We all are dealing with what is likely one of the most stressful situations of our lives right now. Though some of us are in better situations than others, we are all anxious and stressed.
How bad will this get?
How long will this last?
When will the gyms open?
Will I have a job?
Whether you are worried about your health or the health of your loved ones, we are all concerned about our jobs, businesses, and financial situation, as well.
Those who know me know that I have become more compassionate as I have aged. In my earlier years, I was focused more on my situation, and only after years have passed have I become concerned less about myself and more about how others are impacted. I am concerned about the vulnerable population as it relates to this pandemic, and I have been okay with the restrictions and the proactive measures taken by the federal, state, and local governments. However (and this is a big however), the more time that passes, I admit that there is a bit of selfishness sneaking into my feeling about what is going on in reference to the restrictions that have been put in place and how long these restrictions are going to last. I'm just being transparent here and putting myself out there to be criticized, and I understand this.
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I just turned 50. This isn't going to sound old to someone 60 or 65-years old, but to anyone younger than 50, it most certainly does. Hell, it sounds old to ME. I have spent 35 years training and well over 20 years competing. Still, I'm not done. I want to continue to challenge myself as long as I am physically capable. Bitch is, I know I don't have a lot of healthy years in front of me and that most of my good years, from a physical standpoint, are behind me.
Most of you reading this will know that I have battled with chronic lower back pain for roughly the last decade but have managed to keep my injuries at bay during the previous four years. I also had some health issues four or five years ago but eventually moved past them. I decided a couple of years ago to step on the gas again and put in a couple of years of solid off-season work to see if I could be competitive in the masters-over-50 division in 2020.
I had zero injuries over these last two years, built my metabolism to the point where it has never been before, and I made some of the best progress I have made in the last 35 years of training. I was locked in (I still am) and was able to fall in love with bodybuilding again, enjoying the process that I hadn't enjoyed for almost ten years. I have been excited about 2020 and started prep for three shows at the beginning of the year. Then, out of nowhere, a pandemic hits and everything – not just in the US but around the world – came to a screeching halt.
At first, I thought this would be short-lived, some restrictions would be in place for a few weeks, and life would return to normal relatively quickly. I was okay with this because the alternative is people would die. I did not want to contribute to this in any way. As time passed and these restrictions are predicted to go on for at least the next two or three months (if not longer), I find myself incredibly disappointed.
I am still preparing for my shows, and I am locked in. I am fortunate enough to have resources that allow me to prepare 100%, but this is a day-to-day situation, and it could change at any time. I know it sounds bitchy because this is a first-world problem, but it is a bitch psychologically to stay mentally geared down and focused when the shows could be canceled at any time and likely will at least be pushed to a later date.
Another caveat to this situation is that if some shows aren't canceled, and there will only be twelve or fourteen weeks to be ready for them, it is likely that the turnout is going to be low. The quality of competitors could be sub-par, as well. This is just one more thing that is not terribly motivating.
I can say with confidence that my approach to competing these days is not to smoke the field as much as it is to outdo myself in this point in my competitive "career." I want solid competition, but at the same time, I will prepare the same way whether three people show up and are fat or thirty people show up, and all of them are shredded. I am just not convinced that I am enjoying the process, and this has always been number one for me. I compete to win, and I compete to be my best, but I also do it because I love the process. The process is arduous, at best, right now, from a psychological standpoint. Of course, prep is always a bitch, but at least the effort is satisfying in the end. I am questioning that right now. The alternative is not to compete and to not know if I will be able to compete again. Time is not on my side; I'm a realist.
I could pull the plug. I could back off and wait for this to pass, making plans again when the outcome of this is more concrete or black and white. However, I just cannot seem to bring myself to do this. I continuously remind myself that as much as I may have years of good training in front of me, I could also not have many at all. I cannot know what will happen in the future. For this reason, I am staying locked in and taking this day by day, continuing to prep and waiting for the announcements as to whether the shows are canceled or postponed.
The other component to all of this is there is almost nothing else to do at this point. I can't hang out with friends, go out with my wife, travel to see my kids, or spend time with my extended family. It is an incredibly BORING existence – not just for me but for almost everyone. I figure that with nothing else to do other than eat burgers and sit on my couch and get fat, I might as well stay locked in and, at the very least, have a two-hour distraction from the anxiety and stress of everything going on right now. Sitting around with nothing to do only makes people worry more and try to guess what is going to happen – and most of us are "worst-case scenario" people. That isn't healthy, and I don't want to spend any more time than I have to, sitting around worrying.
If this is selfish, so be it. Right now, we all need to do what is best for ourselves and our family to get through this unprecedented (in our lifetime) situation. I won't stand on a soapbox and say that everyone should workout right now and diet, but I will say that most of us have almost nothing else to do, so it might not be a bad idea. At least something good could come from the downtime vs. the result that is going to happen to most people sitting around doing nothing for weeks or months on end: getting fatter and potentially less healthy. You do you, but let me do me. Just Sayin'.