Some Barriers I Faced in Returning to the Gym Were Self-inflicted
After transsphenoidal surgery, a columnist needs time to tackle his old goals
Barriers are obstacles that get in our way as we pursue a goal. These barriers sometimes are out of our control, but sometimes we allow them to stop our progress. My journey with Cushing’s disease had a few self-inflicted barriers I needed to overcome to achieve my goals.
Until recently, the last time I’d been in a gym was 2014. My memories of that time are not good: Pinched nerves and shortness of breath became a normal occurrence, and I struggled to lift weights and complete sets. I was also dealing with low testosterone at the time, as well as complications from the steroid prescribed to treat it. All of this led me to take time off from the gym.
A year later, I would learn that I had a pituitary tumor, which explained the difficulties I was having with my body. The muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, and injuries all started to make some sense. Transsphenoidal and Gamma Knife surgery were the elected methods of treatment because of the tumor’s location and size. My assumption was that after the surgeries were completed, I would bounce back and my physique would return.
It was a shock that my recovery took longer than I expected because of some self-inflicted barriers.
Post-op can be difficult, with periods of highs and lows, and good and bad days. The uphill battles, mentally and physically, made for the absolute toughest time I’ve experienced. The choices I made post-op were some of the same ones I had made before surgery. I didn’t think they would be a factor because they were never an issue before. I thought I could consume the same junk food, alcohol, and tobacco I did before, without any consequences. I felt that I could go back into the same type of work environment and be OK.
When I realized that life wasn’t going to be the same as before surgery, it hit me hard. I started putting limits on myself that weren’t necessary. My focus started to shift toward what I was unable to do, not what I could do. This thought process became a huge barrier for me. I started to come up with excuses for why I couldn’t accomplish a task, and with each one, my pessimism grew.
What really made me reflect on this was that after eight years and some “gentle” encouragement from my wife, I overcame the limits of not wanting to go to a gym because of the troubles I’d experienced before.
Although I’d been active by walking in parks, getting back to weightlifting was a struggle. The fear of possibly experiencing the same pain as before was hindering me. Despite the lack of trust in my body, and despite the activities I did do — such as walking 3 miles a day, going on 5-mile hikes each month, and lifting and moving heavy objects — I still didn’t think my body was ready yet.
However, I soon found that I was much stronger than I realized. My body was telling me I was ready. I was able to get quality reps by lifting a moderate amount of weight. The more weight I lifted, the more energized I felt.
Sometimes our minds can play tricks on us. The mental barrier that was holding me hostage and keeping me from getting back to the gym was also stopping me from reaching some of my physical goals, such as toning and weight training.
As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The choice to persevere through the fear allowed me to break through the limitations of what I once thought couldn’t be accomplished.
If you never quit, you can never lose.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.