A few weeks ago, I developed terrible pain in my left shoulder. I don’t know what brought it on, but the muscles tensed up so hard that it hurt as badly as when I broke my collarbone in 2008. Wondering at the cause, I searched online for chronic muscle tension, because this isn’t the first time my shoulders have hurt like this, just the worst it has ever been, and I discovered that this sort of tension is common for people like me who sit at a computer all day. The best remedy is exercise.
I scheduled a massage to get the process started, and that worked wonders and released the tension. It has taken two weeks since then for the soreness to go away because my muscles just hurt so badly, but the massage was a huge help. If you’re in Springfield, I heartily recommend Nu Essence. Talia took care of me and did an amazing job.
I tried swimming, but could only make it about 5 minutes before needing to take a long break. I’m too out of shape to swim laps, and swimming is super inconvenient anyways.
So I decided to get back into weightlifting. I had done it some when our new recreation center opened on campus a couple of years ago, and I was just trying things out at the time. I used a bunch of machines and did some bench presses, but I kept the weight to what I thought I could handle, which was between 35 and 45 pounds. I hadn’t really done much exercise since breaking my collarbone, so I knew I was weak.
Last week, I began Starting Strength. It had me figure out the maximum I could lift, and then set (what seems to me) a fairly aggressive progression of weights. Last year, I lifted 45 pounds. Last week, I did my first squats with 95 pounds. Yesterday, I did 115, I deadlifted 120, and I pressed 100.
Every time I calculate my routine and look at it, I think “I can’t lift that. No way.” Then I go to the gym and I lift it.
That’s the best part about Starting Strength to me. The numbers aren’t relying on my psyche or belief. They’re not waiting for me to think I can lift that amount. The spreadsheet says “Lift this,” and I shrug and go do it.
And I am doing it. I’m lifting way more than I thought I could, and that’s awesome. And I’m already seeing benefit from it. This is minor, I know, but I bought pet food yesterday and picked up 45 pounds with way less effort than I was a few weeks ago. It’s not as daunting a weight to me anymore. Last night, I was unloading some stuff from the car, standing and waiting for April to open the door, and I thought, “Hurry up, this is heavy.” But then I realized… it wasn’t heavy. It used to be. My mind still thought it was. But I had this stuff under my arm and it wasn’t much of an issue.
This goes to show that a lot of my problems regarding exercise are mental. I hold myself back because I don’t think I can do something. I don’t know why I do this, but I’m loving the sort of routine that I’m doing now that just doesn’t allow for that.
“Today, you lift X.” Well, I don’t think I can, but I’ll try.
And then I lift it.