What happens when we outgrow ourselves?
In fitness, this can look like over exercising to hide our discomfort with ourselves. It appears healthy on the outside, but inside there’s turmoil, shame, and self-loathing. At work, this might look like a colleague who is always in bad mood. In relationship, it’s that nagging feeling that you’re no longer a fit for your partner.
Exercise was my drug for many years. It served as a mask to hide behind, even though it looked like discipline and health on the outside. I woke up at 5am to run before work, hit a spin class at lunch and then went to tennis lessons afterwards. I also ran a ton of half marathons (loved them!)
People admired me for this. I was so obsessed with overexercising that I didn’t recognize my actions were rooted in not feeling good enough.
Not athletic enough.
Not worthy enough.
Not good enough.
“Not Enough” was the limiting belief I carried with me from childhood all the way to my 30s, and it continues to be something I must constantly work on.
Flip the Switch On Your Fitness Now
We become attached to our old stories when we adopt it as our identity. Being the “super fit chic” was a great story identity to hang my hat on. It meant no one questioned why I didn’t go to happy hours or offered me donuts at the office.
In fitness, I see women and men hang their hats on one single identity – the CrossFitter, the marathoner, the former D1 athlete – and struggle to let it go once they’ve hit a plateau or are too beat up from that training method to continue.
Former BarbellSTRONG coaching client, Kathy, was one of those people. She had practiced CrossFit for years, training 4-6x a week and really enjoyed it. By her late 30s, however; her body and adrenals were shot from training hard all the time.
I scaled back her strength training program to 3-4x a week. No HIIT, no Metcons, or intense cardio. Her one month progress was astounding!
Kathy broke through a plateau by letting one chapter in her life go (i.e. CrossFitter, Over exerciser) and allowing a new one to take hold.
When we outgrow a piece of ourselves, it’s common to want to hold on to it. Consider an old friendship with someone who no longer shares your values, beliefs, or interests. You may hold on to that friendship because of your history.
“Oh, she’s been my best friend since pre-school.”
“He was there for me when through the worst period of my life.”
“This person has always been good to me.”
Letting go may seem cruel, but it’s more cruel to hang on to a friendship where neither person is happy or fulfilled by it. Hanging on holds the other individual back just as much as it holds you.
Flip the switch on your fitness by:
- Prioritizing sleep and getting ‘alone time’ to re-energize
- Engage with your community (friends, family, clubs, etc.)
- Make pleasure, rest, and enjoyment a regular part of your routine
- Learn about nutrition and how to optimize your work in the gym
- Use exercise for fun, performance, and joy
- Get outside and use all that hard earned muscle to experience more in life
Like fitness, this is an ongoing practice. We get better over time and it gets easier the more consistent we are. Before growth can occur, you must outgrow the old you and shed that story.