Lessons from 2016

I love the New Year, and the optimism that it brings. Before I get carried away with setting my 2017 goals, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on 2016 and what I’ve learned. There’s no point launching into a New Year and just repeating the same mistakes! 2016 was a bit of a weird year for me. Being injured and unable train for the majority of the year was pretty shit. Looking back, however, it’s also been a huge learning experience.

#1 Gym isn’t life

2015 was the year I got really into lifting – it was my life. I trained as much as possible – usually 5-6 times a week. I would’ve went twice a day if I had the time – and occasionally did. The time I wasn’t in the gym, I was watching fitness Youtubers, trawling through fitness-related social media accounts, or learning more about training or nutrition. I was obsessed. I thought I was super ‘hardcore’ because I prepped meals, counted macros, and trained. I was a lifter, full-stop. As you can then imagine, getting injured was pretty much the worst thing that could have happened to me. Since May I’ve done pretty much zero lifting. At first, I was angry at the world, at my body for letting me down, and most of all, angry at myself for letting it happen. Every time I went to the gym to do my physio exercises, I’d look over longingly at the weights section. Pathetic, I know. This went on for longer than I care to admit. Eventually I copped on to myself, and realised there’s more to life than lifting weights. Training and eating healthy food isn’t ‘hardcore’ – it’s a privilege. When you think about it, complaining about a self-induced calorie deficit is a bit ridiculous when there’s people in the world starving, isn’t it? Fitness should enhance your life, not be your life. I still am looking forward to I can properly train again, but when I return I aim to be a lot more balanced about things!

#2 Stop being a judgemental fuck

Yet another lesson I learnt from injury was to stop judging what everyone else is doing! I used to be guilty of strutting over to the weights section, thinking I was better than everyone because I deadlifted. Imagine being one of those girls who just did cardio? The horror! How dare anyone do any exercise that isn’t resistance training! What’s even the point if you’re not making gains? Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy when I became one of those girls doing cardio. I lost the judgemental attitude pretty quickly then! In the last year I’ve started enjoying other forms of exercise like yoga, pilates, and walking – all previously not ‘hardcore’ enough! I’m trying to extend this attitude outside of the gym, and to be less judgemental in general – it’s a work in progress!  I’m going to make an effort in 2017 to just focus on my own shit.

#3 Mindset is key

Before this year, I’d never given too much thought to self-developement or mindset. Tying in with point #2, I thought it was all a load of bullshit. Mindset, meditation, mindfulness – all hippy stuff I had no time for. In this past year, however, I’ve gotten to love learning about mindset, and the powerful effects it can have. I’ve read a tonne of self-development books, and have plenty more on my shelf to read! I’m still getting into a lot of it, but I’m already seeing benefits in my life. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness has been a game-changer, and has made me a happier and calmer person. I can’t wait to work on mindset loads more in 2017!

#4 It depends

I used to have a very fixed mindset about a lot of things. Sugar is bad. Carbs are bad. Everyone should be squatting ass-to-grass. Three years ago I believed everyone should be eating paleo, and should be doing the squat, bench and deadlift. No exceptions. A big lesson from 2016 is that context is everything. Pretty much everything in life depends on context. There is no one best diet – it depends on the individual and their tastes, preferences, health etc. Same goes for exercise. There is so much nuance that I previously ignored – if it didn’t fit my beliefs, it was wrong. I’m still working on changing this, and am trying to challenge my beliefs on lots of things. I hope to read plenty of books that make me question things in 2017!

#5 I don’t know shit about training

A few months into lifting I thought I knew all there was to know about resistance training. Lift as heavy as possible, stick to compound movements, and progressively overload over time – that’s all there is to it, right? Four injuries later, I can tell you there’s a lot more to know than that! The more I learn about training, the more I realise I don’t know. There are so many factors that need to be accounted for in a training programme – active range, maximum recoverable volume, biomechanics, old injuries and imbalances.. and a tonne more stuff I haven’t even skimmed the surface of! The lesson from this year was I’m not even nearly knowledgeable enough to do my own programming, and to just hire a coach who is! Doing that from the beginning would have saved me a hell of a lot of injury!

#6 Positive vibes only mostly

This year I learned the power of positivity. Trying to look on the bright side of life, and find the good in everything really does make you happier. I’ve found that being grateful for what I have is really powerful, and puts a lot of #firstworldproblems into perspective.

“I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” 

The concept of having absolutely no negativity in your life, however, is bullshit. For sure, most people could benefit from complaining less, and being less negative. When you think about it though, there would be little progress in the world without negativity and complaining. If everyone adhered to ‘positive vibes only’ women probably wouldn’t have the right to vote. On a more personal level, it’s also unrealistic to think you’ll always feel positive about everything. Everyone has bad days, and the pressure to not show any kind of negativity can make them a whole lot worse. Just like #4, it’s all context specific!

And to end on a lighter note..

#7 Contouring is really fucking hard

It’s not as easy as they make it look on YouTube! On the upside, if I want to look scary for Halloween, I’m sorted..

 

Those are my main lessons from 2016, though I’m sure there’s been plenty more! Hope you found some benefit in them, and can learn from them too 🙂

Now go crush 2017.

 

Eimear

 

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