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2020 Broke Me, and I Couldn’t Be Happier About It

Coach Meg Smith


I think, like many, I went into 2020 with hope. I enjoy the chance to start fresh, make goals, let go of burdens, and see potential in the possibilities ahead. While I’m never one to say “THIS is my year!!” I knew that so many good things were coming my way.
And then…2020 happened. For me, it started at the end of January. We were putting the Christmas decorations away in the attic. I carried a tub on my shoulder, pushing it towards Chris, but was a little short. So I puuuuushed. And my shoulder didn’t like it and was aggravated for a few days. I just kept plugging away at life, and in the gym, because “I was fine.” By late February, it became clear I actually wasn’t fine, so I saw my doctor and she ordered an MRI.

And then March. COVID became a pandemic, and our world changed overnight. We closed the gym, my MRI got cancelled because it wasn’t critical, and I was left to deal with it on my own. I was frustrated. I own a ton of equipment, but being WITH people helps me focus and push. Yes, I have been a CF coach for 10 years, and in the fitness industry for nearly 20, so I knew how to modify for my shoulder, but I didn’t want to “suffer alone.” And I didn’t. We did Zoom classes, and I chose to really focus on why I was online. For the first time in a long time, I stopped thinking about what I should be doing. I couldn’t see anyone else, and it was an awakening in me that “moving for me” without a care about anyone else was refreshing. I also didn’t compare myself to, as I like to call it, “use-to-could.” It didn’t matter what I would have done under more ideal circumstances, it mattered what effort I could, and did, give that day. I “moved for me.”

When we reopened the gym, I’d really gotten into a groove of “moving for me” and looked forward to continuing it. I rescheduled my MRI, only to have in cancelled because of a COVID case at the MRI facility, and then rescheduled and cancelled again because my referral was expired. What a blow! A chance for progress…for answers…taken away. I had two choices. Be frustrated and just push, or continue to respect my body’s need for rest and recovery, and “move for me.” 

In August, I bought a new pair of running shoes. I was really enjoying the jogging and long walks COVID life had afforded me, and my kicks needed an upgrade. Low and behold, they weren’t the right shoes for me, and I developed a painful (and still aggravating) case of bursitis in my ankle. What a set back! My jogs were no more, my walks and hikes really hurt, and I was having to modify in the gym for ANOTHER part of my body! Gah! But it stripped away some bad, too. I didn’t care if I was Fitness or Sport…fast or slow, keeping up, falling behind, or leading the pack. I “moved for me.”

It’s a good thing I’d been using this year (by choice, or by force!) to reset my wellness priorities. In October, when leaving a special baby shower, I got rear ended. (Maybe it’s because I went back for another Rice Krispy treat??) I didn’t really realize how bad it was, either from adrenaline, or because I drive a tank and damage to my car was minimal. It wasn’t until the next day where it became clear I had whiplash and a back injury. Luckily it was only muscular, but the impact on my daily life and my gym life was substantial. I could hardly pick up a bar without real pain for about 3 weeks. But…it was ok. I did what I could, I got good advice from the coach on duty about modifications I could do (because every athlete needs to be coached, and our coaching staff has a lot of good ideas!), and I “moved for me.”

  Then the end of October came along. Let’s recap. My shoulder was finally feeling reasonably good and I was moving light weight overhead. My bursitis was manageable with modifications, and my back pain and whiplash were subsiding, and I could move more comfortably. Things were looking good!! Until I got my bloodwork back. You see, I’d been having some stuff go on. Hair loss, rapid and unexplained weight gain, afternoon fatigue, serious temperature issues, and legit brain fog. The diagnosis? Hypothryoidism with some follow up stuff to sort out. This means lots of appointments, blood work, medication additions and adjustments, and more. It also means giving myself a LOT of grace for my workouts, knowing my body won’t be able to keep up with what my mind knows it should be able to do. 

Is this annoying? Sure. But you know what? I’m SO glad that this year has put me through the paces. Without all of these steps in my journey, I can assure you I would be in a worse place. Disordered eating, depression, anger, blame, anxiety, overuse or over-exertion, comparison and failure…all of it. Instead, this year has taught me something I’ve always tried to be aware of as a coach…respect for the whole person—an awareness that every day brings a different version of each athlete into the building. My job as a coach is to adjust WITH these changes, to help that athlete have the best hour possible. And I learned to do that this year for myself, too. “I moved for me.”

My hope for you, moving into the new year, is that you recognize the nuances of each day. That you take inventory of what has happened in the previous 24 hours that would impact your workout. How full is the plate you’re balancing? Did you sleep well, eat well, recover from yesterday’s workout? Do you need to warm up more because of an injury, a preexisting issue, or higher stress? Should you modify, even though you always use a particular weight? Could your coach give you a recommendation that will actually make your workout better, rather than you ‘sucking it up’ so your workout looks like everyone else’s or because you know what to do? Should you work out in a different spot in the gym so you aren’t influenced by others? What do you need to do to say “I move for me”?

Interested in talking about your mindset for the new year? Sign up for a chat with Coach Meg HERE