I look at the weights on the bar. My breathing laboured, my muscles feeling shaky and hollow. I look at how little I can now squat and how much it’s taken out of me.

I’ve lost all of it. All the strength I had built over years, kg by kg, week by week.

“so,” I say to myself “we begin again”

I had been lucky at first. The first lockdown hardly dented my strength too much. Oh it wasn’t great, but I had formed a little workout zoom group to do before work.

But that didn’t persist through second and third lockdown. Mental health twisted in weird ways. In some respects, I did OK in the year of staying inside. In others, it left me ragged.

Even when gyms reopened I couldn’t maintain any routine or momentum. Weeks not going became months not going.

To be honest, I wonder if I needed the break. Needed the return to zero.

Whilst strength training has been amazing for my self perception, there was a lot of old, toxic ideas in my foundations, left over from when my relationship to weights and barbells and mirrors wasn’t so great.

Unlearning the moral judgements of food groups and carb rations has taken a long time. Eating chicken and rice out of Tupperware every day is not “good”. Logging everything you eat into an app to make sure you don’t go into the “bad” numbers is obsessive.

But the joy and the unity training for strength, not looks, gave me has been a pillar of my self-confidence for years now. I know that path well and know that direction leads to good things.

So here I am. Starting again.

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