Every so often I’ll get in a client who was a jock of some sort in a former life. Either they played ball in high school or college, or they had some experience on a professional or semi-professional level. But the story is nearly the same in every case: Through accumulated or acute injury or life circumstance, they stopped playing and gained a ton of weight.
Being a former fit person, they attack the weights with unusual vigor. The second workout finds them considerably more gun-shy than the first, due to crippling soreness. “What happened?”, they ask. “I used to lift twice as much as this. I used to work out 20 times harder and still made every late-night party on campus.”
My typical advice: Forget “used to.” But this doesn’t just follow for former athletes. This applies to trainees across the board.
It applies to you if you obsess about the size of jeans you wore back in high school (that, sadly, you’ll never fit in again).
It applies to you if you stubbornly chase a poundage you used to lift last year, back before you sustained injuries to both your shoulders and left wrist.
It applies to you if you complain that every time you used to get a little too fat all you needed to do was run a couple of times a week without changing your diet.
Maybe that’s the way things used to be. But they aren’t that way now.
“Used to” is self-limiting because it keeps you from the difficult but necessary work of addressing reality. Maybe things aren’t as they used to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that right now you’re not where you want to be. Worse, getting stuck in “used to” blinds you to the actions that you need to take right now, when the rules of the game have changed.