Playing Through the (Brain) Pain

When you’ve lived in California long enough, forty degrees is frigid.  When you’ve adhered to a strict 6:00 am wake up call for the last three months, 4:40 am is ridiculously early. Yet I found myself inserted into a 4:40 am, forty degree morning with the intention of making my new class commitments at a new gym. I had very little…nay, no desire to do this.  This could be easily misconstrued as a dislike for working out.  In my case, this is not true. Working out is my jam.  I love classes, solo workouts, weights, runs—I can easily knock out 8-10 hours a week, and love almost all of it (I’m still human, and sometimes it still sucks).  But my recent gym migration has also meant a major change in the timing of my routine, and what was once an evening activity has now morphed into the crack of dawn.  I’m still adjusting to this, to put it lightly.  This particular morning, I was engaged in a real doozy of an internal fight with myself.

“Skip the gym today. You’ve worked out hard the last four days.  Maybe you’ll go later.  You’re too tired now. You deserve sleep. It’s too cold out.  Maybe you’ll do a workout at home.  You don’t need to go to that class.  It’s too hard, anyways.  Just stay home.  The cat wants you to stay home. She’ll be sad if you leave. (yep, I went there).”

And so on, ad infinitum.

Let’s evaluate those thoughts. Now, was I actually tired?  Hell yes I was.  But was I so tired as to be unable to safely work out? Bitch, please.  I had gotten eight hours of sleep, and I was currently drinking coffee and eating my breakfast. Not that tired.  Was it cold?  Yes, but I don’t attend a nude gym, so I could wear as many layers as I pleased.  Is the class hard?  Yep, and that’s exactly why I should be going.  There’s no change without challenge, and this rings especially true for my muscles and general strength.  Did the cat want me to stay, really? Debatable.  She’s unavailable for comment right now.

Most of those were garbage thoughts.  This was a time to play through the pain.  But Allie, you weren’t in any pain, you think.  Oh yes I was.  That mental anguish felt very real at the time.  The stuff your mind makes up in resistance can sound very convincing, and it must be evaluated with caution. In this case, I recognized pretty quickly that there was no good reason to engage in that conversation with myself, to entertain that whiny toddler.  So instead of evaluating the junky thoughts, I turned my brain off altogether.  I listened to my body.  Was she awake? Yep.  Was she so sore she couldn’t move? Nope.  Does she want ripped biceps and faster legs and better mobility?  Yes, please.  So, as the mind chatter hit the crescendo, I mechanically tied my shoes.  As may brain screamed for me to stop, I filled up my water bottle.  As the excuses overflowed, I locked my front door and I just went.  

I played through the pain of my screaming, silly brain.  

Now, I’m not suggesting you ignore actual, physical pain.  Or that you do a ton of shit that you don’t want to do.  Sometimes our mind can provide insight, and if you can double down and get an opinion from your intuition, too?  Girl, you’re golden. Do what your gut tells you.  What I am saying is…don’t trust everything your brain tells you.  That is one sneaky organ, and it’s not really you.  If you really sit with the thoughts, chances are you’ll be able to figure out what is real and what isn’t.   

The gift of this realization through the challenge today was fantastic.

True to what I had thought, the class was grueling.  Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to do twelve pull-ups (twelve more than I had ever tried before).  To even try them has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and I realized as I flung my body over the bar and hung on for dear life, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that, had I not disregarded those weird little pieces of resistance that popped up when I popped out of bed in the dark.

Sometimes, we have to play through the brain pain, no matter what it tries to tell us about our cat’s feelings.  It’s worth it.