Imagine, it’s the beginning of 2020. I’ve been self employed for nearly 2 years as a Personal Trainer- the dream. Business is in growth after the initial slog of the first year; I have regular and steady clients; I’m working less but getting more and I’m in a new relationship, fresh and delicate but exciting. I’ve got holidays and getaways booked with an amazing guy, personal targets to hit and for the first time, I honestly feel like everything is clicking into place. For the first time, in a long time, life looks promisingly straight-forward.
There’s something going on in China- my client constantly talks about it in between sets but I’m sure he’s just stalling for more rest time, so I hurry the conversation on. I mean, it’s China, it looks bad on the News, but they’ll work it out as a country. Please just finish the set and stop trying to get me to talk about anything other than training.
A couple of weeks later, he’s showing me something about Italy being shut down. I think it’s crazy that something like that is possible, let alone legal. Obviously nothing like that would happen here. It’s really sad, though.
A few weeks later, I’m laying on my bed at 11am, eyes so dry and raw I can barely open them, feeling numb. I cannot work. I cannot see my loved ones. I detest my own company and being idle. I am entitled to no money. I cannot exercise outside my house for more than an hour. My relationship is now in jeopardy (in my eyes, not in reality).
I am powerless. I am overwhelmed.
Not to mention the fear. The fear of getting sick, of making loved ones sick, of getting sick and not being able to see anyone if I am suffering. It’s 2020 and I’m now disinfecting broccoli before it goes into the fridge. What a time to be alive.
My social media feeds fill up with people seemingly enjoying this storm. Personal Trainers look as though they are trying to cash in from this sudden madness. ‘Work out for your mental health’. Sun, body weight exercises and Zoom. Bloody Zoom. Everyone suddenly calls me for a video chat, a method of communication I have never used in my life. I engross myself with the News networks an unhealthy amount, a constant lead in my stomach. How is everybody else so OK with this? Am I the only one who is struggling? I feel like I’m the only one who is either insane or sane, and I can’t decide which one it is. I train in the garden, when I feel like it, but I can’t focus. I can’t enjoy it. It’s the sixth workout I’ve tried, and suddenly everything feels like it’s pressing down on me. I buckle under the weight of my slamball and I start to cry for the billionth time.
Will I ever get my business back? Will I ever get my life back?
Fast forward to March 2021, over a year ago since this moment. I write from what feels like a very distant and distorted memory. The memory is clear. But there isn’t any recognition for that girl anymore.
She was a weak ass b**ch.
1 year of on and off lockdowns, of dipping in and out of work, of starting and restarting my business. 1 year of coming to terms with mortality, of grasping the concept of how incredibly short life is and just how astonishingly lucky I am, in the majority of aspects. 1 year of having to sit within my own company and really get to know myself. I needed to change. I needed to grow in order to succeed and in order to do that, I needed to not only fully understand my shortcomings, but except them.
Except the things about myself I try so hard to avoid facing? Ugh.
Things I discovered and excepted:
- Exercise is important to me, but if I’m not feeling it, it’s completely okay to just not do it. No point stressing at myself for not doing, no point stressing at myself for not wanting to. Even if it’s important to me, it’s not the MOST important. I doubt I’ll be laying on my death bed wishing I’d done more preacher curls.
- I am confident, but I lack self-belief. I have always thought of these things as the same thing, but they really aren’t. The minute I separated them in my head was the minute it was easier to work on them. I always thought I had self belief in abundance, but did I really believe in myself if I doubted whether I’d get my business running again? Suck it up cupcake and adapt.
- Talking about adaption, I realized very early on I was awful at it. Sure I can adapt an exercise, but I can’t adapt my life around a change of circumstances. This is definitely because I have been fortunate enough that I haven’t had to. To succeed, I need to learn to adapt. It’s literally evolution.
- I poke at my stomach too much. Like seriously. Every time I walk past a mirror I shimmy, poke and squidge it up into a roll. It needs to stop, but it has become such a negative habit, it will take time. In fact, I poke negatively at an extortionate amount of ‘flaws’ on my body. This will take time to accept, but I know when I do, I will be so much happier.
- For me, walking beats all other types of exercise. I love resistance training. I enjoy swimming in a nice warm pool. I really love an old fashioned where-the-f*ck-am-I bike ride. But walking is something I will actually get out of bed for. If I enjoy it, I should always make time for it.
- My ego was and is affecting my life without me even knowing. I always hear the term ‘Leave the ego at the door’. It’s common in the fitness industry and basically means, stop doing sh*t that will cause you an injury, for the sake of just being able to. I never thought about applying this same analogy to all parts of my life. Ego is ugly, and masks itself under many facades. Sometimes worrying something will go wrong, is ego is disguise. Sometimes, wondering why I’m not smart enough or good enough, is again, ego under the illusion of self doubt. Who said wasn’t smart enough, other than my own ego deciding I wasn’t? Jealousy can be ego, and insecurity is ego pretending to be prey, when in actual fact, it’s a predator. It’s taken a lot to strip it away and put it back together.
- Given the chance, my diet will cascade into chaos. Honestly, my body fancies whatever I’m eating. From stir-fry, to cake for breakfast, to paella at midnight, I just fancy whatever happens to be in line for my stomach next. This has downsides, this has benefits.
- I do not learn enough. This was hard to accept because it requires extra effort and time I did not want to donate. The lazy side of me already thinks I do enough. Ridiculous. Since the beginning of this year, I have participated and passed a course in Exercise For Ante and Postnatal, and I am undertaking a maths qualification because I frankly sucked at it. If I can do maths, I can do anything. I will continue to grow my knowledge, no more laziness where this is concerned.
- I did not understand the fragility of life. I knew life was short and precious. But being happy with what I have, not constantly undermining it or seeking more, is something I have never even realized I have never had. Life really IS short. And it really is happening all the time. I should enjoy it more, especially the annoying and inconvenient bits. In 5 years time, I won’t even remember them.
I have yet to put the new and improved me into action. With the world supposedly returning back to a new normal, I am dying to see if I can use what I now understand about myself into some sort of personal progress. I’m nervous, but nonetheless excited.
My relationship has not only survived under pressure but blossomed. My career is paused but definitely going to survive, because I will make it survive. My body is currently flumpy with a side of marshmallow but I will get stronger and in the best shape of my life. My mental health has rocketed, since putting the BS in the bin and started focusing on what really is important.
I never realized the importance of standing by your convictions.
This year has been tough for everyone. There has been parts that have broken my heart, there have been times my heart has broken for other people. There have been glimpses of hope and happiness, and grounding feelings of despair. The road ahead looks rocky.
But I genuinely believe better times will come. We can make them, small glimpses in every day life, life changing memories.
If you are reading this and can relate to anything, need a little support or wish to share your year in lockdown, drop a comment or send a message. Together we are stronger.
I wish you the most amazing year, Covid or no Covid, and I hope to see you soon.