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Updated: Sep 14, 2023

A slippery slope to gravitate back to a cycle of shame.

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When I was much younger, I was able to spring into action without warning, no warmup, I thought I was my best just by showing up.

When I was 31, a couple months away from my 32nd birthday, I was working as a dancer at an all inclusive resort in Mexico and threw out my back during rehearsal of our Salsa number. I was 31+, everyone else I worked with was 26 or younger. That doesn’t seem like a huge age difference, but in those earlier years - it’s huge. I had lived adult experiences at least twice as many years as the others, my frontal lobe was fully formed. But, our bodies start to deteriorate much earlier than we want to think. Just because medical advancements have aided us to live longer, it doesn’t change the natural process our bodies go through from birth to old age, from being born without kneecaps to needing knee replacements.

Speaking of knees, when I danced in Mexico, a young dancer I worked with was already getting cortisone shots in their knees every 6 months. EVERY 6 MONTHS!

When my back went out, tears puddled in my eyes, my saliva glands activated, and I felt like I was being constantly electrocuted throughout my body on a low but painful current. I said nothing because I was ashamed I was older. Gray hairs would soon be growing, if they weren’t already undetected. I actually thought to myself, 'it’s okay, do extra stretching, warmup twice as long next time, you’ll be fine.' Turns out,


Have you ever done ANY of these things:

  • Eat an entire pint of ice cream and then justify it with 10 extra minutes the next day on the elliptical

  • Wake up late, skip breakfast, and eat a larger lunch

  • Miss a whole week of exercise and go to the gym and lift heavier weights to make up for it

  • Skip a regular workout because you are: going for a long walk, playing golf, chasing a 3yo on the playground…

This list can easily continue ad infinitum...

Remember in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” when they get back to Cameron’s house, they’ve jacked up the back end of Cameron’s dad’s fancy car, put the gear in reverse and put a brick on the accelerator pedal? They thought, ‘we’re going to have all this fun on a day off and then turn the mileage back by putting the car in reverse and no one will know” … GOING IN REVERSE DOESN'T TAKE THE MILES OFF… Their action in the effort to justify something they knew was wrong to do in the first place caused a bigger problem... in frustration, Cameron kicks the car and it rolls out the window…

The moral of these examples and mine and Cameron’s stories is:

You can’t catch up by doing more. Simple as that. When you do more, lift heavier weights, run longer, don’t eat the next day, you become sore/sick/exhausted and unable to get back to a routine.

You don’t fail by stumbling and eating a pint of ice cream, etc. You do fail if you quit trying.


Your body is way smarter than you. When you stumble, or do a justified stumble, get back to routine, no questions asked.


Making a justification is an excuse. Plain and simple. Be careful and aware that justifying easily becomes a habit, which often means you stop trying, which = failure.

Instead of justifying a decision, accept responsibility for it. Accept the responsibility that you ate a pint of ice cream, the responsibility that you skipped your scheduled workout because you went golfing instead.

Wanna know the truth of that?

The scheduled workout is what makes you BETTER at golfing/chasing kids/long walks/etc. Skipping the workout is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

If I had warmed up when I was 31+ before rehearsing Salsa, I would have connected my body awareness and readiness for a more productive rehearsal. Now, I accept the responsibility that I seriously hurt myself back then, and take the responsibility to be mindful of that lower back injury. My back has gone out since, once by lifting my Vitamix off the counter and bending down to put it back in the cabinet… It happens. But now I take responsibility to heal, and when I am able to get back to normal activity I do exercises that help strengthen, not work harder as punishment.


About the Author:

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Amber is a multi-passionate person. She is a NASM-CPT personal trainer and nutrition coach who works 1:1 with clients in online coaching - with a special flare for working with artists of all mediums - opera singers to cross stitchers., and all creative folks between. She is a working artist herself and her paintings and sculptures can be seen in her shared studio gallery space at the Northrup King Building in NE Minneapolis, MN, or online at Amber Art MN.

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