Back late fall I posted about a goal I had…one that put me way outside my comfort zone. This is an update to that post, along with a lesson I hope you find helpful.
November of 2014 my scary goal was to do an unassisted pull-up. I had various reasons for wanting to work toward this. However, the main reason was my back was terribly weak and it was beginning to affect my ability to do other exercises, specifically pushups.
I’ve been faithfully doing my pull-up specific workouts for three days a week since November. The workouts are HARD! Part of training a body to perform a pull-up is creating enough grip strength to hold your bodyweight for a length of time. Let me tell you…my forearms are tired and have crazy muscle-pump at the end of every workout! My arms, shoulders, and back are shot when I’m done. Every. Single. Workout. I can tell I’m gaining strength slowly as the bands I use for assisted pull-ups are providing less resistance. But since I’m still unable to do an unassisted pull-up I’ve been feeling very discouraged.
During this last 3 months or so I have been following two different workout routines. Yesterday at the gym I went back to the first routine I had been following and decided I would follow the same exercises but change the number of sets and reps per set. The first workout I followed was a much longer workout with a wider variety of exercises than the second routine…in a nutshell it was more challenging to me. Now that could be because when I began the second routine I already had made enough strength gains that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as when I had started.
In any case, yesterday I did the same workout that I did in November with changes in sets and reps like I said. By the time I finished my workout I was feeling great!! I have gone up significantly in the weight I can lift, but that wasn’t even the most important improvement I saw. Guess what?? I can do pushups again…and with improved form!! At the start of this process I was forced to perform incline toe pushups (hands higher than feet) and I could only perform maybe 5 or 6 before my shoulders simply could not hold my bodyweight. Yesterday, I banged out 30 incline pushups, with my elbows drawn back to my side (no goalposting arms anymore!) and I still had enough left in the tank for a few more! This thrills me!! My back is healing and improving! Ultimately I want to get to a standard pushup with no incline…and that will come…but to be able to perform a decent amount of reps with proper pushup form is a HUGE step in the right direction. And, I proved to myself I’m on the right track with my workouts. (Side note for another time: working your back, and more specifically with pulling exercises, is muy importante!! I’ll be back with more information on this!)
So that helpful lesson I mentioned….
When you have specific goals you are working toward…ones that may take several months to achieve…stop and TAKE STOCK on occasion.
I was really feeling as if I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress. Going back to the workout I did on Day 1 and seeing the difference in my abilities was eye-opening and affirming. Yes, I actually am getting stronger. Yes, this workout is effective and I will keep doing it.
Take stock!! Show yourself what you have achieved in the last few weeks/months. If you’ve “only” lost 10 pounds and feel discouraged about that, load up a backpack or shoulder bag with 10 pounds (you could use canned goods) and walk around or go up and down steps with the extra weight. I bet you will realize that 10 pounds IS significant. If you don’t feel like your habits or eating has changed, review your journal from awhile back and note your differences. Did you begin some changes in January? Write down what you were/weren’t doing in December and what you are/aren’t doing now and relish in all of your improvements.
We often look to the end-product as our signal of success, when in actuality we are achieving success all along the way. Take a moment today and review your efforts. It is what we do daily that gets us where we want to go, but in that daily process we don’t always see the subtle improvements and changes. We have to look back to see where we’ve come. Do that today!! Take stock of your accomplishments and go into a new week with renewed motivation!