Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals in 2021. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
Abbey Moon, 77, is a survivor of domestic violence who turned trauma into triumph through her mastery of powerlifting. Get to know Abbey here, and read on for some helpful tips on staying motivated through challenging times.
Since returning from Sweden (read about my competition experience here), I decided to take a break from all the powerlifting I had been doing and just focus on “accessory” work (defined here). My workouts were not inspiring me the way they had before the world meet. It seemed like an excellent time for my carpal tunnel surgery — which I had been avoiding, since I would not be able to lift for four to six weeks.
ME, the person who talked so much about motivation was totally unmotivated.
After the procedure, I rested my arm for a few weeks and returned to the gym. I understood I could not lift heavy weight, but was not aware that benching and pushups — moves that I love — would be so painful. I kept my four-day schedule, attempting to do accessory work, but my passion and drive were gone. ME, the person who talked so much about motivation…was totally unmotivated.
I continued to “just show up,” like I tell people to do. There was no enthusiasm or joy in my cardio, stretches, and leg work. I ended up doing a lot of thinking about motivation because it can disappear. Once that happens, it is hard to regain that feeling of the gym being a priority and such an important part of one’s life.
As I mentioned above, bench press and pushups are moves I could do all day, but they hurt my hand so much that they were off limits for a while. I began to panic and catastrophize about the pain never going away and being unable to bench at Nationals and qualify for Worlds. Somehow these overwhelming feelings started taking up a lot of my time.
I began to feel like I had nothing to look forward to.
I still went to the gym, but my heart was not in my workouts.
Although COVID-19 still presented risks, I was tired of all the precautions I still had to take despite being vaccinated. All of the people from my old gym which had closed – I missed them, people I had seen three or four times a week for the last six years, and those I had socialized with at parties and other events. I allowed myself to become an unhappy person, which I am not. Those feelings just continued to grow. I still went to the gym, but my heart was not in my workouts.
A shift in my thinking
One day, I was at the gym watching people work out and feeling very sorry for myself. And something shifted in my thinking. I realized that instead of focusing on what I could not do, I could focus on what accessory work I could do. With Google, I could develop modifications. I was unable to do pushups, but I could do shoulder pushups. There were several modifications listed that would help me maintain my strength. That way, when my hand was healed, I would be strong enough to do the original movement.
I had to make the decision to change my life and feel like I was powerful and in control.
For the first time, I felt hopeful. I could feel my motivation coming back. I also decided to be kind to myself and start eating healthy, which I had stopped doing. I began to focus on what I did have: friends, family, and my baking business. That was a lot more than many people had, especially those who had really been affected by COVID-19 and lost family members and income. It was a very similar revelation to not letting fear rule my life. I had to make the decision to change my life and feel like I was powerful and in control.
On the road again…
I went to the gym on a Friday, looked at the workout ahead of me, and knew I could do every movement on the list. I didn’t have to cheat on sets or repetitions. Without pain, I also added back squats and deadlifts and was able to do more weight than I thought was possible. I felt like ME again — motivated and ready to start training for Nationals, which will take place on February 26, 2022. Saturday and Sunday I had the same great experience at the gym. After feeling like I had taken a detour, I had found my way back to the main road.
Motivation comes and goes. I learned that you can figure out the obstacles while still continuing to go to the gym and doing something. If you stop completely, it is too challenging to get back into the routine of making working out a priority.
Keep going no matter how you are feeling, unless you are sick.
I keep a notebook which contains every workout I do with dates. When I have days where I do not want to go, I tell myself “you only have to do half of it.” I usually end up doing the entire thing, and adding a few exercises. Keep going no matter how you are feeling, unless you are sick. During challenging days, having a workout partner is essential. They will encourage you to continue. In fact, my partner often does not take “no” for an answer! (In their own assertive, yet gentle way.)
You are the only one who can make YOU go…
But, the most important thing about motivation, is you. You are the only one who can make YOU go to the gym, or do online daily exercise classes like the ones hosted by Senior Planet. Just showing up and doing something every day is a true gift you can give yourself.
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our daily health and wellness programs, stay tuned to the latest news and articles from SeniorPlanet.org by signing up for The Orbit weekly newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!
I am really excited and motivated after reading about Abbey and watching her video.
I retired from work on July 1, 2020. I had looked forward to retirement so much but it turns out that I’m feeling a little lost, on the edge of depression, and looking for meaning. I was a competitive athlete for a lot of my life. Maybe I will try some power lifting or something like that!
I’m wondering… what is a Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete?
Thanks so much!
The Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete program features five older adult athletes. Over the course of the year, we chronicle their fitness journeys through fitness articles shared on SeniorPlanet.org. Athletes also host virtual events for the Senior Planet community.
Each year we have an open call for candidates to be Sponsored Athletes; we have chosen our athletes for the year…but please follow their progress on Senior Planet by subscribing. Meanwhile, check out our free online fitness sessions!