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That was then, this is now: How to let go of your past fitness and focus on the present, by Coach Chris

At Ripple Effect, many of our members and personal training clients are in their late 30s or older. Some of them used to be college athletes, or powerlifting champions, or used to be in really amazing shape in their younger days. Now they’re trying to get back into shape, but they’re less fit than they used to be, and it’s really bumming them out! 

It’s vitally important for your success in your fitness endeavours to focus on the NOW! Different phases in life have their own challenges, constraints, and benefits. Don’t let your past self keep you from making progress now. 

Too often we see people get held back by comparing their current fitness, to their past fitness. They’re comparing where they are now at 40 with two kids and an ACL surgery, to their 20 year old self. 

Of course you could deadlift 600lbs when you were 22 years old, and did nothing but eat, sleep, and lift weights in your powerlifting career! Life was completely different. Now you’re in your 40s. The fact that you could deadlift a semi-truck 20 years ago is frankly irrelevant. If that’s your definition of success, you are set up to be continually disappointed in your training. While not impossible, the odds of getting back to that same level of athletic prowess is very, very slim.

Is this a pessimistic view? No! It should be freeing. You don’t have to live up to your past accomplishments. We’re not trying to tell you you’re all washed up and you’ll never be fit again. What we are saying is that you need to recalibrate your idea of fitness & success to fit within your current life. 

Different stages in life deserve their own metrics of success, because the rules have changed. Maybe you had your first child. Maybe you had a major illness or injury. These huge life-altering events are a time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. 

So how can we do it? How do we let go of our past selves and focus on the present? Here are three ways to do it. 

  1. Cultivate gratitude every day. We have to celebrate our bodies and love ourselves for what we CAN do, right now. When you broke your leg last year, you couldn’t even walk for two months! Now you’re able to run a mile without stopping. Who cares that it’s 2 minutes slower than you used to? Different life stages need different metrics of success. Take the time to recognize and enjoy how far you’ve come lately. You’re awesome. 
  2. Try something new. So you were an elite powerlifter back in the day. If all you do is powerlifting now, and it’s discouraging you — it’s time for a change of scenery! Why not try some Olympic lifting? Or get really good at bodyweight gymnastics? Or give a triathlon a try? There’s a lot of great ways to get fit. Trying something new can give you a fresh perspective and keep you focusing on the present instead of the past. Maybe you’ll find something you never knew you were good at! 
  3. Focus on the process instead of the outcome. Instead of being fixated on a particular outcome — like a specific weight to lift,  mile time, or bodyweight — focus on the inputs. You can’t control how much you can lift. But you can control your attendance at the gym, your effort in your workouts, your nutrition, your sleep, and a lot of other big pieces of the puzzle. If you’re struggling with showing up to the gym consistently because you’re discouraged about your progress…it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy! You won’t make progress if you don’t put in the work! Focus on just showing up. Make your new goal hitting the gym 3x per week. That’s it. Once you’ve accomplished that for 3-4 weeks, then add another small habit that will help you reach your goals.  Start with manageable, attainable process goals and good things will happen.

If the accomplishments of your past self are sabotaging your current self, it’s time to let go! Your body is still capable of amazing things. It may not be the same amazing things as 10 years ago, and that’s OK. 

Struggling with motivation? Not sure where to focus your time an energy? We’re here to help! Sign up for a Free Intro Session to talk with an RECF coach for free, no strings attached! We would love to help you find the right path to fitness wherever you are right now. 


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