the elevator became my workout.
Before residency, I was never challenged to handle work and life (thanks mom for cooking dinner every single night during PT school). I never realized how difficult working and cooking a balanced meal could be. I underestimated how tired I would be after a long day or a long week. I never anticipated wanting to get better at something would shift my priorities. And I never realized how easy it would be to neglect a workout.
I remember feeling incredibly guilty about this, not much different than the client checking in 19 days after her last check in. I remember feeling like I was somehow failing. That I swore I’d never be a person that misses a workout, yet there I was. And that’s when I thought to myself, maybe that client was in some sort of life transition.
This isn’t really a story about figuring out how to avoid a hiatus from the gym or balancing work and other parts of life. This is a reminder that beginnings, shifts, and changes all come with difficult adjustment periods. And in those adjustment periods, you are not failing. If you skip a workout, you shouldn’t feel guilty. If you have cereal for dinner four nights in a row, you shouldn’t worry. And if your plans have become skewed, they won’t stay that way.
If you lose your grip on a routine or aren’t perfectly living up to your own expectations, it is okay. Especially during COVID, especially if you just graduated, especially if your normalcy has shifted.. You are not failing. You are learning to adjust.
Stop beating yourself down. The key thing is, what are you going to do today to adjust?