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When Willpower Isn't The Real Problem

I am sitting in the library staring out of the window at the gym. I want to cry.

I remember when living in the gym felt like the basis of my existence. I taught a million classes in a million different formats in a million different gyms. I taught classes for fundraisers, birthday parties, Girls Night Out and any other occasion where I was asked. I've taught in senior centers, daycares, parking lots, libraries, high school hallways, day camps, on video, on Zoom, in news stations and in fancy studios. Yet, there was nothing that would prepare me for where I am now:

Covid happened. Menopause happened. Trauma happened. And the biggest change of them all that I am still trying to wrap my head around seemingly every moment of every day:

My body just quit. Literally. Right now, the heaviness in my arms is making it hard to type.

I don't know how to explain what's happening to me. It's not a specific diagnosis. I do know that the days of jumping out of the bed at 4:30 a.m. to train clients and prepare myself for a long day of training, teaching and doing my own workout in the midst are gone. I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and feel like I am chained to the bed and it takes me an hour or so to be able to get up. It's not just physical pain (which I do have). It's like trying to move through molasses in a suit you would never buy. It's like being awake but not being awake because you can't remember which life you are living. It's like fighting against your own will by a force that's kicking your butt but you can't even fight back because you can't see it.

I have had more than my share of doctor's appointments and tests and hypothesis over the last few months. The only definitive answers I've gotten are that I'm stressed and that, at one point, I was over medicated and it's still showing up in my body. No one can answer anything else. I just pay my co-pay, have my weight taken in distress, answer the same questions with the same complaints and the same frustration only to sit in a room alone by myself for way too long to wait to be told, "well, we don't see anything."

But I feel it. Something is wrong.

And it's not my "willpower." It's not that I'm lazy. It's not just depression. And I can't make myself get up because my body won't. And it's frustrating as hell.

Every day, I watch social media try to convince people if they just "eat right and exercise" that they'll lose weight or if they just buy this product or take this workshop or food combine or increase their protein or only eat four hours a day or hold their breath for 20 counts at sunset that they'll be healthy. Every day I read a post that tells people "you're not exercising because you aren't making it a priority." Or that it's laziness. Or lack of focus. Or unwillingness to invest money.

I have not only taught at the gym I'm staring at right now but I have had a membership there for over a year. It's the perfect setup. The price is extremely reasonable and it's less than ten minutes from my house. So are the other two gyms I pay for every month. No one will tell you I don't know how to "push" myself. The multiple surgeries, injuries and resume can prove that.

I struggle with how to tell people that something is happening to me that I cannot push past and being cursed out in a meme or ridiculed because of it doesn't help.

I do wonder if my body is in rebellion; like it just shut down because I spent almost two decades ignoring its cues. I would teach under ANY circumstance no matter how detrimental it was to my physical and mental well-being. And now that my life is no longer centered around that, I am facing some unusual psychosomatic reaction to going into the gym and doing anything.

Or am I really sick and everyone is missing that?

Through these tears I will tell you that there is nothing I'd love to do more right now than to have the energy to throw this laptop in my bag, go across the street, load up the bar and get my deadlift on. I physically can't. As my hands start to tremble, I can feel the dumbbells in my hand. I can feel my feet on that lateral elliptical I love so much. I can feel the sensation of jumping rope. I can feel my shoulders in chaturanga. I can feel my back on the assisted pull-up machine. And then the sensations become too much and I know I have to go home and lie down soon because the feeling of drowning in molasses and trying to fight for my survival will return and I'll have to cry it out and sleep it off.

It's not my willpower. It's not my priorities. It's not ability to "push through." It's not my ability to never eat cookies again. It's not lack of information. It's not lack of programming. It's something and I don't know what it is and I'm mad as hell.

One day I'll be back. I won't be on a mission to "unbig my back" (I absolute HATE that phrase). I'll be on a mission to start my life again where it got paused without my permission knowing I'll be playing with a different uniform and a different mindset.

You'll be back. You'll be able to press the "play" button again. Your end game will be different. You'll look different. You'll feel different. You'll be different but you'll be back.

May we meet at the intersection of healing and holding space until we are at that point.


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